In the world of college basketball, summer is generally a time when players and personnel get to catch their breath and relax from the gruelling grind of the regular and post-seasons — only if your name isn’t Roy Rana.
Rana, who enters his sixth season as the head coach of the Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team, had a busier off-season than most when an opportunity to help coach a professional NBA summer squad came across his table.
The Ryerson bench boss travelled to Las Vegas in July, after being named a guest coach with the Utah Jazz for the duration of the team’s 10-day Summer League competition. The Summer League is where NBA teams often get a first look at how their new draftees perform at the professional level.
“I got a chance to connect with (the Jazz) through some of the other things I do with Nike,” Rana says. “They asked if I’d be interested to come in and help out in a free agent camp that they did and then I was there also for the opportunity to work in the Summer League. That was great, a great opportunity.”
But it wasn’t just the chance to spend some time with a high-profile NBA team in Las Vegas that made Rana’s time with the Jazz special. The veteran basketball coach also says he learned valuable details about the entire NBA process as a whole, from the on-court offensive and defensive strategies to how a professional team interacts with its staff off the court as well.
Rana noted the primary differences between working with the Jazz and Rams were in the size and athleticism of the NBA-level players, but he also said that working individually on getting better was something shared by his players at Ryerson and members of the Utah group.
In addition to spending time with the Jazz over the summer, Rana also coached the Canadian Junior Men’s National Team that won a silver medal at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Colorado Springs, Colo., — an opportunity that gave the coach a good look at some of the country’s best up-and-coming basketball players.
“As far as the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) is concerned, certainly the level and the quality of the talent in our league continues to improve,” Rana says.
With a wild off-season in the books, Rana now shifts his focus to the upcoming Rams season that kicks off on the road against Waterloo on Nov. 5. Motivation is higher than ever coming off a strong 2013-14 campaign where the Rams went 25-10. They made it all the way to the Ontario University Athletics East semifinal before being eliminated by Ottawa in a razor-thin 79-78 loss that crushed their championship dream.
“This is our year where we go for it and we’re going to have a lot of fun trying to win a national championship.”