Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Golden Bears Preview from U of A's Gateway student paper

Here is the first of hopefully numerous student-newspaper sourced articles from around the country, this one previewing the Alberta Golden Bears and new coach Greg Francis (the article mentions that the games are this weekend however the trip is not until the weekend after this one - Thanksgiving weekend).

Basketball Bears head east for preseason action

Photo: AIR TIME Scott Leigh is one of the returning Bears who will be looked to for leadership.

With a new head coach patrolling the sidelines, and a number of new faces on the floor, the Bears basketball team will be a young group this season. New head coach Greg Francis will get his first chance to see his team in action against CIS competition this weekend as the Bears fly out to Toronto for three exhibition games against OUA opponents.

The preseason games will be key for the Bears, especially with a new coach and a wealth of new players looking to get much needed experience.

"For everybody — all the coaches, athletes — everybody is excited about preseason games because you get a chance to work against someone else," Francis said.

"We need any game experience. If you've got a group of guys and want to suit up and play, let's do it because we just need to get the reps," Francis joked.

The Bears will face the Toronto Varsity Blues, McMaster Marauders, and Ryerson Rams over the weekend in the team's first trip under the new head coach.

"It's going to be very good for the team, not so much in terms of what the results will be, but in terms of getting out there and getting a feel for game day and travel. U of T will be very good this year, and McMaster is much improved," Francis pointed out. "I look forward to seeing how our guys react, and I think they will use those opportunities to get better for the season."

Francis has been able to bring in some top-end talent in the offseason. Khas Tokar, Jamaal Bucknor and Brett Kallio all join the Bears after gaining valuable experience at the ACAC level, while the Bears will also welcome Harry Ainlay high-school standout Jordan Baker to the team, who played for Francis over the summer.

"Recruiting has been great. Jordan is the familiar guy, he had a chance to play on the Junior National Team this summer and did well there, so I think he's coming in with a bit more confidence than people are expecting."

Along with Baker, Todd Bergen-Henengouwen and Ken Otieno are two young players coming out of high school.

"Todd Bergen-Henengouwen and Ken Otieno, those two guys by themselves would be a great start to a recruiting class, but to add them into the rest of the group of young guys definitely makes me feel good about the future and what we can do this year," Francis said.

The lone recruit hailing from outside Alberta is a player Francis knows well through the Junior National Team: Rob Dewar. Dewar will bring a big-man presence to the Bears standing at 6-11.

Complementing the new recruits will be a solid cast of returning players that are sure to bring much-needed experience.

"The kids that are here from last year's team are probably some of the toughest kids that were on the team last year, and I think they're coming with some maturity and experience in the Canada West that's going to help us."

With a new coach and a host of new talent, the Bears will be looking to establish their brand of basketball starting this weekend in Southern Ontario.

"I'd like to see that our team is a little bit more up tempo," Francis explained. "I think we'll be the type of style that people will like to come and see. Offensively we're going to be pretty good and defensively we're going to be able to use our size to cause difficulty for other teams."

Schools protest elite hoopsters

The Hamilton Spectator has an article highlighting one of the ripple effects of the shutting down of the NEDA program. This involves the girls program at St. Mary's in Hamilton coached by former McMaster Marauder and Guelph Gryphon Richie Wesolowski.

Schools protest elite hoopsters

NEDA folds, St. Mary's benefits

The collapse of a Basketball Canada program has created a messy situation for a local girls' league.

Canada Basketball's National Elite Development Academy (NEDA) for girls was chopped due to funding issues.

The national development training program was hosted by Hamilton. The girls attended St. Mary's High School and trained at McMaster University.

When the program collapsed, three of the girls decided to stay at St. Mary's. Others returned home.

The decision by the three -- Natalie Achonwa (Guelph), Karly Roser (Ancaster) and Alexandra Yantzi (Burlington) -- created a furor in the Hamilton Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association girls' basketball league.

At first, teams threatened to boycott games with St. Mary's Crusaders' senior girls' team.

Now the games are being played, but under protest.

"I'm happy we're playing basketball games," said St. Mary's head coach Rich Wesolowski. "That's what I'm happy about."

However, Doug Gellatly, executive director of the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations, the provincial governing body, says there are no rules to have the girls declared ineligible.

"It was not like they were transfer students. They had attended that school for at least a year," he said. "We do not have a rule in place covering the NEDA program."

If OFSAA says the girls are eligible, it should be the end of the protest.

It's not.

Websites such as TheHoop-la.com are filled with angry postings.

A petition is being circulated by angry St. Mary's parents regarding the unfair treatment of former players who were cut from the team.

Others complain the players give St. Mary's an unfair advantage.

"It is a unique situation," said HWCAA superintendent Mary Cippolla, who is in charge of athletics. "NEDA folded and the girls have been at St. Mary's for as many as three years. They are not transfer students under our constitution, GHAC and OFSAA."

Wesolowski says if they are eligible, they are eligible, period.

"It is what it is," he said. "It's been stressful. I'm here trying to coach and all this stuff is happening."

Despite playing under protest, HWCAA girls' basketball coaches have been placed under a gag order.

"People are upset. They don't see this as being fair," said one parent, who wished to remain anonymous. "St. Mary's would have been good without these players. It would have been a battle between BT (Bishop Tonnos), STM (St. Thomas More), Brebeuf (St. Jean de Brebeuf), and St. Mary's. Now, there are three teams left to fight for second."

