One-on-One with Roy Rana
On the eve of the historic first CIS Men’s Final 8 tipping off in Toronto, we were able to talk to the Ryerson Rams head coach about his seeing the program’s growth, how tough the OUA is and challenges as the host team right here …
Can Ball Ray: The CIS publishes a weekly basketball Top Ten every week but only eight teams make the national championships every year. Do you feel this is this the toughest championship to get into?
Roy Rana: Certainly from the OUA it is, considering the strength of our league right now. I’m sure that will change at some point in time but right now if you’re an OUA team that’s trying to get to the Final 8 it’s a war every night. The top six to eight teams in our league are sometimes the top six to eight teams in the country. This year, at one point, the top five teams in the country were from the OUA. It’s a tough battle to get to the Final 8 from (this league) for sure. We’re fortunate that we’re the hosts but I feel we’ve proven worthy of the host bid.
Can Ball Ray: With that in mind, do you feel your seeding was warranted given the strength of the strength of the OUA?
Roy Rana: In the end, we have some unique challenges with the way we have to be seeded. (The decision) goes to a committee, we have to accept it and there’s no way around it.
Can Ball Ray: This situation is a lot different from any regular season game. What are you doing with your team to prepare for this? Have you changed or altered anything?
Roy Rana: We went to nationals a few years ago in Halifax so it’s not like we haven’t been around it. You take your practice times, you watch your video, you prepare like it’s any other game. Obviously, the focus is different and you’re at a point in the season where you’re trying to manage bodies a little bit. For the most part it’s not a big transformation.
Can Ball Ray: As the host of Final 8, talk about the challenges that you as a program may have faced with this event happening in your home.
Roy Rana: For our kids, it’s always going to be managing distractions. It’s not everyday that you get these types of celebrity, high power basketball people in your building, having the arena filled, even having family and friends around can also be a distraction. Managing that and making them understand it’s not about winning or losing it’s just about performing.
For our staff, obviously, we do get stretched a little thinner than usual. For myself, I have a vested interest in the tournament just as much as I have vested interest in our team performing. I want to see this be a real success for Toronto, it’s something I take great pride in. It’s a little taxing but I’m going to work hard on both ends. I’m not complaining.
Can Ball Ray: Ryerson hosting the Final 8 is a far cry from where it was when you took over the men’s program back in 2009. Looking back to when you started at the program how do you feel about the growth?
Roy Rana: I would say that it was in my mind. I certainly had a dream and a vision that we wanted our program to be impactful, one that was a national power (and) at least for this season we’re there. Our challenge (looking forward) will be sustainability but we’re going to celebrate this season. This has been a very, very special season for this team. It’s a special, incredible group of young men that have matured nicely and I loved every minute of it. I’m glad that the vision I had, the possibilities, it’s finally come together.
Can Ball Ray: Thanks Coach Rana and best of luck in the tournament.