The road to victory is just as significant for Ryerson’s men’s basketball team as the conquest itself.
The Rams dominated the court last weekend during the Queen’s Invitational Tournament and won all three of their games, but court time accounts for only a small fraction of their road trip.
The team piled into a medium sized charter bus at 8 a.m. Friday morning. Unlike the empty student bus Ryersonian reporter Nicole Servinis took to the men and women’s soccer games a couple weekends ago, this bus to Kingston was jam packed with players, luggage and laughs.
The guys, clad in matching grey sweat suits, were still half asleep as the bus left from the Mattamy Athletic Centre. Reggae music played quietly on the satellite radio in the background as most of the Rams dozed off during the three hour ride.
Coach Roy Rana on the other hand, was alert and busy preparing for the tournament the entire time. Rana said he only has one big rule for his team when they’re travelling.
“No alcohol on the road.”
They also have to be back in the hotel by midnight, but the coach doesn’t worry too much. “They’re a good group of guys so we don’t have to enforce many rules because they get it.”
Rana runs a tight ship for the benefit of the players.
“Hey Smalls, let’s get these guys up so they aren’t walking off the bus asleep,” Rana told Jermaine Small, one of the assistant coaches, as the bus drew close to Kingston.
Lead manager Dawood Akhtar made sure that the team stopped to get subs before they arrived so that they’d have food to eat immediately after. The Ram range in height from 5’10 – 6’9, so it takes a lot of food to fuel their bodies.
The guys ordered from Boston Pizza, Swiss Chalet, Pizza Hut and Wendy’s. Jamal Lynch, athletic therapist, explained most of the players aren’t on any sort of strict diet.
“They need carbs and proteins after a game [and] that’s available everywhere,” he said. The difficult part is making sure they aren’t getting all of those nutrients from McDonald’s every day.
“Making small changes to their diet won’t make much difference to their performance, but it will help them recover better,” Lynch said.
On a healthier note, the team kept a milk crate full of granola bars and chocolate milk around to snack on between meals.
The guys had no difficulty winning the tournament, but finding time to study proved to be a challenge for them.
“It’s tough to study on the road,” said second-year business management student Derrik Allahyarian. With midterms coming up he had no choice but to look over course material in his shared hotel room. “I have to study after the game.”
After playing an exceptional weekend of basketball, the Rams were sore and tired, but remained in very high spirits.
Rookie Jean-Victor Mukama said there are pros and cons to road games. “The worst part about being on the road is the long hours spent travelling,” said Mukama, in his first year of studies at the School of Child and Youth Care.
The Rams played exhibition games in China this summer, and while it was a great experience Mukama said they played one very early game at 5 a.m. EDT that he was not fond of.
Spending time together on the road also helps to transform the guys from a team into a family. “That’s usually the time when the team chemistry builds up and good memories are made,” Mukama said.