Learning valuable lessons on the road

Syracuse defeated Ryerson 81-46 in an exhibition game Nov. 5 at the Carrier Dome (Greg DeClara/Ryersonian Staff)

Syracuse defeated Ryerson 81-46 in an exhibition game played Nov. 5 at the Carrier Dome (Greg DeClara/Ryersonian Staff)

It was a tale of two trips for the Ryerson Rams sports program. The men’s hockey team excursion to Princeton didn’t end well on the ice, but was even worse off it. The team was suspended seven days for drinking in their hotel rooms.

The men’s basketball team also lost on the court, but benefited tremendously as a team when they visited New York State recently to play the powerhouse Syracuse Orange, a perennial top-ranked U.S. college team that has made 29 NCAA tournament appearances under head coach Jim Boeheim.

“I just hoped to make some dreams come true,” said Rams basketball head coach Roy Rana about the trip. “For our kids and for our staff to be able to play in the Carrier Dome against a legendary coach and a legendary program is a special experience. It’s not just about basketball sometimes – it’s about a little bit more so I’m just happy we could give them that.”

In light of the recent men’s hockey team suspension for drinking alcohol on a recent road trip, Rana was matter-of-fact when asked if he addressed his squad about team conduct prior to departure.

“No,” said Rana. “They know what’s expected of them.”

Despite losing 81-46 to Syracuse, the 2013-14 men’s basketball team has high expectations for this season. The team is currently ranked sixth in the nation, despite suffering an unexpected loss at McMaster early in the year.

With the pressure of a championship season mounting, the team’s trip to Syracuse may have been the perfect antidote to any early-season hiccups.

“It was nerve-racking, but at the same time it was a learning experience for us,” said fourth-year guard Jahmal Jones. “We know that [top-ranked] Carleton [took Syracuse] to overtime. It shows the bar that Carleton has set and we’ve got to find a way to match that.”

The Carleton Ravens have won the CIS championship three straight years. If Ryerson hopes to win it all, they’ll likely have to get past the Ravens in either the OUA finals or CIS national tournament.

But for the coaches and players, it wasn’t about matching Carleton’s success at the famous Carrier Dome.

Challenges and trips can often serve as a way to bring a team together. Many of the players on the team are hoping their experience has brought the team closer together. If a team is bonding off the court, it can lead to success on the court.

“The camaraderie, learning about each other and just spending more time as a unit [is key],” said third-year guard Aaron Best.

“Hopefully all these trips we have actually pay dividends.”

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on November 13, 2013.

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