Another issue is the OFSAA quad-A girls' basketball tournament being hosted by Hamilton.

Chances of a second team from the HWCAA league making it to the tournament are slim. They would have to beat a very powerful Burlington Notre Dame team.

Canada Basketball started the NEDA program as a "Pathway to Excellence" in 2005.

It brought the top 12 male and female development athletes from across Canada, aged 15-18, to train at McMaster University and attend school at St. Mary's.

They were to have access to world-class training, sport science and medical support services at McMaster.

Games would be played against Canadian university and college teams, as well as a number of prep schools and club teams in the United States.

"I found out at the end of August the NEDA program had run out of funding," Wesolowski said. "I don't exactly know what happened."

But, he adds, the girls had a choice what they wanted to do. Some went home. Three stayed.

"I had nothing to do with bringing these kids here," Wesolowski noted. "They were already here going to school at St. Mary's. They made friends here and decided to stay."

One of the three, Achonwa, is not eligible to play for the Crusaders since she is playing on Canada's National team.

She's still taking classes at St. Mary's.

Roser, a 5-foot-9 guard, and Yantzi, a 6-foot-4 forward, are playing for the Crusaders.

"From Day 1 our principal (Emidio Piccioni) was open to everybody what may happen. He contacted GHAC, our board and OFSAA. They all knew," Wesolowski said. "We weren't hiding anything."

He suspects some people are upset with the rule and the decision to play under protest was made behind closed doors.

"What have I done?" asked the head coach. "I'm trying to coach a team from the best players available. If someone has a problem with that, they can say it to my face. I'm a coach. I'm not in charge of the rules.

"The meeting that was held about this had nothing to do with coaching, nothing to do with basketball. It was all politics."

He says the bottom line is "we all have to live with the decisions that have been made."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Veteran James looks to improve Paladins

Head Coach Scott James begins his second season at the helm of the RMC Paladins with much more optimism and promise. James came on just prior to last season without the benefit of a full year to recruit and as James says "the results spoke for themselves" as the Paladins went winless, playing with a roster entirely made up of first and second year players. The returning group, led by 6'9" center Nick Cooke, is much more CIS-tested and James was able to bring in at least three recruits expect to join the rotation, one of which was a noted high school start who will start at the all-important point guard position. Expect this team, with four third-year starters, continue to mature and gain confidence, which started with a decisive 40 point win this past Thursday over King's College of Edmonton.

Originally from Halifax, James has 23 experience coaching at various levels, most recently as an assistant to John Campbell at Dal before taking the reigns at RMC. James also has coached 10 different provincial teams for Nova Scotia over the years as well as high school and small college in Halifax.

Last season's leading scorer Cooke (11.5 ppg), who played his final year of high schoool at Toronto power house Eastern Commerce, was well recruited by several CIS schools in his final prep year and gives Paladins a legitimate man in the middle. Most CIS big men take at least two seasons to develop so expect Cooke, entering his third season, to start to command more respect in paint offensively and become more active defending the basket.

Cooke is complemented on a tall front line by 6'7" third-year forward Simon Dakin , a strong rebounder (5.7 rpg last season) and 6'6 third-year forward Matt Wookey who was second on the Paladins in three-point shots made. 6'9" Cooke, 6'7" Dakin and 6'6" Wookey were Paladins top three scorers last season and form the makings of a solid front line.

5'10 Gavin Viray-Cox, also entering his third season, ran the point last season and, given the arrival of freshman Justin Hill (Halifax Queen Elizabeth H.S.), will now more over to play the two and provide an outside shooting threat. Hill is RMC's top recruit and was one of the 100 top Canadian high school players as nominated for 2007 All-Canadian High School basketball game.

Coach James should get more contribution from his bench this season as returning 6'1" 2nd year guard James Byun (Toronto) adds depth to the wing spot. Two more solid freshmen, 6'3 Jon Wilson (Tecumseh, ON, St. Anne's), one of the mainstays of back-to-back "AAAA" OFSAA participants in '08 and '09, will probably be one of the first wings off the bench and freshman forward Chris Nicholson (Ottawa Colonel By), likely to be the first big off the bench.

As coach James comments: "The goal for this year is to improve everytime out and compete hard. With the new additions to the team, practices so far this year are more competitive and there is a sense of taking steps ahead as a program."

The Paladins come off their first win in a while last weekend and will host Concordia and Laval this coming weekend in Kingston to kick of their pre-season schedule.

Golden Bears/Horwood Documentary

This sounds like a very good project by Chris Horwood, son of former Bears coach Don Horwood and a very good player for Alberta in his own right earlier this decade. Chris Horwood began filming this feature-length documentary about the Golden Bears basketball team in September, 2008. Narrated by sports broadcasting legend John Short, the film features Golden Bears film footage from all across Canada supported a full soundtrack by local Alberta musicians. The film will show locally in Edmonton on the 5th and 13th of October and DVDs will be for sale after the event on the 5th. To obtain your own copy of the DVD, contact Chris via email at cab2pro@gmail.com . The last time I recall any Canadian men's basketball program being chronicled in a similar manner was an excellent multi-part series about 10 years ago on the Humber Hawks that featured Coach Mike Katz and touched on the lives of several student/athletes in Toronto and their challenges on and off the court... For this project by Chris Horwood, we look forward to the DVD and the unravelling the mystery as to whether or not new Alberta head man Greg Francis will be making his Hollywood debut in this film.

