Sunday, 16 August 2009

Sunday Musings

CANADIAN NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE: With the latest leg of training camp winding up yesterday, the National Team now heads to Puerto Rico and their first game at the Tuto Marchand Cup against the host Puerto Ricans. Canada is coming off a five day set of workouts at the Air Canada Center in Toronto. Several observers have commented on how much more together this group of players is compared to previous years. With only one NBA player on the roster (Joel Anthony) and several veterans of previous Canadian international teams here, as one observer puts it: "everyone who wants to be here is here and wants to play for Canada without any reservation. The team looks to be very together and everyone appears loose and ready to do whatever it takes to qualify." CIS alumni Aaron Doornekamp and Ryan Bell are still working out with the team and Doornekamp is likely a fixture on the 12 man roster. Bell, meanwhile, who at a long 6'4" can defend the bigger international guards, is very unselfish and doesn't take a lot of chances when handling the ball, also has a chance to stick as a backup guard to the ever-improving Tyler Kepkay, the Utah grad from B.C. who Coach Leo Rautins looks to have entrusted more and more decision making on the floor. Obsevers are also commenting on the strong contributions from the very beginning this summer of Renato Pasquali, the Italian import coach that Rautins brought in to help acclimate his side to how Euroballers prepare for the international game. Doornekamp, as you will see in his interview with Neate Sager (link below) echos these sentiments. We hope to have more on the Nats as information becomes available.... Neate Sager from the CISBlog shares his exclusive interview with Aaron Doornekamp and his reaction to signing his deal in Italy... Former St. FX X-Men Neil McDonald and Garry Gallimore are again finding roles in pro leagues across the globe. McDonald, who played in France last year before the very sudden and untimely passing of his mother about two days prior to his scheduled flight home for Christmas. McDonald then tried to start the second half of the season but quickly asked out of the remainder of his contract to join his family in their obvious time of need. McDonald is looking to land a spot in the Japanese professional league in time for this fall. Gallimore recently attended a professional exposure camp in Orlando, Florida where he was spotted by player agent Merle Scott, who was Vince Carter's rep when he was a Toronto Raptor and also currently represents Canadian National team members Tyler Kepkay and Kyle Landry... Sources from out west tell me that U of T may have got a steal in 6'4" Dakota Laurin from Calgary. Laurin is described as a slasher/scorer who is improving his jumper. Instead of playing in the Alberta Provincial team system, Laurin played in the club system and word was that he had committed to a D II school near San Diego. Otherwise he likely would have been a major CIS recruit. However in the spring Laurin changed his view and later his visit with Mike Katz and staff went exceptionally well and a committment to the Blues ensued. This season's Grade 12 class in Alberta was above average in talent and some regard Laurin as a top three type player in this class... Congratulations to former Lethbridge coach Mike Connolly who was recently named the new head coach at Keyano College in Fort McMurray, Alberta. They play basketball in the Alberta Colleges Athletic League, but move up to the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (which is in the CCAA) next year. Connolly, a native of Cobourg, Ontario, played his university basketball at Lakehead University before spending several seasons as the top assistant to Ken Olynyk at the University of Toronto during the mid-90's when the Blues made multiple Nationals appearances... Romanian native 6'5" Vali Lazarescu who played his CEGEP ball at Champlain-St. Lambert and is a pure scorer who also has several highlights on You Tube showing his dunking prowess, has returned to Montreal after playing sparingly in one season at the College of William and Mary, an NCAA Division 1 program in the Colonial Athletic Association. Originally destined for McGill, look for Lazarescu to show up at Concordia in the fall... I was able to get a quick look at the much-hyped Kevin Pangos, a young point guard out of York Region who is leading Ontario's Provincial team. Pangos, son of current York Lions women's head coach and former U of T star Bill Pangos, is very impressive handling and distributing and generally shows an above average bball iq for a 15 year old. Although referring to him, as some have, as Steve Nash 2.0 may be a bit premature, the kid already has plenty of game. However, his eyes were widen somewhat during a recent set of scrimmages between the Ontario Provincial team and a group of Carleton Ravens. In two scrimmages, the group of Ravens pummelled the Provincial team by over 50 points each time and Pangos was left shaking his head surprisingly at the quality of players at the CIS level... Ryerson's signing of Roy Rana as Head Coach get some run with the Toronto Star's David Grossman: Rana signs with Ryerson. Press release from St. John's regarding their up coming visit to Ottawa and Montreal: QUEENS, N.Y. (Aug. 13, 2009) – The St. John’s men’s basketball team will get a preseason test as head coach Norm Roberts and the squad take a trip to Montreal and Ottawa, Canada, this coming Labor Day weekend. The Red Storm will take on four Canadian university squads across a two-day stretch as the team continues its offseason preparation for the 2009-10 season. St. John’s will face an ambitious Canadian schedule, meeting McGill University (1 p.m.) and the University of Quebec at Montreal (8 p.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 5, at the teams’ home venues. The Red Storm heads to Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, to meet Carleton University (1 p.m.) and the University of Ottawa (8:30 p.m.) on Sunday, Sept. 6. Red Storm fans will be able to follow all of the action north of the border via, the online home of St. John’s Athletics, and @STJ_Basketball on ( The websites will feature game recaps, features and photos from Friday, Sept. 4 through Monday, Sept. 7, featuring photo galleries, game recaps and daily blog entries. “Canada and the time leading up to the trip gives us a chance to work out together early, and form a bond with each other as teammates,” said Roberts. “It is a time also for us to work on some things that will give us a jumpstart to the season. Our guys are excited about getting together early and getting this season started, after everyone worked so hard this summer at preparing their bodies and improving their games.” In its Labor Day weekend visit to Canada, St. John’s makes its first foreign tour of the Roberts Era, as collegiate teams are allowed one international trip every four years. The Red Storm had planned a similar Labor Day trip to Cancun prior to the 2008-09 season, but was forced to canceled due to severe weather in the area of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula as a result of Hurricane Gustav. Hall of Fame Coach Lou Carnesecca was the last mentor to lead St. John’s on an international trip, as the squad traveled to Spain in the summer of 1991 in advance of All-American Malik Sealy’s senior year. The Red Storm was granted 10 days of team practice in advance of its foreign travel, as per NCAA rules, and will begin weekday sessions on Monday, Aug. 24. Junior transfers Justin Brownlee and Dwight Hardy and freshmen Omari Lawrence and Malik Stith will practice for the first time with their teammates on Wednesday, Sept. 2, as the fall semester officially begins in Queens. The rookies will be eligible to participate in the Red Storm’s Canadian contests. The four-man class of newcomers will be added to the 13 letterwinners returning to the court for the Red Storm in 2009-10, comprising Roberts’ most experienced squad as he heads into his sixth season on the STJ bench. The 2009-10 Red Storm boasts six returnees with significant starting experience, and returns 97.2 percent of its scoring and 95.1 percent of its rebounding from a 2008-09 squad that won 16 games, including St. John’s first BIG EAST Tournament victory since 2003.

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