Monday, 2 July 2007

Jr.Nats continue preparations for World U19's; Play in Guelph tomorrow night

When we last visited with Canadian Jr. National team Head Coach Greg Francis, the squad had just broke camp in Oshawa and was readying for a three-day mini camp at Monmouth College in New Jersey, which concluded this past Saturday. The camp finally offered the Jr. Nats the opportunity to compete against opponents they hadn't faced before and really helped Francis and Assistant Coach Craig Beaucamp assess who their group of go-to players will likely be when the team kicks of the FIBA U19 World championship tournament next week in Serbia. In addition to several practices, Canada faced off against an AAU-type team out of New Jersey that included a couple of pros including Pat Carroll (played in Italy last season after graduating from St. Joseph's, Atlantic 10; brother of Charlotte Bobcats Matt Carroll) and in-coming freshman to Division 1 programs including a 6'10" post player who played with Team USA in the qualifiers last summer. In the end, Canada lost a tight affair in overtime and, while the coaching staff was pleased with the overall play across the entire roster, several players stuck out and established themselves as probable elements in the rotation including 6'10" Zach Nagtzaam (Cambridge, ON) who was solid against the opponent's array of quality big men, scoring inside and running the floor, 6'6" Jonathan House (Guelph, ON), who is playing with much more confidence after last season's solid summer, scoring from the perimeter and going to work at both ends and 6'8" Scott Brittain (Oakville, ON), who is proving to be one of the most dependable players on the Jr. Nats at both ends of the floor. Among the guards who shone during the most recent camp in New Jersey was diminutive 5'9" Keaton Cole (Toronto, ON) who was not the least bit intimidated and showed off his quickness and athleticism and 6'2" Devoe Joseph (Pickering, ON). As was noted previously, the staff is bringing along a number of very young players and most prominent among the youngsters has been the play of 6'5" Alwayne Bigby (Toronto, ON) who continues to improve and gain confidence. As is usually the case, virtually all the younger players have demonstrated superior offensive skills and those who are able to soak up the intricasies required on the defensive end will be the players who will push for playing time. Among the CIS players in camp are 6'8" Aaron Chapman, who is banged up currently after suffering a hip flexor injury, and 6'7" Boris Bakovic who should see time in the rotation.

, the Jr. National team will scrimmage against a group of local university and college players beginning at 6 PM on Tuesday (tomorrow) night at the University of Guelph. Stay tuned for a list of players who will face off against the Jr. Nats. As well, another group of players will scrimmage the Jr. Nats on Thursday, July 5th at Durham College in Oshawa, after which time the staff is expected to select their final roster that will travel to Serbia to compete in the U19 FIBA Worlds.

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