******************************************************************************


Cabin 2 Productions presents:

On the Line

a feature-length documentary film

In September of 2008, in the Main Gym at the University of Alberta, surrounded by championship banners, head basketball coach Don Horwood assembled his last team.

Going inside the locker room and using the natural progression of a single season, On the Line explores the psychological and physical demands required for a team to be successful in competitive sport as well as the relationships between the players and one of the last coaches from the old school.



Showing two nights only: October 5 and October 13
Doors: 7 Film: 7.30
$10, general admission
Myer Horowitz Theatre
Students Union Building, University of Alberta Campus

Monday, September 28, 2009

Quick note on RSS Feeds

I have had several requests for subscribing to RSS feeds for this site and with some help from Neate Sager I think I've figured out how to do so. Apparently from the emails I've got requesting RSS feeds, clicking on the "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)" link at the end of this page (at the very bottom) or maybe by clicking here and following the instructions, you will be notified each time I update this site. For those who find this efficient, I hope this works.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Musings

It is great to see CIS basketball begin to embrace the new media with tools such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs providing coaches, players, alumni and fans with an opportunity to communicate information, opinions and thoughts about CIS sports. Apart from the official university web sites across the country which are getting better and the official CIS site, which basically hasn't changed formats for several years, over the past few years there have been a handful of alumni/fan driven sites most prominent of which come to mind are xmenbasketball.com (complements of the Blue and White X-press Booster club , huskiehoops.com, queensbasketball dinosbasketball Recently, Brandon has introduced a site on Facebook and Western has an alumni blog, Mustangs Backcourt Club Blog. Also, alwaysoua site is an alternative to OUA official site. We have highlighted UPEI Panther blog several times as well. These sites provide specific details on programs and as they grow should provide more and more impetus for the mainstream sports fan to follow CIS sports. It is easier than one might believe to get one of these started (even I got one going !). As more of these grassroots sites come on board, the CIS basketball ecosystem grows, hopefully to a position of greater prominence on the Canadian sporting landscape.

More on the best 7 footer to ever play in the CIS from our "wishes-to-remain anonymous" Western correspondent who chimes in with his vote for Port Perry, ON's own Jim Zoet, who played at Lakehead, followed by a nice tangent onto the 1980 National team:

To me, the best I ever saw was Jim Zoet (pronounced "Zoot"). He returned from Kent State in 1976-77 and I think I saw Zoet live in eight games that year (including the nationals. They lost the final to Acadia.) I was amazed he was a refugee from the MAC. Of course, he got a lot better after his Lakehead days too. I so wish the 1980 Olympic team that qualifed would have had a chance to go (Boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics over USSR's entry into Afgahnistan kept Canada away). The qualifying tournament regular starters: Martin Riley, Varouj Gurunlian/Jay Triano, Leo Rautins, Romel Raffin, Jim Zoet. Triano was fifth guard. Gurunlian got hurt in the qualifier. Triano jumped over Doc Ryan and Howard Kelsey into the starting line-up. And never looked back. The non starters: Kelsey, Ryan, Perry Mirkovich, Tom Bishop, Ross Quackenbush, Rene Dolcetti. (Steve Atkin was hurt. He may well have joined the team for the Olympics had they gone...). Not a bad squad at all. And nine played at least some of their career in the CIS. Ten if you count Simon Fraser re Jay. Eleven if you count Simon Fraser re Atkin. Only Rautins and Kelsey played exclusively in the States (and Kelsey only played part of his career in DI.) Six (or seven, or eight re Simon Fraser with Triano/Atkin) played all of their university ball in the CIS.


Well done by UNB to play their Eric Garland tournament at the Galen Center, their hockey facility that seats about 4,000, with a portable floor. Hopefully the tournament will draw and it will make financial sense for the Reds to play more games in that building... Get well wishes go out to former Acadia Head Coach Ian MacMillian, who recently underwent gall bladder surgery and is in the process of recovering at his home in Windsor, N.S. MacMillian led the Acadia Axemen, with All-Canadian Ted Upshaw, to the CIAU championship game in 1981 before falling to UVic before an overflow crowd of over 6,000 at the Waterloo PAC, which at that time was the gold standard for an on-campus facility with the band playing, plenty of atmosphere and, for the biggest events, overflow crowds. The last big event I can remember that drew sell-out crowds at Waterloo was in 1992 during Dave Picton's freshman season when the Quebec teams were part of the OUA East and the Wilson Cup was a four-team tournament and Brock, which went on to win their first National championship, played Guelph I believe in what was an electric atmosphere... This coming week marks the first full slate of pre-season games beginning on Wednesday night when Laurier Golden Hawks visit Fanshawe College in London. Thursday night Douglas College goes to Trinity Western and then several games are slated for Friday including Laval meeting the Ottawa Gee-Gees at Heritage College in Gatineau (formerly Hull), Quebec, Fraser Valley visiting Columbia Bible College and Simon Fraser hosting University of Vancouver Island. Laval continues on to Kingston along with Concordia to play RMC and Queen's. Old friends John Dore and Barry Smith also hook up as the Stingers will also play St. Lawrence College. The weekend highlight may be the University of Toronto Varsity Blues matchup against Sheridan College in Oakville on Saturday night, which should be a treat for GTA fans. Enjoy the games.

