Friday, 31 July 2009

More on Brad Smith's U.K. Signing

As reported earlier, Brad Smith has signed to play in England. Even more newsworthy is that Smith was signed to his British league contract by Canadian ex-pat Jesse Sazant, a former Carleton Ravens assistant coach and frequent contributor in the past to CISHOOPS.CA, providing updates on ex-CIS players in Europe. Best of luck Brad; you have come a long way since starting in basketball in Grade 11 playing for Coach Lemmon in Barrie.

Big Canadian expected to make Big Impact

The Medway Park Crusaders Basketball Club is expecting their newly signed Canadian Brad Smith to make a big impact in the England Basketball League. Smith played for the University of Western Ontario Mustangs, where he led them in scoring and was voted a first team All Star in the OAU West Conference his last season.

Western Mustangs has made it to the Canadian University semi finals the last two seasons, both times losing out to the eventual champions, and Crusaders head coach Mads Olesen states this as an important reason why the club signed Smith:

“Brad Smith comes from a winning program, and winning is a habit that’s acquired over time. Brad will come in knowing what it takes to win, and we expect him to be a leader and force his winning habits onto his teammates.”

Smith is a 6’6 post player with a good shooting touch, and he averaged 18 points and seven rebounds last season in 24 minutes per game. He played five seasons for the Mustangs and was selected as a conference All Star his last two years. In 2005-06, Smiths first year, the Mustangs’ finished the season with a 3-19 record. Three years later, their record was reversed to an impressive 19-3 regular season finish this year, including an undefeated record at home in 2009.

Crusaders club president Jesse Sazant also mentions winning habits as a reason for choosing to sign Smith: “We are thrilled with adding Brad to Crusaders for next season. We feel he is the best import we have signed in the club’s history. He is a proven winner and scorer and will have a huge impact on and off the floor with the club. We think he is an ideal fit for our offence and will do big things next season.”

Smith is looking forward to joining Crusaders: “I am very ecstatic and excited about joining Crusaders. It is very flattering to be chosen by Kent, especially being a player from Canada and having a team recognize you all the way in England, is very special. I am very anxious to arrive in September and to help the team in any way that I can.”

Smith will be a coach in the Crusaders’ schools community Hoops 4 Health programme, and will be arriving in Kent for the start of the school year, pending his work permit.

Gryphs Retool

After a disappointing finish to last season and the knowledge that due to graduation this season's roster would be devoid of any seasoned post players, Guelph Gryphons coach Chris O'Rourke hit the recruiting trail hard, primarily in search of a young stable of big men. In 6'7" lefty Matt Howlett (Burlington Assumption) and 6'9" John Brutto (London St. Thomas Aquinas), the Gryphs landed a pair of forwards who could develop into all-OUA-type players as their careers unfold. Although the Gryphs return a strong set of wings and guards, led by 6'3" Jonathan Moscatelli and 6'4" Jay Mott on the wings plus 5'11" Mike Patrella , 6'2" Dan McCarthy and 6'0" Charles Ageymang in the backcourt, there was a definite need up front with the graduation of 6'9" all-conference forward Duncan Milne. With Howlett, Brutto and 6'9" Colton Hood (Kitchener), the Gryphs add significant depth to the front line, which has only 6'7" Adam Bering and 6'3" Nick Walters returning. Hood made it through the open tryout for the U19 national team and may turn out to be an above average CIS big man when all is said and done.

However maybe Guelph's top recruit could be 6'2" Brady Heslip, a lights-out shooter from Burlington Nelson, who has verbally committed. We say "could be" because according to some internet-based reports, Heslip opened some eyes south of the border with a characteristic display of perimeter shooting at a recent AAU tournament. Reportedly, a number of NCAA Division 1 teams have shown interest in signing Heslip for 2010-11 mainly because Heslip has not written his Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT's). As a result, if offered a scholarship to D1 likely will not be able to suit up until 2010-11 at a minimum and would likely attend a Prep School, meaning a 6th year of high school, something that doesn't sound very appealing especially given Heslip is a good student. Heslip is the son of former Gryphon All-Canadian Tom Heslip, a star in the late 70's and early 80's and product of the Vern Lucyk high school basketball factory of Oakville Blakelock, which produced numerous CIS stars including Steve Atkin (Waterloo, Calgary, Simon Fraser), Jamie Zeigel (Western), Mike Voelkner (McMaster, Queen's), Rohan McLean (Ottawa) and Fred Murrell (Toronto). Tommy Heslip has been a strong supporter of Gryphon basketball over the years and following in his father's footsteps would be a tremendous opportunity for Brady who would start immediately for the Gryphs. Hopefully for CIS fans, Brady maintains his commitment to Guelph and enjoys a stellar five-year career as a Gryphon.

