For a kid who didn’t even begin to play until Grade 9, Cambrian College sophomore Ryan Dewey is progressing nicely on the basketball court. More than just nicely, if you talk to Golden Shield coach Brad Hann. And the best is yet to come.
Dewey, a 20 year native of Magnetawan who graduated from Almaquin Highlands Secondary School back in the summer of 2006, admits to playing a little baseball growing up. No hockey…..nothing particularly competitive.
But the construction of a new arena complex that also included freshly installed basketball nets, just as Dewey prepared to enter high-school, sparked an immediate interest in the sport. Not that the early results were all that sparkling.
“I wasn’t very good at all until about Grade 11 – my first two years, I was pretty bad”, Dewey notes with a smile. Working hard on all aspects of his game – shooting, passing, ball-handling – and receiving plenty of encouragement from his high-school senior coach (John Smith), Dewey began to show more promising signs.
By the time his secondary school days were over, Dewey was ready to take the next step. Receiving interest from then Cambrian coach Adam Dusome, Dewey entered the Accounting program at Cambrian, primarily because of the opportunity the school presented to pursue his interest in basketball.
“I came twice for workouts – he (Dusome) seemed like he was impressed but I didn’t think I had shown that well”, said the middle of three children. In the end, it was enough to allow the former Highlander to crack the Shield roster. But a quick adjustment would be needed.
“It was a much faster pace” notes Dewey, recalling his first year of OCAA ball in 2006-07. “There were a lot more athletic players than the guys I had played against in Northern Ontario high-schools.”
And with the step up to the next level of play came the realization that greater commitment to the sport would also be required. “I’m in a lot better shape – I have much better conditioning now.”
Dewey’s rookie season at Cambrian coincided both with the arrival of Hann as head coach and also provided the Shield with their first post-season appearance since the men’s basketball program was re-introduced in Sudbury in 05-06.
But a team-wide “sophomore slump” ensued for the Cambrian men, who finished the 07-08 campaign with eight wins in 20 games and fell just short of qualifying for the playoffs. Dewey and others will suggest the drop off from the previous year was not that substantial overall.
“We won a lot of close games last year that we didn’t win this past year”, he maintains. No doubt about that – four losses by just a single point, two more by a mere basket – six games that proved to be the difference between making the playoffs or not. Stats that provide plenty of motivation to Dewey and mates as they prepare to return to Cambrian in the fall.
“We need to take care of the ball better and keep playing our game” said Dewey, who believes that the final five minutes of most games proved to be Cambrian’s toughest challenge. “We have to start focusing on trying to win instead of trying not to lose.”
As for his game, Dewey, who finished second on the team with 70 rebounds, wants to assert himself moreso on the boards, especially at the defensive end of the court. With the likelihood of four or five teammates returning to the Shield, Dewey remains cautiously optimistic looking forward.
“We return almost our whole bench (non-starters), which is pretty important. Our bench really wasn’t all that deep last year. I think next year we’ll be deeper at every position”, he states.
While the nature of OCAA athletics makes it difficult to know with much certainty the make-up of any team’s roster six months in advance, Dewey’s inkling is that Cambrian is very capable of making it back to Provincials.
“Our first goal should be to make provincials, but I really do think we have one of the most talented teams. Our wing players are better than most other teams in the league”, says Dewey. Not to mention the continued progress of a young man who moves forward with every step he takes.