FIBA Americas – Canada’s Shot
Canada’s National team, complete with 2 former CIS stars, Phil Scrubb and Aaron Doornekamp, both from the Carleton Ravens, tips off on Tuesday in Mexico City against perennial S. American power, Argentina in game 1 of their quest to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
The Canadians, with 9 NBA players on their roster, including 6-8, Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota Timberwolves), 6-3 point man, Corey Joseph (Toronto Raptors), and 7-0 Kelly Olynyk (Boston Celtics), were 4-0 in the Tuto Marchand Cup ‘warm-up’ competition in Puerto Rico last week, and expectations are high for their chances of securing one of the two qualifying berths for the Olympics in Rio De Janeiro next year.
The 10 teams in Mexico City play 8 games each in a 9 day span, with 4 semi-finalists emerging. Canada will need to win one of those semi-finals in order to guarantee an Olympic spot; the last time they qualified was for the 2000 Games in Sydney, Aus. All Canadian basketball fans wish the team well in this attempt.
There is a good feature article by David Ebner in Saturday’s Globe and Mail, highlighting the growth of Basketball, particularly in the Greater Toronto area. For the scheduled television coverage of the FIBA Americas Tournament on TSN you can click here.
‘Horns in Australia
The U. Lethbridge Pronghorns, under Coach Mike Hansen, are currently in Melbourne, Australia and getting an early start on their Fall training camp. Where else ?! Without talking with Coach Hansen , we can only assume the ‘Horns made that long and costly jaunt to a.) build a better recruiting bridge to a rich source of young basketball talent, b.) give a nod to 5th year star Brandon Brine, an Aussie national, c.) lure more recruits with the promise of future exotic travel with the ‘Horns, d.) escape the choking smokey air which has invaded S. Alberta over the past week !
We assume that the Lethbridge players will all be back on campus for the September 9 school start. Our man in ‘L.A.’ points out that the ‘warm weather junket’ over the Christmas Holiday break will be to the Wesmen Classic in Winnipeg. (About 60 C colder ….)
‘Tweaking’, ‘Strengthening’, ‘Major-renovation’
There are years where some Canada West teams are fortunate enough to be tinkering with a few line-up changes in order to stay very competitive in the standings. This past Spring and early Summer, however, have seen more than the usual number of changes, as key players graduate (or just leave for other reasons), and their spots need to be covered-off.
Alberta, for example, are without stalwarts Ken Otieno and Joel Friesen, who completed
their 5 years last March. So we see Coach Barnaby Craddock adding 5 recruits, including 5-9 point man Colby Jackson from Las Vegas and 6-2 guard D’Wan Williams from Toronto. Calgary will be without the graduated All-Canadian, Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, but signed another Winnipeg high school ‘phenom‘ in Torrez McCoy, a 6-0 QB on the court, who will compete for minutes at the point as a rookie.
But many more CW coaches have been faced with the more difficult assignment of
making more extensive changes in order to bolster their rosters. Saskatchewan lost Ben Baker, Dadrian Collins, Mike Scott, Andrew Henry, and Conner Burns, so Coach Barry Rawlyk adds import guard and California Junior College star Shawn Lathan , San Diego among others. UBC, who will be the host team for the CIS Nationals next March, are trying to fill major gaps left with the absence of Tommy Nixon, Tonner Jackson, Brylle Kamen, and Andrew McGuinness. Coach Kevin Hanson has been successful in landing 6-3 guard Taylor Browne from Surrey, BC, 6-8 Patrick Simon (Port Coquitlam), a transfer from Simon Fraser, and several other solid looking prospects.
The Manitoba Bisons had 3 players graduate; Stephan Walton, Wyatt Anders , and Amir Ali were all key team members, and Coach Kirby Schepp also saw the need for more roster changes. We see the results of some hard recruiting work in the addition of 7 new faces for the Herd … 2 imports – former Brandon CW Rookie of the Year, point guard Ilarion Bonhomme of Washington, DC, and 6-6 forward Raheem Tyner from Minneapolis, who transfers from Iowa Western Jr. College. Others include 6-6 fwd Joey Nitychoruk, a Winnipeg native, who transfers from Lakehead, a pair of 6-5 Winnipeg high school grads in Dharmjit Dhillon and Raj Sidhu. UM also signed guard Saajan Arora from Cambridge, ON, and 6-9 post, Osahon Eghosa from Ajax, ON who played at Colorado Northwestern Jr. College.
But the champions of the off-season ‘Reno Competition’ have to be the Brandon Bobcats and Coach Gil Chueng, who return just 4 players from their 2-18 squad of 2014-15, D.J. Jordan, Earl Thompson Jr., Ryan Hawley and Denham Buchanan. Coach Chueng says that we will see 10 new roster players including several red-shirts and 5 new signings including 6-11 post John Paul, a Saint Lucia import, 6-3 shooting guard, Chris Stanhope , a transfer from Fanshawe College in Toronto, and 6-7 fwd Tyler Anderson from Langley, BC’s Walnut Grove HS.
Both Fraser Valley and MacEwan signed 6 new players, as both teams graduated significant contributors from their teams last Spring. This may be the most active roster-turnover recruiting period in the last 10 years in Canada West . We will have more details as we get into training camps in the next couple of weeks.