Thursday, 30 July 2009


At the risk of turning this site into competition for People Magazine, I thought it was important to add a couple of quick notes of personal congratulations... Carleton Head Coach Dave Smart and his wife Emily proudly welcomed their first child into the world this past Tuesday: a son named Theo, weighing in at a healthy 8 lbs., 11 ounces. Unsubstantiated rumours had Theo already knocking down 70 of his first 100 jumpers and taking at least 10 charges in a recent scrimmage. Seriously, congratulations to Coach Smart and his wife and best of luck... Coach Steve Konchalski was a proud papa this past weekend in Antigonish as he walked his eldest daughter Julianne down the isle (err... I meant aisle) to be married. The happy couple is off on their honeymoon before returning back to Ottawa where they will reside... I also understand that Windsor Coach Chris Oliver was married earlier this summer. Congrats to all and enjoy.

Recent articles of note

Bekkering to work Magixx in Dutch pro league

Following a brief but brilliant CIS career at the University of Calgary, Henry Bekkering is headed to his homeland to continue his basketball career. The 6-foot-6 forward, who led the Dinos to the Canada West title and the national semi-final in 2009, has signed a one-year contract with the Nijmegen Matrixx Magixx.

For Bekkering, who holds dual citizenship with Canada and the Netherlands, the choice to sign with the Matrixx Magixx was an easy one. The Taber, Alta. native has extended family in Rotterdam, just a couple of hours’ drive from the eastern Holland town of Nijmegen.

“Their style of play is more ‘North American’ than other teams in Europe, so I think I can fit in well with their system,” the 23-year-old explained.

“It’s going to be tough to start; it’s definitely a step up in level of play,” he continued. “There is a lot of NCAA Division I-calibre players in the league, and there’s very good European players to deal with too. I think if I come in with a good attitude and a strong work ethic right from the start, I’ll be able to find my niche pretty quickly on the team and fit in right away.”

The Magixx came fourth in the Dutch first division in 2008-2009, with a 24-16 record. The top two teams from the first division participate in the highly esteemed Euroleague each year, which consists of top-tier teams from all over Europe. Myguide Amsterdam won the Dutch league last year with an impressive 35-5 record.

Henry is not the only Canadian to join the Netherlands based league, as Canadian national team player Rans Brempong (Western Carolina, NCAA), along with Tristan Blackwood (Central Connecticut St., NCAA) and Steve Ross (Santa Clara, NCAA) also call the league home.

Bekkering, who is most well-known as a YouTube dunking sensation and for his appearance on The Best Damn Sports Show Period, moves to Holland as a refined all-around player on the hard-court. With averages of 20.2 points per game, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in 2008-2009 for the Dinos, as well as a respectable 0.370 three point field goal percentage, Henry can be counted on to contribute in many different ways.

Before joining the Dinos in the 2007-08 season, Bekkering played for Eastern Washington University of the NCAA for three seasons – one in football, and two in basketball. In the spring of 2008, he was selected by the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League’s Canadian draft as a receiver. While he showed well on the gridiron in training with the Stampeders, he decided against participating to focus on his first love, basketball.

Bekkering begins his European basketball adventure Aug. 21, when training camp opens for the Magixx. The first regular season game of the 2009-10 season goes Oct. 2.

Henry’s younger brother Ross, a returning second-team All-Canadian who turned heads with the Canadian team at the Summer Universiade in Belgrade, Serbia earlier this month, joins a solid recruiting class with the Dinos as they look to make noise on the national stage once again in 2009-10. The Dinos open the defence of their Canada West title at home Oct. 30-31 when the Winnipeg Wesmen visit the Jack Simpson Gym.

Chad Klassen's article on SFU joining NCAA (strong piece - with quote from SFU Head basketball coach Scott Clark.

BURNABY (CUP) – When Simon Fraser University opened in 1965, Chancellor Dr. Gordon Shrum fanaticized about the school competing for the Rose Bowl and lived for the day when his ambitious vision would come true.