Reworked roster, Moser candidate Charlery keep 'Cats near the top

Second year Head Coach Keith Vassell continues the re-engineering of his Brandon Bobcats as at least 8 new faces arrive in the Wheat City to join a very strong core group led by 6'3" Moser candidate Dany Charlery (Montreal), one of only 4 returnees to the roster. Brandon captured another Great Plains division championship last season before losing in the Canada West semi-final to eventual national finalist UBC and then dropping an 11 point game in the bronze medal game that eliminated Brandon from wild card consideration. Expect Vassell, originally from Scarborough Mother Teresa and an All-Canadian during his playing days in Brandon, to continue to play in the 'Cats tradition of pressing, pushing up on the ball, running and getting all over the offensive glass led by Charlery and company.

Charlery (21.1 ppg/32.5 mpg) once again had an All-Canadian season in 2008-09 despite being the main focus of opposing defenses and can score in a variety of ways, slashing to the rim, pulling up and range well beyond the 3. One of the finest athletes in the CIS, Charlery can carry his team in stretches and grades out as one of the finest Bobcats ever as he enters his fifth and final season.

Great guard play is a staple of Brandon basketball and this season Vassell has the luxury of two above-average point guards beginning with 6'2" fifth-year Tarik Tokar, who averaged about 12 ppg in 33 mpg last season after transfering from Manitoba, setting the table for Charlery and company. Brandon also adds one of the better young points in the country in 6'1" third-year Andrew Kraus (transfer/Acadia) who led the Axemen to that improbable upset of Carleton two seasons ago at the Nationals. Kraus, son of long-time GTA coach George Kraus, as Vassell says, "sets very high standards for himself" and immediately jumps into a strong leadership role for the Bobcats. Kraus, always a very good decision-maker and passer, continues to gain consistency with his jumper and will be a very good complement to Tokar.

Complementing Charlery on the wing is returning 6'4" sharp-shooter Kyle Vince, who has a dangerously-quick release and can heat up when he gets his feet set with a good look at the rim. One other returnee projects as Brandon's defensive stopper: 6'4" Donovan Gayle, a third-year swingman from Markham Milliken Mills, who has a football-type body and uses his strength and athleticism to guard anywhere from the 2 through the 5 where necessary. Gayle starts his second season in Brandon after one season in Maine at an NAIA school.

With 6'0" Rejean Chabot (17.4 ppg/30 mpg) still with the program but sitting out this season and a number of players from last season not returning, Vassell hit the recruiting trail hard and the results were tremendous, beginning with a pair of U.S. imports. In slender 6'7" Kyrie Coleman (Cardosa H.S./Washington D.C.), the 'Cats get a swing forward with length and athleticism who can guard wings and posts and loves transition. Fortifying the backcourt is 6'1" freshman Terril Thomas from Chicago, a 25 year old who has been out of high school for several years and expects to make an immediate impact for Brandon. The 'Cats also welcome back 6'6" Martin Lawrence who returns after playing his first season with Brandon in 2007-08. Vassell compares Lawrence, who will be in the rotation as a 4 man, to another former GTA star, Oliver Prince , with his stocky build and explosiveness around the rim.

Two more outstanding athletes will likely contribute beginning with 6'6" Jordan Reaves (Winnipeg Shaftsbury), who Vassell believes is one of the best pure athlete in the CIS already as a freshman. Reaves continues to get comfortable with his game but has already flashed some big-time potential and instincts in pre-season practices. 6'0" freshman Jelani Deliovsky is a slasher who can create and knock shots down and comes from a prominent high school program, Hamilton St. Mary's, where he played for former Mac Marauder Jamie Girolametto.

Vassell is also very high on 6'11" freshman James Elias, who grew up on a farm near Morden, MB and has shown dramatic improvement in the first month of his university career. Elias is long, lanky and should initially provide shot-altering and rebounding on the defensive end. The very coachable Elias appears to be a quick learner and the mental toughness he's shown thus far could accelerate his time to significant minutes.

Brandon's strength again is at the guard and wing spots which will allow Vassell to play the up tempo brand of basketball he would like. How far the Bobcats rise in the national rankings and how well they do at the end of the season could be predicated on the development of their bigs in Lawrence, Coleman, Elias and others. Regardless, Brandon will likely again be a Top 10 team all season long.

The 'Cats have a pair of early season games against Lakehead before hosting their own Super 8 tournament in mid-October which features the T-Wolves plus a pair of Manitoba CCAA teams: Red River College and Christian Mennonite University. At Christmas, Brandon will travel to Montreal to participate in the UQAM tournament, a fitting way to Charlery's fifth and final season.

The Bobcats have an alumni site on Facebook which discusses the team and reports that Brandon's Alumni team defeated this season's 'Cats 104-76 earlier this month.

RMC defeats King's College

RMC Palladins began their pre-season with a victory at home this past Thursday night over King's College from Edmonton, breaking open a reasonably tight game with a 12-0 second-quarter run to lead by 20 at halftime en route to an 80-40 victory. Leading scorers for RMC was Simon Dakin (3rd yr) with 24 points and freshman Jon Wilson with 16 points.

Gaels Hammer King's College (Alta.)

Gaels Hammer Eagles

Box Score

Mitch Leger of Kingston, Ont., posted a double-double, 28 points and 10 rebounds, in Queen’s staggering 90–33 defeat of the King’s College Eagles on Saturday night.

