Most teams that need to replace their program's all-time leading scorer in 6'7" Boris Bakovic, a veteran 6'10" big in Joey Imbrogno and a solid decision-making guard Josh Budd would regard the following year as one devoted to rebuilding. Ultra-hard working Ryerson Coach Roy Rana will have none of that talk however, bringing in arguably the deepest and highest potential recruiting class in the CIS which already has yielded at least three or four 30+ minute per game starters and other rotation-ready reserves. Rana has an urgency to his actions with a low tolerance for pushing off success into the future. If not right away, Ryerson looks at winning very soon as a very reasonable objective.
If forming the foundation of long-term winning starts with the presence of a strong, high IQ point guard, then Rye is very comfortable with 6'0" freshman Jahmal Jones, maybe the most heavily recruited pg in Ontario by CIS teams. The starter from Day One, Jones brings athleticism, competitiveness and leadership to arguably the most important position for a young team on the floor.
Ryerson's best overall player in the pre-season thus far has been 6'2" newcomer Ola Adegboruwa, originally from Toronto Emery before spending a couple of seasons at U.S. junior college. Adegboruwa, who has an infecitous competitive drive that has cast him as a team leader already, will have the ball in his hands alot offensively given his willingness and ability to make strong decisions. Adegboruwa has the skills to slash to the rim, get out in transition and distribute when necessary; expect him to fill stats sheets and likely author a triple/double or two along the way this season. The third newcomer is a freshman out of Quebec, 6'7" Bjorn Michaelsen, a solid and steady post presence who finishes and provides a paint-area defensive presence. All three newcomers have logged 30+ minutes per game as starters in Rana's lineup.
A pair of holdovers from the past several years enter their senior seasons, ready to provide experience and a knowledge of the league, beginning with steady 6'3" fifth-year wing Ryan McNeilly, who has the experience and temperment to assume the leadership role for assimilating the new players into the program. McNeilly comes off a 12 ppg/30 mpg season in '09-'10 and will be primarily looked upon to defend and knock shots down; he had a career-high 29 points vs. Humber. Fellow senior 6'4" Luke Staniscia is strong and athletic and provides perimeter scoring to open up the lane offensively.
A fourth newcomer who has started in the early season and should be a 25+ minute per game guy is 6'3" freshman Jordan Gauthier from Windsor, a deceptive athlete who can slash to the rim and is a strong finisher. Gauthier had 24 points in 35 minutes a couple of weeks ago against Winnipeg at the Concordia tournament. Also in the mix on the perimeter is 6'7" Jelane Pryce, another freshman from Barrie, ON, who has what Rana calls an "enormous upside" given his oozing athletic ability. Pryce is transitioning into a full time perimeter player from being a high school 5 and thus far is defending well.
A great, heartwarming story is the rapid development of 6'8" sophomore Matt Lapointe, who is still only 18 years old and is firmly in the rotation up front. Most gratifying is the fact that Lapointe, from Burlington M.M. Robinson, has overcome a hearing disability (he is legally deaf) to flourish at the CIS level as a solid post player.
6'6" third-year wing Kris Montague should be in the mix providing depth up front however he is currently out indefinitely with a back injury. 6'3" fifth-year wing/forward Steve Williams is also in the mix while a regular from last season 6'0" Richardo Dunkley, is battling a foot injury and his status for the season remains uncertain.
The Rams have shown in the pre-season that they can play with good teams and as this group learns to play together should be firmly in the mix for a playoff spot in the OUA East if not fighting to host a home playoff game. Ryerson finishes their pre-season schedule tonight, hosting Bishop's at Kerr Hall.