It’s not the Rose Bowl, but Shrum would be proud to know that SFU will be playing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, as the university was granted its official acceptance into the world’s most prestigious collegiate association last Friday.

SFU is now the first non-U.S. school in the NCAA.

Starting in the 2011-2012 academic year, Clan varsity teams will compete in Division II’s Great Northwestern Athletic Conference against schools from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska.

“It means a high level of competition and challenge for our athletes,” said President Michael Stevenson. “As has always been the case, our primary concern is that our athletes succeed as students. The NCAA has strong academic requirements and we will maintain the high academic standards that SFU has always demanded from all Clan teams.”

For Athletic Director Dr. David Murphy, while there are no concerns about National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics teams being able to compete in the NCAA, having already faced similar competition, the next two years will be a scramble to build up the talent level on the CIS teams making the transition from Canada West.

“Right now, all of our NAIA teams are competitive. They already compete against Division II and Division I competition, and they do quite well. Men’s basketball, football, and certainly women’s volleyball will be a challenge,” Murphy said.

Helping that process will be SFU’s ability to entice outstanding athletes from across the country and elsewhere abroad with full-ride athletics scholarships, which are not allowed at Canadian universities in the CIS.

While there is a limited amount of money one school is allowed to spend on athletes, it will give SFU leverage to attract homegrown talent (and other outstanding athletes) that have tended to head south to the U.S. to pursue their athletic dreams – at schools where the competition is superior and scholarships are available.

“You’re going to have to recruit across the country first off and probably down the West Coast as well,” said Scott Clark, SFU’s men’s basketball coach. “Up until now, given the restrictions by the CIS, all you’re allowed to give is tuition. That limits who you can recruit – local kids, because they can be close to home, [but] somebody from Ontario or Quebec isn’t going to come here if all they’re receiving is tuition. They could go to McMaster or some other university that’s closer to home.

“But if you’re going to pay the whole shot [with a full-ride scholarship], then now you can attract some student-athletes.”

For SFU, which became the first full-time Canadian member of the NAIA in 1967, the move serves to uphold its historical trend as pioneers in Canadian university sport.

Lorne Davies, the longtime athletic director who spearheaded SFU’s participation in the NAIA, had applied for acceptance into the NCAA in 1967 and 1969, but the NCAA wasn’t willing to admit Canadian universities until January 2008.

Now a decision that was 40 years in the making has finally come to fruition for a university determined to compete at high-level U.S. college sports from the beginning.

“It’s a great step. The competitive environment south of the line is a lot better than the competitive environment up here, so I’m excited about that. I think that it allows players to get a lot better,” said Clark, who’s entering his 15th season as SFU’s head basketball coach.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done in order for us to be able to compete at that level. Getting better players is going to require a lot of cash, so that’s probably the next order of business.”

Money will certainly be required for teams to offer scholarships, but Murphy disputes the claims that the athletic budget will have to increase dramatically in order for the varsity teams to compete in the NCAA, saying it’s all a fallacy.

In particular, the cuts on travels costs for the teams playing in the CIS will free up money that can be spent elsewhere, as well as lower registration fees for belonging to Division II compared to the Canada West – it’s $44,000 cheaper, according to Murphy.

“Right now, we’re flying to Brandon, Manitoba, we’re going to Saskatoon, we’re going to Winnipeg, we’re flying a lot of places. [But] we have five teams within a two-hour radius that we can drive to, so obviously there won’t be a whole lot of difference in the financial aspect. We’re going to save money on our travel, we’re going to save money on fees for registration,” he noted.

Coupled with the recruiting advantage and low travel costs of competing down south, there’s the respect factor of playing in the best collegiate sports association around the world.

“The initials ‘NCAA’ have a real magic to them. They’re the largest college sports organization in the world and people are familiar with schools that compete at the NCAA level,” explained Davies.

“Now, we’re not fooling anybody by saying that we’re going to be competing against Notre Dame and USC, but the [schools] we compete against are high quality and have top-flight athletes.”

Among the preparations over the next two years, building a new stadium for SFU is a definite requirement with admittance and participation in the NCAA. The expansion of a new basketball and volleyball gym was completed in 2006, and Murphy and the athletic department have started to work on seating arrangements for Terry Fox Field, where all teams will be playing in the fall.