The outcome of the game was decided very early on in the game as the Gael’s speed and offensive movement quickly left the Eagles trailing by double digits. This early run was punctuated by a forceful dunk by Timothy Doyle of Belleville, Ont.

The Eagles struggled to adjust to the quick play of the Gaels and had 18 turnovers in the first half alone, further adding to Queen’s 52-18 lead at the end of the first half.

The second half was much of the same, with the Gaels flexing both their offensive and defensive muscle while the Eagles fought to put points up on the board. Baris Ondul, of Istanbul, Turkey, used his high energy play to continue to put the offensive pressure on the Eagles. Gaels’ veteran Ryan Hairsine of St. Mary’s, Ont. contributed 15 points to the victory, with a game high three 3-pointers.

The Men’s Basketball team’s next game is at Bartlett Gymnasium against Concordia University Friday, October 2nd at 8:00 pm.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

7 Footer joins X-Men

Addressing a critical need in the front court, St. FX will have towering 7'2" center Rinne Ngot in the lineup after the Sudanese-born and Calgary-basketball-bred center arrived in Antigonish earlier this month. Ngot, who played high school ball in the Alberta city at St. Mary's and Father Lacombe before beginning a three-program-in-three-year journey in the U.S., returns to Canada at a time when the X-Men have only one other healthy returning big man in 6'8" Alberto Rodriquez. Incumbent starters 6'5" Dwayne Johnson (knee) and 6'6" Terrence Taylor (concussion-like symptoms) are both out indefinitely pending further examination and rehabilitation.

Ngot's journey in the U.S. took him initially to Notre Dame (Ma.) Prep in 2006-07 and then to SUNY Orange, a JUCO in New York State, in '07-'08 where he used up his first of post-secondary eligibility. Ngot then accepted a scholarship at NCAA Division II University of Bridgeport, where fellow Sudanese big man and former NBA shot blocking specialist Manute Bol once played in the 80's. Ngot injured his knee very early in his very first game with Bridgeport last season, which sidelined him for the rest of the year, granting him a medical redshirt season. He arrives at X ready to play immediately with four full seasons of eligbility remaining.

With his length, no doubt Ngot will be an impact player defensively for the get-go and it will be interesting to observe how Coach Steve Konchalski integrates him into the X system, historically predicated on full-court, pressure "d" and transition offense. Konchalski first saw Ngot in high school at the NIKE camp and expects the 7 footer to be able to run the floor well and move into a prominent role almost immediately.

With Ngot joining X, it brings to mind the question of other 7 footers who played in the CIS/CIAU. Two excellent centers in their day were 7'0" Randy Norris, who played at Waterloo in the early 80's (alongside 6'10" former Canadian National team member Steve Atkin, one of the more imposing front lines in CIS/CIAU history) and 7'0" Cord Clemens, who played on several UVic national championship teams in the early/mid 80's. Ngot is the tallest player to play at X in the Konchalski era with only 6'10" former All-Canadian Neil McDonald a comparable impact pure play 5 man.

Ngot and his X teammates begin preparation for their pre-season next Monday, October 5th with a scrimmage against Mount St. Vincent College before travelling to the UNB Eric Garland tournament during the Thanksgiving Day weekend. That tournament will be played at the Galen Center, UNB's hockey facility, which will be equipped with a removable floor and should seat anywhere from 4 to 5,000 for basketball. Good on UNB to bring a big-time facility to their tournament.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ron Rauch of Victoria Times-Colonist on NCAA/CIS Discussion

Clint Hamilton starts to touch on the underlying issue behind this discussion: funding. Reworking all the scholarship rules in the CIS to equal or even exceed NCAA standards will not be impactful until programs have the funding in place to dole out. Historically, most Canadian athletic departments have generally relied almost exclusively on University budgets to fund their programs. More recently, either because of proactive alumni groups within a specific sport or, less frequently, strategic-thinking Athletic Departments, some top schools have delivered, primarily through philanthropy, on noteable fundraising activities to build up endowments and/or scholarship budgets. Still, the large majority of athletic programs in Canada would not be able to implement extensive scholarships even if the rules allowed because the funds are not there. Recently, CIS Executive Director Marg McGregor was quoted describing what sounded like a strategic plan seemingly designed to start to address the need for adding more value to the CIS brand and building significant, new and sustainable partnerships. This would be a tremendous start however to properly implement a widespread scholarship program from which every program at every school can benefit, a cultural discontinuity is required that changes the approach at the leadership levels from one of relying solely on University funding and passive philanthropy to a pro-active market-driven approach that focuses on the needs of partners (alumni, students, business, community) and delivers value to that end. Or else the new rules will sound great in theory but in practice have little to no impact on keeping student/athletes at home in this "competitive marketplace".

CIS/NCAA battle hits fever pitch

When the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the United States opened its doors this summer to Simon Fraser University, the alarm bells went off in Canada.

Since the NCAA’s inception in the 1900s, top-notch Canadian athletes have been lured south of the border because of partial or full scholarships and the prestige surrounding the sports.

But now, it’s a university that is defecting. Simon Fraser will join the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (NCAA Division II) and begin playing some of its games in the United States as early as next year.

