By Will Baldwin
The Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team’s 78-54 win over the Nipissing Lakers at Coca-Cola Court on Jan. 19 was a little different for fifth-year forward Filip Vujadinovic.
Vujadinovic and the Rams were not only without leading scorer and fellow fifth-year JV Mukama due to injury, but they also struggled to shoot the ball from deep all night.
Despite all of that, games like this are what Vujadinovic has been preparing for as of late.
“I’ve actually been working a lot on the mental side of it,” said Vujadinovic. “So physical side, you know if your shoulder is hurting you can’t shoot, it’s whatever. But when you mentally get out of it when you’re like ‘damn my shot is off’, that is when you get into trouble because the next shot doesn’t dictate what happens with the one before. The biggest thing for me is just like, ‘okay I’m missing, I see I have my drives, so just stick to my drives from now on’.”
A perfect example of his growth could be seen on Saturday, as Vujadinovic was able to still lead the Rams in scoring, despite only making one of his six three point attempts.
With his total of 17 points and six for ten shooting on non three-point field goals, he displayed how much different his game is now, as opposed to his earlier years with the Rams.
“I was all physical, all tunnel vision kind of stuff,” he said. “We actually got an actual therapist for this kind of stuff to help us, so I’ve been with her, a couple sessions and it’s changed the way I look at basketball.”
Now in his final season, Vujadinovic understands the importance of his experience for the younger Rams on the roster.
“There’s a certain point where like you don’t wanna be too intrusive because you want to let them grow themselves. But at the same time, when you see them out of line or doing something that you know shouldn’t be done, it’s always good to you know give them a little nudge quick.”
Although Saturday’s performance didn’t see the Rams shoot as well as they would’ve liked, defensively they held strong holding the visiting Lakers to 27 per cent shooting from the floor and just 20 per cent from deep.
Tanor Ngom joined Vujadinovic in double figures scoring with 15 points, as did Myles Charvis with 13 and Jayden Frederick with 10. The bench as a whole added a total of 17 points, highlighted by a big dunk from Nikola Urosevic over a Nipissing defender in the third quarter.
Marcus Lewis finished with a game-high 18 for Nipissing, continuing his strong season where he’s averaging just over 18 a game. Justin Hill was the only other Laker to get to double figures, finishing with 10 off the bench.
Going forward for the Rams, Mukama is expected to be back and healthy next weekend, when they take their 15-1 record and travel to Ottawa to take on the Gee-Gees and Carleton.
Although many around the country will be focused on Saturday’s rematch versus a Ravens team that handed the Rams their only loss of the season, assistant coach Borko Popic says that the team is “focused on” taking on the Gee-Gees.
“They’re on their home court so they’re gonna be excited,” Popic said. “There’s gonna be energy and we gotta be ready to play.”
UP NEXT: The Rams will head to Ottawa to take on the Gee-Gees at Montpetit Hall on Jan. 25. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.