Monday, 24 August 2009

Various Things

LATE ROSTER UPDATE FOR MEXICO (Canada's first opponent at 2009 FIBA Americas tournament this coming Thursday) aka GOOD NEWS FOR CANADA... The New Jersey Nets have refused to give Eduardo Najera permision to play for Team Mexico in the FIBA Americas Cup starting Wednesday in Puerto Rico. Najera is coming off a lost season that featured hernia surgery, but should be healthy to start this season for the Nets. The Pacers’ Earl Watson won’t play either, after he failed to get his Mexican passport in time.

NCAA GAMES IN WINDSOR...For fans in Southern Ontario, don't forget that the Windsor Lancers are hosting Ohio State Buckeyes, NCAA Division 1 Big Ten, this coming Friday and Saturday night. We hope to have a preview of the Lancers up prior to the weekend. Advance tickets are available at the East Entrance of the St Denis Centre between 9:30-3:30 Monday through Friday. Large crowds are expected for both games, which begin at 6 PM on both Friday and Saturday. Note that Ohio State features 6'7" sophomore wing Evan Turner who has been ranked as high as #8 in various 2010 NBA mock drafts. Turner is described as a multi-dimensional player who can handle the ball at his size and also score in a variety of ways... One of the best Lancers in recent years, 6'1" guard Ryan Steer, who played in Europe last season, is helping the Lancers during their preparation for this weekend's games. As Windsor coach Chris Oliver describes: "We always felt Ryan would be a super coach someday and our players are getting the benefit of his knowledge for now and possibly longer if he decides to stay in Windsor."... I got a nice note from Chris Lund who is a partner in a new venture on OUA sports called Always OUA As Chris describes it: "It's a student run site covering all OUA sports that we started up because we want to get more of our fellow students (I go to Queen's, he attends Waterloo) following OUA sports. Basically we're trying to cover as many sports as possible to try and foster an interest amongst our peers. That being said, we will be covering OUA basketball once the season rolls around (right now our emphasis is on football) and thought fellow CIS fans might want to check it out." Best of luck with this site; the more folks who write about and communicate information on Canadian university basketball, the better... Also got a note from (former) Lakehead SID Mike Aylward, who for many years ranked among the best in the country in terms of sports information. Mike pointed out my typo regarding T-Wolves emerging sophomore forward Yoosrie Salhia, who is only 6'5"; not 6'8" as I had written. At only 6'5", Salhia led the entire CIS in rebounding and averages a double/double yet, as Mike somewhat lamented, he was not selected as on the CIS All Rookie team. Mike is also expecting a break out year for 6'6" Andrew Hackner, son of former Canadian and World Curling champion Al Hackner. Aylward was also touting all-OUA rookie selection Greg Carter as being poised for a big year, pointing out that Carter played extremely well in his meetings last season with CIS Rookie-of-the-Year Didi Mukendi of Brock. Mukendi, Carter, Western's Ryan Barbeau, Mac's Tyrell Vernon and Laurier's Travis Berry among others make up a high quality stable of young, maturing guards in the OUA West... UBC will again provide radio and Internet coverage for 12 of their 18 Canada West regular season games and lead announcer Wilson Wong was nice enough to pass along this season's schedule of games on CiTR. Wong and crew do a tremendous job preparing for and announcing T-Bird games and these broadcasts are as professionally done as any in the country. We will publish the list as the regular season draws closer.... Finally, a very strong recap of what sounded like an unbelievably exciting Canada Games gold medal championship as Quebec came from 4 points down with just seconds remaining to win on a three with 0.1 seconds remaining.

Heartbreaking loss: Osse’s buzzer-beater sends Quebec to a 105-103 win over N.S. for basketball gold By BRIAN FREEMAN Sports Reporter

Kemy Osse’s buzzer-beater Saturday morning dashed the dreams of an underdog Nova Scotia men’s basketball squad that was only a few heartbeats away from a Canada Games gold medal.

Osse poured in 30 points, including the decisive hoop just before time expired, to lead Quebec to a thrilling 105-103 triumph over the Bluenoses in a championship showdown of 4-0 teams at Credit Union Place in Summerside.

Nova Scotia, which rallied to upset heavily favoured Ontario in the semifinals, had come back from a 17-point deficit and was leading by four with under a minute to go. But Quebec scored on a putback and Osse sank a jumper to tie it up with 4.8 seconds left. After Nova Scotia turned the ball over on its next possession, Osse got the inbounds pass and scored the winner on a contested shot from the foul line area.

"We defended it pretty well, he just kinda leaned away from the guy and shot it," Nova Scotia coach Tim Kendrick said after the game. "It was a good shot but it was a real tough shot; defensively, we were there, it just went in, you know."

Kendrick said his players were "devastated" immediately after the dramatic loss but their spirits had improved by the time they went to collect their silver medals.

"We’re obviously disappointed the way the game ended but . . . we pulled ourselves together in the locker-room afterwards, we had some good talks and then for the medal ceremony, the coaching staff told the kids to make sure they understand how far they’ve come and this is something to be celebrated."

Saturday’s podium finish marked Nova Scotia’s first Canada Games medal in men’s basketball since the 1987 edition won gold in Cape Breton.

"They really gave everything they had," Kendrick said of his players, who beat Ontario 83-81 on a shot with 7.6 seconds remaining.

"Getting behind again kind of hurt us because you use so much energy coming back but I’ll tell you they left it all out on the floor. There was nothing left in the tank at the end of the game."

D.J. Smith of Halifax netted 27 points, including four treys, to lead the silver medallists and Mandrez Downey of Cole Harbour had 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Marquis Clayton and Tyler Scott, both of Halifax, had 15 each and Rodell Wigginton of Dartmouth had 12 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.

Smith, whose key steal at the end of Thursday’s semifinal sank Ontario’s fortunes, conceded the loss was a heartbreaker.

"Yes, it’s very difficult, we put a lot of passion into our comeback, we played hard," he said. "It still hurts, but we’ll get over it."

Scott, who drained the winning shot against Ontario, said he too was disappointed with the outcome of Saturday’s game but coming home with a silver medal was some consolation.

"I mean, it’s not gold but I still don’t mind it," the 17-year-old said. "It was a good game, we shoulda won, but we won a medal so that’s all I can ask for. Nobody expected us to win but . . . we felt we could win so that’s all that really mattered."

Nova Scotia trailed by 11 points after the first quarter and was down 48-38 at the half before piling up 20 unanswered points during a third-quarter run to take the lead.

Kendrick said he was proud of his team’s performance and the manner in which the players had come together as a unit over the summer.

"We knew we were in tough against some of our opponents but we believed in each other and the players responded accordingly," he said.

"I think months ago when we had the team picked and things, a lot of people wouldn’t probably expect us to be in a gold medal game in the nationals at the Canada Games, so I think in some degree maybe we overachieved (but) we felt like we were right where we were supposed to be."

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