“When the NCAA changed its constitution to allow Canadian schools in, that was a key catalyst for the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sports) to look at making some changes,’’ said Clint Hamilton, the director of athletics and recreation at the University of Victoria and president of the CIS. “We have a flexible scholarship in the works and a motion will be put forward for the CIS membership to vote on in June.’’

If the flexible scholarship model is passed, it will give Canadian schools a fighting chance at keeping the best talent at home.

The system would work something like the salary cap in the National Hockey League. Universities could offer a full scholarship to one or two players and use the remainder of their budget to pay partial scholarships for other players.

“We will have to do a better job of increasing the athletic scholarships and that will mean more fundraising,” Hamilton said. “We want to keep our athletes in Canada and if we do, that will raise the level of competition and make our product better.’’

At the University of Victoria, scholarships are given for a percentage of tuition. The total amount, including fees, ranges from $4,000 to $5,000. Academic awards are also available, as are third-party monies. Lynne Beecroft, coach of the UVic women’s field hockey team, gives every player an equal amount.

A full ride at an NCAA school includes tuition, fees, books, housing and food. That amount varies from school to school, but ranges from $15,000 to $30,000.

Beecroft says she feels handcuffed when it comes time to recruit players.

“We just can’t match what the American schools can offer,’’ she said. “In the last five years, more NCAA coaches have been up here scouting our pool of young talent. For the players it is all about the experience and the glory of going and the parents buy into it.’’

With her limited budget, Beecroft used a line from a credit card commercial to recruit players. “Tuition costs $4,000, housing $8,000 and a field hockey stick $250. Playing for the Vikes is priceless.’’

UVic men’s basketball coach Craig Beaucamp says the demands on student athletes are increasing.

“We want them to train year around and that leaves them little time to earn some extra money,’’ he said. “Our goal is to produce players for our national programs.”

The NCAA experience is not for everyone. Many, like Vikes soccer player Kendra Flock, have returned to Canada to complete their eligibility.

“I had an almost full-ride scholarship at the University of Central Florida and I loved playing the soccer,’’ Flock said. “[But] it was a big transition for me and I probably wasn’t ready for it.’’

“NCAA sports is very much a business,’’ Beaucamp said. “After the kids get there, it is not what they expected and the reality sets in. A lot of them come home because they had a limited role with the team. The bottom line is that the players want to play.’’

Three members of the current UVic women’s basketball team — Debbie Yeboah, Ashley Yee and Kayla Dykstra — were approached by NCAA schools coming out of high school but they all decided to stay in Canada.

“If I stay in Canada, I can play for five years and not the four in the NCAA,’’ Yeboah said. “I have heard that the NCAA experience wasn’t that great and after one year, they return home. I was just happy to stay in Canada.”

“There is more pressure on you to play basketball in the NCAA and I wanted to focus on school and then basketball,’’ Dykstra said. “I came from a small school in Calgary and going south would have been a huge jump.’’

Claremont grad Yee said she also wanted to stay close to home.

“I knew that the Vikes had a good program and it suited me,’’ she said.

Dr. David Murphy, director of athletics at Simon Fraser, is excited about the move to the NCAA.

“The founders of our school had the vision of playing sports north and south,’’ Murphy. “Right now we have 14 teams playing NAIA [National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics] sports and six in the CIS. We will be the first foreign school in the NCAA and it will be a unique experience for us. We will be able to get the NCAA athletic experience and a Canadian education.’’

Carolyn Swords Tribute

Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun pays special tribute to Carolyn Sturgess (Swords)

Ottawa sports community loses hoops legend in ‘Gully’
By DON BRENNAN, Sun Media

Fittingly, there will be a “celebration of life” for family and friends of Carolyn Sturgess next Friday at the Sala San Marco Banquet Hall on Preston St.

Fittingly, because all acquaintances who knew the former Carolyn “Gully” Swords will tell you that her far-too-short life was full and successful and is very much worth celebrating.

Carolyn was just 39 when she died in Viking, Alta., Sept. 13 following a three-year battle with cancer. She had lived there for most of the past decade after marrying Kelly Sturgess. The couple had two sons, Matthew, 5, and Mason, 4.

“She was diagnosed in May, 2006 with breast cancer,” Carolyn’s sister Janet said yesterday. “The next month, we found out it was terminal. It was something we had time to process a little bit.”

Now members of the sports community in Ottawa who didn’t realize she was ill must do the same.

The Swords family is well known, especially in local hoops circles. Carolyn’s parents, Marty and Bev, still live in Ottawa, not far from Woodroffe High School, where her dad is a retired teacher and basketball coach.

Brother Shawn, now the basketball coach at Laurentian University, was a member of the Canada’s Olympic team. He also played hockey (for the Cumberland Grads) as did brother Tim, a former Ottawa West Golden Knight who is now the operations manager at Scotiabank Place.

Carolyn and Janet were in Grades 9 and 13, respectively, when they played together on the Woodroffe girls’ basketball team that won OFSSA in 1984.

Two-time CIAU champ

“She excelled in both athletics and academics,” Janet said of her little sister.

Indeed.

Carolyn won two CIAU national championships and two bronze medals in her five years as a point guard at Laurentian. The Lady Vees also won four straight OWIAA championships and an OWIAA silver medal while she was a member from 1989-94.

She was named an OWIAA all-star in 1992-93 and 1993-94, an OWIAA final four all-star in 1990-91 and OWIAA tournament most valuable player in her rookie season of 1989-90.