“We already started the program ‘Bring Our Teams Back Home,’” said the athletic director, who hails from Boston. “If you look out there now, we have a scoreboard. We have a number of stands that will be coming on [Friday, July 24]. We’ll start playing all our home games up here on the Mountain and hopefully we’ll get the support of residence and all the students.”

Canada Knocks off Angola

Jesse Young's 22 points and seven rebounds led the Canadian senior mens national team to a 87-79 win over Angola in an exhibition game on wednesday. Canada is preparing for the FIBA Americas championchip which begins August 26 in Puerto Rico, while the Angolons are getting ready for Afrobasket 2009 starting August 5th in Libya.

'Jesse Young brought veteran leadership and the bench stepped up in a big way, ' said Canadian National Team Coach Leo Rautins. Canada led 18-15 after the first quarter,45-41 at the half and 67-57 after three quaters of play.

Western Looks to rebound; Smith to play in Europe

Mustangs Head Coach Brad Campbell had a break through season in 08-09, riding a stable of seniors who had played together for several years to within a buzzer-beating shot of a spot in the Nationals championship game. Last season's Mustangs showed the value of committing early in their careers to a young, high-on-potential group, living through some early difficult periods and then watching the same group seasons later mature into an experienced, competitive national contender. While Campbell must replace due to graduation five top players including his floor general Matt Curtis, his best pure scorer in Brad Smith, his big man Colin Laforme, top three point shooter Alex Brzozowicz and top wing Keenan Jeppessen, the cupboard is not bare and, supported by some role-players-turned-heavy-minutes guys, at least one top high school recruit and couple of U.S. transfers, the Mustangs will again look to gel in time for another run at the National tournament.

In 6'6" Garrett Olexiuk and 5'11" Ryan Barbeau, the Mustangs have a pair of third year veterans who have participated in a pair of national tournaments, albeit in supporting roles. Olexiuk became more and more dependable on the offensive end toward the end of last season and will be asked to make most of the important decisions in the post this season. Barbeau, maybe the strongest Mustang pound-for-pound, is "ready" according to Campbell to log major minutes and assume key decision-making at the point after splitting team between the 1 and 2 during his first two seasons. Supporting Barbeau will be one of the top point guards in Ontario high school basketball last season, 6'0" Zac Angus (Hamilton St. Mary's). Oft-injured 6'5" Andrew Wedemire has shown potential to dominate from the 3/4 spot and health plus consistency will determine if he can begin to deliver on his all-conference-type skill set. With the graduation of Brzozowicz, 6'1" Jason Milliquet should see more looks from downtown which should continue to help stretch defenses. Adding depth up front will be JDP provincial team member 6'6" Greg Edelsward (Burlington Aldershot), another freshman from high school.

Fortifying the back court for Western will be a couple of D1 transfers in Kenny Perry (San Fransico) and Marcus Barnett (william and Mary) both of who Campbell describes as "athletes who can play". Perry, brother of Fred Perry Jr. who won a pair of CIS national championships with St. FX earlier this decade and son of former Saint Mary's star Fred Perry Sr. from the early 1970s, has already made several stops in his career, starting his high school career at Halifax (N.S.) West followed by a year at Berkmar High in Altanta, Ga. and then Vanier College in Montreal before playing in two games totalling three minutes with University of San Francisco Dons (did you drove 'n did you flew ?) in 2007-8. 6'2" Barnett, a native of Hampton, Va., played sparingly in parts of two seasons with the Tribe and has 3 seasons of eligibility remaining. Campbell also hinted that there may be one more significant recruit in the pipeline for this season.

The Mustangs have again assembled a talented group however compared to last season's CIS semi-finalist team there appears to be a comparative lack of depth up front, a loss of senior/fifth-year leadership and the need to weave together a cohensive group with the expected large quantity of newcomers. Expect some volatility in their play early as Campbell finds the right rotations and a possible view to playing smaller, faster and quicker. While a conference championship at this point sounds like an ambitious target, expect the 'Stangs to comfortably make the playoffs and possibly even host a first round playoff game.

Brad Smith signs to play in Britain Western Mustangs men's basketball's all-time leading scorer Brad Smith signed a professional contract with English league team, the Kent Crusaders (

The Crusaders play in the English Basketball League (EBL) and Smith says he is their one import player for next year.

