Rauch Returns: Mississauga native makes NBL Canada return to the Power

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Written by Kamal Hylton

The NBA had its “homecoming” moment this offseason in LeBron James’ return to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBL Canada had a similar moment with Tut Ruach returning to the Power organization.“I don’t know if we can compare me to LeBron James,” said Ruach after putting up 12 points and four assists in a 109-90 victory over the London Lightning, “but it feels good and I believe the team we have is very competitive. Our ultimate goal is for the team to be good and if I can achieve that while also playing in front of my hometown, my family and friends, it’s going to be a great experience.”

Ok, maybe the LeBron James comparison was a little over the top. However, like him playing in front of Cleveland or even a Derrick Rose playing in front of Chicago after a two-year injury layoff, there’s no denying how special the return of a local product can be. Two games into the season, coach Kyle Julius has taken this new group of players and moulded them into a hard-nosed, defensively sound squad that also brings an exciting brand of offence. Julius is a major reason why Ruach decided to come back to the NBLC for a second stint, their previous relationship playing a key role.

“He was definitely a huge part of it,” said Ruach to On Point. “We’ve had a relationship for a few years now and when I found out he was on board it made my decision to return a lot easier. Aside from family, he was the main reason why I made the choice to come back.”

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After a European adventure with teams in Germany, Sweden and Czech Republic, the former Father Goetz and York University star looks back on those early years with a degree of fondness. “Not a lot of people would’ve thought I’d get from there to being a professional basketball player,” said Ruach. “I played high school in Canada, went to university in Canada and moved on to play pro in multiple European countries but the same things I did back then I do now. A lot of hard work on and off the court. The leagues in Europe have been established for a longer period of time, so there’s a lot more stability and general continuity from year-to-year but talent wise the NBL is loaded. I’m pretty sure if we took our team to Europe we would definitely beat a lot of teams.”

His return to the league has also been like a mini reunion, playing alongside one of his old Oshawa Power teammates and best friends in Jushay Rockett. The two had a close bond while playing on the 2011-12 Oshawa Power, a team Ruach earned NBL All-Star honours with and describes as “our superstar team” playing alongside the likes of Morgan Lewis, Omari Johnson, Brandon Robinson and Kevin Francis. The two haven’t seen each other for a few years, but talking about those times instantly sparks memories and gives them a chance to reflect on how they’ve grown. “Tut’s my guy,” said Rockett. “I remember we used to sit in the house and watch “Coming to America” and all those movies waiting for games or waiting for practice.”

“I haven’t seen Tut for two or three years. One thing that has changed is his confidence level because I remember sometimes he used to pick that ball up when he felt pressure but now he’s staying with it. He’s a vet now so you don’t really have to say too much, we’re always on the same page.”

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Looking at the prospects for this season, there’s a lot of optimism within the group and although it’s still early the fan base is looking at something different. “I think the style that we play is a likeable style for the fans,” said Ruach. “We share the ball, we play hard and have the foot on the throttle all the time so from the fans perspective it’s going to be a fun team to watch.”

“We all play hard, together cheer each other on and have a lot of positive energy. I can only assume that it’s a better experience for the fans.”

By Kamal Hylton

Photos Courtesy Kamal Hylton

Drew Ebanks