All the while, she found plenty of time for studying.

Carolyn was a five-time academic all-Canadian while completing her Bachelor of Engineering degree. She was also a Canadian Scholar and a member of the Dean’s Honour List.

She was named a Commonwealth Scholarship winner, which allowed her to complete her Doctor of Philosophy at Leeds University in England.

Internationally, she competed at the 1994 FISU games for Canada and 1997 FISU games for the British national team while completing her doctorate.

Upon her diagnosis, Carolyn became a Champion for Cancer and very active and public in Alberta. In the summer of ’08, she and Janet walked the 60 k in Edmonton’s Weekend to End Breast Cancer. This August she couldn’t walk it, but family members pushed her through the route in a wheelchair.

“Carolyn truly epitomized the Laurentian experience, excelling both athletically and academically,” Laurentian University Athletic Director Peter Hellstrom said in a release. “She was a true leader to her teammates and classmates and is an example for students at Laurentian to follow. She will be sorely missed.”

How did she get the nickname Gully?

“When she was little, she used to make really funny noises with her soother,” said Janet. “My brother and I couldn’t say Carolyn, because we were too young. So we just kind of took that noise she made, ‘gull, gull,’ and called her Gully. It stuck ever since.”

Trust fund set up

The Sturgess Boys’ Trust fund has been set up for Matthew and Mason at the Alberta Treasury Branch. To donate by mail, send a cheque payable to Kelly at Sturgess P.O. Box 98 (5211 50th street) Viking, AB T0B 4N0 — Account # 07979 219 105960201.

You can also can donate to Alberta Cancer Foundation by phone: 1-866-412-4222.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Raptors to hold training camp at Carleton

For the second consecutive season, fans in Eastern Ontario will get a chance to watch the Toronto Raptors up close at Carleton's Ravens Nest. The Raps will go with two-a-days and culminate their Ottawa camp with an intra-squad game. Head Coach Jay Triano enters his first full season as Raptors Head Coach with a revamped lineup that includes 6'10" Hedo Turkuglu, who helped lead the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals last season. The Raps have a distinctive Euro flavor to their roster and expect more emphasis on team defense especially as Jay looks to lead Toronto back into the post-season.


Raps to hoop it up in Ottawa

NBA junkies in the nation's capital will soon have a chance to get an up-close look at the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors have announced they will conduct the first part of their training camp at Carleton University from Sept. 29-Oct. 3 before returning to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto Oct. 4-27.

This will be the second year in a row the team has held training camp in Ottawa.

The Raptors will hold two-a-day practices at the Ravens' Nest. The practice sessions will be closed to the public, but the team will host an open intrasquad game Saturday, Oct. 3 at 1 p.m. at the Ravens' Nest.

Admission to the intrasquad game is $20 per ticket, with the proceeds being donated to a charity selected by Carleton's athletics department. Tickets are available online on a first-come basis at goravens.ca.

The Raptors Basketball Development Department, in conjunction with Carleton's men's and women's basketball teams, will conduct three clinics for players aged 10-14 at the Ravens' Nest Gymnasium — one on Sept. 29 for girls only, another on Sept. 30 for boys only and a co-ed clinic on Oct. 2. The clinics will run from 8-9:30 p.m.

There will be no fee to register for the clinics, but they will require participants to sign a waiver.

Players can register for the clinics online by going to the Carleton athletics website at carleton.ca/athletics and clicking on the Raptors logo.

King's College visits Queen's, RMC this weekend

Kingston, ON is the site of a pair of games involving CIS teams this weekend as a Kingston boy returns home. Mike Koreen reports from the Kingston Whig-Standard.

Home, sweet home

Surprisingly, a tiny university with fewer than 650 students in far-off Edmonton has a men's basketball team with a Kingston flavour.

The connections with these parts will be strengthened this week when the King's University College Eagles touch down here for a three-game exhibition tour.

Kingston-raised coach Daniel Skepple, who cut his coaching teeth at Frontenac Secondary School, has two players on his team who were born at Kingston General Hospital in 1988 -- Anthony Skepple, his son, and Ben Battjes.

The players were born 20 days apart. Battjes was born at KGH while his father was doing his MBA at Queen's University. The family lived in Kingston for a year before heading to Kamloops,B. C.

"When I was (coaching at Concordia University of College of Alberta in Edmonton) in 2004, we also came to Kingston," Daniel Skepple said. "My son, who was in high school at the same, said 'If I ever get to play college basketball, I want to go back to Kingston.'"

That wish will be fulfilled over the next three days. King's, a Christian Reform post-secondary institution that is the smallest school competing in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association, faces the Royal Military College Paladins tonight (8 p. m.), the St. Lawrence Vikings tomorrow (8 p. m.) and the Queen's Golden Gaels on Saturday (8 p. m.).

For Daniel Skepple, the trip offers him a "very special" chance to re-connect with family and friends, but it's also a great teaching opportunity on the basketball court.

"One of the real driving points of coming to Kingston is that you get to face two CIS teams and one CCAA team," said Skepple, whose team heads to Ottawa next week for a couple of more games.

"It's just three days of top-notch competition (in Kingston)."

While Battjes grew up in Kamloops, Anthony Skepple and his three younger siblings all were born in Kingston and the family has deep ties to the city.

Daniel Skepple's family moved to Kingston from the Caribbean island of Antigua when the coach was seven.