The contract is for eight months starting Sept. 1 and ending in April, 2010.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Triano to stick around for camp

Triano to stick around for camp

Former Canadian National team coach Jay Triano appears fully entrenched in the Olympic Gold Medal winning USA Basketball program

Raptors coach to lead USA squad workout at Valley High

NBA Summer League

The Toronto Raptors have left Las Vegas after completing their NBA Summer League run. But their coach is sticking around for another week.

Jay Triano will oversee the USA Basketball minicamp at Valley High School beginning Thursday. Twenty-five players will participate with the hopes of being invited back to Las Vegas in 2010 as Team USA prepares for the FIBA World Basketball Championships in Turkey.

"I think we want them to get an understanding of what the national team represents, and we want them to understand the international game," Triano said of his primary goals for the three-day camp, which will culminate with the USA Basketball Showcase intrasquad game Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center. "I want to keep it similar to what Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) does and keep it as simple as possible."

Triano worked last year with the USA Selects, so he's familiar with many of the players who will be in this year's minicamp.

"I got to know a lot of them, so that will obviously make it easier for me," he said. "But we're using the same blueprint as the national team that Coach K and Jerry Colangelo (USA Basketball's managing director) developed, so it should be fairly smooth."

A Canadian, Triano said he has no problem helping the Americans prepare for the world championships in 2010 and the 2012 Olympics.

"I'm glad to lend my experience," said Triano, who appeared in three Olympics for Canada and played and coached internationally in Italy. "I'm glad to help in any way I can."

Canada finishes 2nd in Italian Tournament

The Canadian Men's National team finished the first of two pre-qualifying tournaments with a 2-1 record, good for second place by comfortably defeating New Zealand today in Italy. Italy finished 3-0 by defeating winless Portugal in today's other game. Next up for Canada are a pair of games in Italy against Turkey and then their final game on the continent against Italy.

Wed. July 29 - vs. Turkey Bormio, Italy

Thurs. July 30 - vs. Turkey Bormio, Italy

Sat. August 1 - vs. Italy Mogliano Veneto, Italy

Tall Blacks fall to Canada

The New Zealand Tall Blacks ran into a hot-shooting Canadian team as they fell 90-68 in their final game at the Trentino Cup in Trento, Italy.

The Canadians shot 57 percent (33/58) from the field, including 7-of-14 on long-range attempts, as they pulled away from New Zealand in the third period for their second straight win in Italy.

Kirk Penney, the Tall Blacks captain, top-scored with 14 points, while rookie swingman Tom Abercrombie finished with 12 points in a fatigued performance from New Zealand, who dropped to 1-4 on their eight-game Euro Trip.

The Tall Blacks remained close until the third period, down just four points, 38-34, at halftime but things quickly got out of hand.

"Definitely we hit the wall today in a number of ways," said Tall Blacks head coach Nenad Vucinic.

"We struggled with Canada's inside game at both ends of the court. They started the third quarter with a zone and we didn't adjust well to that. We didn't have enough of an inside option to make them collapse and open things up.

"They zoned for the whole third quarter and we missed some open shots, the lead ballooned to 20 points and the game was over."

The Tall Blacks, out-rebounded 45-34 overall but winning the offensive rebound count 18-13, were out-scored 29-14 in the third, trailing 67-48 with a quarter to play.

And the fourth quarter charge never arrived.

"It was the fifth game in six days, so we were feeling it, it was definitely a fatigue issue today. You could see it more than anyone on Kirk. He's been the only one that's been playing big big minutes.

"They were marking him pretty tight and he's in a position where he's marking their best player too, so he's got to put effort in defensively. He definitely looked tired in that second half."

Penney's three-point shooting epitomised that, converting 2-of-9 from distance as he went 6-of-15 from the field, with three assists.

New Zealand, who put up 13 more field-goal attempts in the game, shot 39 percent (28/71) from the floor and 10-of-28 (36 percent) on threes and only got to the foul-line 10 times.

Forward Mika Vukona finished a point away from a double-double with nine points (3/7 FG, 0/1 3pt, 3/4 FT), grabbing six offensive rebounds in his game-high 11 boards, also with three steals and two assists.

Abercrombie had his third double digit scoring game of the tour, going 5-of-14 from the field with four rebounds and a team-high four assists. Starting centre Alex Pledger pulled down six rebounds to go with his six points (3/5 FG) and two blocks.

For Canada, Andy Rautins, son of head coach Leo Rautins, hit on four of his six three-point shots and scored a game-high 20 points, while Levon Kendall had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

Penney, who averaged 25.7 points per in three games at the Trentino Cup, had eight points and Abercrombie seven points at the half for New Zealand, who trailed 18-15 at quarter time.

The Tall Blacks now head to Belgium for back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday mornings (NZ time), before finishing their eight-game tour against Finland on Monday.

Penny Hemmed as Tall Blacks Thumped

An unforgiving schedule and the double teaming of prolific scorer Kirk Penney contributed to New Zealand's latest setback on their European basketball tour in Italy today.

The Tall Blacks ended their Trentino Cup with a whimper as Canada cruised to a 90-68 victory.

Penney was well contained by the Canadians and the sharp shooting guard was limited to just 14 points as the Tall Blacks again struggled to maintain a scoring momentum after the main break.

In contrast the Canadians were hot offensively, shooting 57 per cent from the field and an impressive 50 per cent from three-point range.

The Tall Blacks were hanging in at halftime at 34-38 but clocked off in the penultimate term as Canada outscored them 29-14 - the decisive break of the game.

"We definitely hit the wall in a number of ways," admitted Tall Blacks head coach Nenad Vucinic.

" We struggled with Canada's inside game at both ends of the court. They started the third quarter with a zone and we didn't adjust well to that."

Canada's lead ballooned to 19 points heading into the home stretch, an impregnable advantage.

Vucinic said a schedule of five games in six days finally took its toll, particularly on Penney who tired in the second half. "He's been the only one that's been playing big, big minutes ," he said.

"They were marking him pretty tight and he's in a position where he's marking their best player too."

Penney's three-point shooting emphasised his tough night struggles - he converted just two from nine and nailed just six for 15 from the field after entering the game with a 25.7 point tournament average.

Tom Abercrombie (12) was the other Tall Black to reach double figures.

The Tall Blacks now have a one-win four loss on their eight match tour.

They now head to Belgium for two matches before wrapping up their European trip against Finland on Monday.

Canada 90 (Andy Rautins 20, Levon Kendall 15) New Zealand 68 (Kirk Penney 14, Tom Abercrombie 12) Halftime: 38-34

Articles of note

Young slam dunking worldwide from Peterborough Examiner

Peterborough's Jesse Young has a busy summer ahead of him with Canada's national men's basketball team.

Young, a graduate of Peterborough Collegiate and George Mason University who plays professional basketball in Murcia, Spain, is participating in a six-day training camp at To ront o's Air Canada Centre which ends tomorrow. The camp is preparation for a trip to Italy for an exhibition series against national teams from Italy, New Zealand, Portugal and Turkey.

Canada is using the series to prepare for the FIBA Americas Championship Aug. 26 to Sept. 6 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The top four teams in the 10-team tournament qualify for the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey.

Canada will hold a second camp at the ACC Aug. 12-16 to prepare for the four-team Tuto Marchand Cup in Puerto Rico. It's a final tune-up prior to the FIBA Americas championship. Canada won the 2007 Tuto Marchand Cup competing against Argentina, Brazil and Puerto Rico.

Young player making strides

The summer of 2009 has been a real eye-opener for Patrick Pilato.

The 15-year-old St. Catharines native made it through a tryout camp and two sets of cuts to end up as a member of Ontario's 12-player under-15 basketball team for the national championships Aug. 2-9 in Kamloops, B. C.

The Grade 10 student at St. Francis attended one of eight open tryout camps across Ontario and was one of 45-50 players invited to a tryout camp. The roster was then cut to 20 before the final dozen were chosen.

"Patrick has been challenged this entire summer," Team Ontario coach Brad Rootes said. "He would even tell you that this is the highest level he's ever had to play and compete at consistently. He's always been the best player on his team for the most part."

Competing against GTA players, the 6-foot-1 guard has had to adjust quickly.

"The game is a little quicker and a little more physical," Rootes said. "At the start, he wasn't nervous but he was tentative. The more comfortable he gets, the better he is doing."

Pilato has had to work hard.

"It's people from all over and I'm used to being the go-to guy. On this team, it's all all-stars so it's a different game," the 2008 Standard tournament all-star said.

He knew right off it would be a challenge to make the team.

"As soon as I got to the top 50, I saw the competition and I knew I had to step it up."

Rootes says Pilato's strength is his outside shooting but his other skills are starting to show through. He's one of Team Ontario's best spot-up shooters and his point guard experience at St., Francis enables him to handle the ball.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Summer Musings

BACK OUT OF NOWHERE: Unfortunately, given where things are with my life, putting together any type of meaningful posts has been and will continue to be hit and miss for a long time in the future. The good news for those who care and have been supportive despite the inconsistencies is that something is better than nothing. Hopefully the many coaches, officials and fans who have been loyal to this site in the past will be patient and understand that deep down I wish I could do this every day but the practicalities of life to which I am committed take a higher priority. However, I have fully recognized my addiction to this and am seeking to weave it into my every day life without compromising the other parts. With that "Doctor is In"-like diatrab out of the way, here are some mid-summer musings for your consideration...

NCAA GAMES... From what I understand, this will be the final set of Labour Day weekend games involving NCAA teams. Although NCAA barred these trips earlier this year, there are one final set of trips that have been grandfathered in to the benefit of Canadian university hoop fans. Here in Ottawa, the St. John's Red Storm will visit but unfortunately Scotiabank Place is unavailable due to an Aerosmith concert. Although my vinyl copy of the 1976 smash album "Rocks" is down to the bone from extended plays, the Boston-based band live act was done about 30 years ago (I know because I saw them multiple times in the late 70's) and they are in no shape to upstage a CIS/NCAA basketball game but alas the guys at Scotiabank Place feel Steve Tyler and company will be a better draw than St. John's/Carleton. Chattanooga is in Toronto and Georgia Tech is in Windsor for other Labour Day weekend games that I know of. Also, Towson is in Ottawa on August 17th/18th for a pair of games against Carleton Alumni and then the present day Ravens. Depending upon who shows up for the Alumni, Towson may get a better game from them than the Varsity.

RYERSON COACHING SITUATION... For those who didn't hear earlier in the summer, Ryerson University and Head Coach Glenn Taylor parted ways and Rams new AD Ivan Joseph has been hot on the trail of a new coach. With interviews completed this past week, expect the new coach to be announced shortly and don't be surprised if the Rams are able to pull in a big-name, successful coach as Joseph looks to make an early big splash with what is likely their showcase sport at the University. If my guess is correct, expect one of the bigger rivalries in the CIS to suffer but another great rivalry in downtown Toronto to start. More on this topic hopefully sooner than later.

HARD WORKING ASPIRING YOUNG COACH... A number of people have recently commented to me on the efforts of former Brock All-Canadian and now Badger Assistant Coach Brad Rootes, hard at work virtually every day on the spring/summer circuit of camps, tournaments and recruiting. Rootes, who when healthy usually played every minute of every game as a player for his full five-year career, seems to have translated that work ethic and competitiveness into his aspiring coaching career as he is all over the place. Rootes was a big part of the process in assembling one of Canada's top recruiting classes for the young Badgers, including blue chipper 6'5" Clinton Springer-Williams (London Regina Mundi Catholic), who turned downed Division 1 scholarship offers, 6'9" Brian Nahimana (London Montcalm), 6'6" Andrew Cicuttini (Dundas Parkside), 6'7" Riley Halpin (Halifax Citadel), 5'11" Nathan Samuels (Brantford Assumption), 6'7" Anto Raic (Welland Notre Dame) and 6'4" Alex Reis (Hamilton Cathedral). This huge influx of talent will join last season's CIS Rookie of Year 6'0" Didi Mukendi and flashy 6'1" pg Joel Whitty, both expected to return, to give Brock a deep pool of very young talent. One of the worst-kept secrets in CIS circles is who will replace two-time CIS Nationals champion coach Ken Murray when he decides to move on at Brock; make no mistake about it, Rootes is being groomed for the job and, to the respect of many, he appears to be taking nothing for granted, biding his time and showing the hunger for learning the game from a coach's perspective. He is a young guy and when he finally does take over, he will be competing against an outstanding stable of experienced coaches in the OUA but given his success as a player and what he's done so far in a matter of months on Coach Murray's staff, expect big things in the future from the little guard from Niagara Falls.

RAVENS RETOOL... With several different senior classes leading the way during the 6-CIS-titles-in-7 years run, Carleton Head Coach Dave Smart has consistently been able to overcome the loss of experienced, veteran leadership during this incredible run. After Carleton's first title in 2002-03, the whispers were that losing All-Canadians Jafeth Maseruka and Robbie Smart would make it difficult to repeat. A couple of championships later, the losses of Mike Smart, Paul Larmand and Josh Poirier signalled an opportunity to opponents to stop Carleton's streak. Two years later, Oswaldo Jeanty hoisted his 5th consecutive McGee Trophy. This season, Coach Smart must replace three seniors in Stuart Turnbull, Aaron Doornekamp and Rob Saunders - two All-Canadians and the CIS Defensive Player-of-the-Year, who collectively made 80-90% of the offensive decisions on the floor, were probably the three hardest-playing and toughest practice players on the roster and led the Ravens to another championship with big-time plays in the biggest spots. Further, with the graduation of Doornekamp this past year and Jeanty two seasons prior, this marks the first season since the reign began that Carleton is without a five-year starter and consensus All-Canadian on the floor. Maybe most importantly, this may be the youngest, least-experienced Carleton group under Coach Smart, with only two players who are rotation-likely in their fourth year or higher. Nonetheless, the mantle has now handed to a pair of local Ottawa kids who were high school teammates at Sir Robert Borden in Nepean, 6'8" fifth-year forward Kevin McCleery and 5'11" fourth-year guard Mike Kenny. The Ravens became much more comfortable dumping the ball down into the post to McCleery last season and he generally delivered albeit not as consistently as he probably can. McCleery also showed that, in tandem with Doornekamp, he can make good decisions from both the low and high post but unless another big man begins to demand defensive respect, expect McCleery to have to deal with double and triple teams much more frequently whereever he lines up offensively this season, highlighting the need to showcase his improving passing skills. Kenny, who may be the best pure standstill shooter in the Smart coaching era at Carleton, deferred to Turnbull and Doornekamp in the quarter-court much of the time the past two seasons and he must now accept responsibility for making key decisions for 40 or 50 possessions instead of 10 or 20. Other less obvious candidates for feature time include 6'3" Elliott Thompson, who made several big shots at the Nationals and was thought of so much by the staff that he was on the floor for the final possession of the dramatic Nationals semi-final victory over Western and the athletic 6'4" Cole Hobin who can dazzle in spots and continues to seek the mental and physical consistency to be handed the reigns for large parts of games. In previous years, the Ravens showed they could overcome heavy losses of key seniors; last season, Smart proved he could win a title without the great Jeanty; this season's challenges however could be even more daunting, which for the ultra-competitive and challenge-inviting Smart is just fine. CIS fans get their first look at this group on Tuesday, August 18th when Towson, an NCAA Division 1 team from Towson, MD and the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) visit the Raven's Nest in Ottawa.

National Team 1-1 so far in Italy

July 26
Canada 74 Portugal 55
Italy 88 New Zealand 70

July 25
New Zealand 98 Portugal 91
Italy 91 Canada 69
Italy hold off Canada at Trentino Cup opener - Jul 26, 2009 (by Eurobasket News)
Italy celebrated the opening win at the Trentino Cup. Four teams hit the road as Italy faced Canada, while New Zealand played against Portugal in the first round of action. Andrea Bargnani (209-F/C-85) unleashed 28 points to pace the Azzurri to the starting victory. The teams were tied at 19 after ten minutes of action. But the hosts started to take over in the second quarter. They held Canada to 15 points in the second frame to earn an 11-point lead at halftime. Italy continued to dominate after the long break. They ballooned the margin to 22 points heading into the fourth period. Canada failed to reignite the intrigue as the home team cruised to the win at the end. Marco Belinelli (196-G-86) scored 22 points for Italy. Luigi Datome (202-G/F-87) and Aradori added 8 points apiece for the winners. Jesse Young (207-C-80, college: George Mason) notched 16 points for Canada. Andy Rautins (196-G-86) had 15 points in the losing case.

Italy: Andrea Bargnani 28, Marco Belinelli 22, Luigi Datome 8, Pietro Aradori (192-G-88) 8
Canada: Jesse Young, 16 pts Andy Rautins, 15 pts Tyler Kepkay, 12 pts

Final Round Games Today:
Italy (2-0) vs. Portugal (0-2)
Canada (1-1) vs. New Zealand (1-1)
For those so inclined

Rest of Canada's schedule:
July 27 - vs. New Zealand (5:30pm local time)
Trento, Italy

July 29 - vs. Turkey
Bormio, Italy

July 30 - vs. Turkey
Bormio, Italy

August 1 - vs. Italy
Mogliano Veneto, Italy

FIBA Americas 2009 Championships in Puerto Rico