A graduate of Frontenac, Daniel was a member of the Canadian Forces Vimy Band in Kingston for 10 years. He went on to coach Frontenac basketball teams from 1987-1999 while Anthony learned the game at Welborne Avenue Public School. Daniel moved his own family to Edmonton in 2000 to take a fundraising job.

Before going, he contacted basketball coaches at the University of Alberta to see if there were any part-team positions available.

At the time, there were no openings, but that school referred Daniel to King's, where he caught on as an assistant before becoming head man in 2002-03. A year later, he headed across town to Concordia before returning to King's as an assistant three years ago.

This year, Daniel is back as head coach and assistant athletic director while the athletic director/head coach takes a leave of absence. He also is an information technology consultant.

Despite its small size, King's wasn't a bottom-feeder last season, going 9-15 for its most wins since 2000.

"We've got nine players back, so we have a more experienced team here," Daniel Skepple said. "Our plan is to be .500 or above and compete (for a playoff spot)."

Veteran Cougars poised to compete for CW Honours

On the verge of making the Canada West Final Four last season after a first-game victory in the Great Plains division championship, Regina Cougars couldn't get over the hump in Brandon against the Bobcats but the group is much stronger for the experience. And experience is something the Cougars roster is filled with, as their top six rotation players are all in their fourth or fifth year. Combine that with the maturation of their younger players, the return of a redshirt and two new American recruits ready to provide more depth than was available last season and it is very reasonable to expect James Hillis' veteran group at a minimum can lock in on one of the eight Canada West playoff positions in the revamped conference.

Regina had four veterans last season who each averaged ~30 or more minutes per game and the go-to guy among them is 6'5" Jamal Williams, the four man, through whom much of the offense runs. Williams is very unselfish and loves to flash his excellent decision-making and passing skills operating in and around the high post. Williams has been enncouraged to look to score more to set up his playmaking skills even further. 6'2" fifth-year guard Paul Schubach came to Regina as a combo guard before running the point almost exclusively in the past two seasons. Schubach can present matchup problems as a big guard and as Coach Hillis describes "we are simply a better team with him on the floor". Expect Schubach to spend more time at the off guard spot with the arrival of 6'0" point guard Darius Mole (Scottsdale, AZ) - more on him later. Schubach is also a tremendous student, holding a 90%+ average in the school of Engineering and has been an Academic All-Canadian in each year of University.

The ability of Schubach and Mole to penetrate and draw help will again allow Cougars' top shooter, 6'0" Jeff Lukomski, to play off the point guard and display his deep shooting range. Lukomski, who has already shot his team into several huge comebacks over his career, is the classic streak shooter who can go 7 for 9 one night and then 1 for 9 the next but, when right, can carry a team with his bombs from downtown.

Previously underrated, Regina got a breakout season in 2008-09 from 6'7" fourth-year forward Kris Heshka, a blue collar, grinding big man who defends opponents bigs, rebounds at both ends and finishes his putbacks. Heshka finally got his props last season after being named a Canada West second-team all-star. As part of his breakout season, Heshka averaged 16.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in conference play and then bumped up the averages in the playoffs to 19.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, providing Cougars with a solid option inside.

Addressing the needs for athleticism and spreading minutes across more players, Hillis was able to attract a pair of rotation-ready recruits, beginning with Mole, a multi-sport athlete at Phoenix (AZ) St. Mary's Catholic where he was part of a 5A-I state championship basketball team in 2007-08 while also quarterbacking the football team and doing the long jump. Mole appears to be ready for big minutes at the point for Regina, complementing Schubach. Adding much-needed depth at the four spot is another American import, 6'6" Danny LeBeck, originally from Colorado, who has spent the past two seasons at U.S. Junior Colleges (Scottsdale CC last season and Casper (Wyoming) CC in 2007-08). Much like incumbent starter Williams, LeBeck, who fought back injuries last season, is known an adept passer and also ready to contribute immediately.

Regina further added to their depth with the news that 6'8" Paul Gareau is back and ready to go after a redshirt year last season. In Gareau, Cougars get back a very versatile defender and complementary scorer. He can guard 3's on the perimeter and also score inside as a "4". He has been the classic sixth man throughout his career and now could be in the picture for a starting role. Also returning is 6'2" Joran McFarlen, a fourth-year swingman who may be Regina's best athlete and one of their strongest defenders. McFarlen has had several very good games in big spots over his career. His ability to look to score with more confidence and be more consistent from game to game will determine his minutes.

Also in the mix off the bench at the guard spot is 6'1" Sterling Nostedt who showed flashes of poise with his decision making as a freshman last season. Nostedt has range from the perimeter and should push for more time as he physically matures. Another big guard 6'4" Neil Olukoya, a third-year transfer from Medicine Hat College where he averaged about 10 ppg, will add athleticism to this group and should push for a rotation spot from Day One. 6'3" Jared Janotta is a wing who is also pushing for a spot on the Cougar football team as a slotback. 6'5" Marek Downarowicz, a fourth-year forward who originally transfered from Camosen College is an energy guy who gets on the offensive glass, is strong and can hit open 3's.

Hillis has certainly addressed one of the team's biggest needs (depth) and the Cougars are much more athletic which allows Hillis to be more flexible with game tempo. Depending upon the opponent and situation, Cougars should be able to both run, press and push the pace or fall into quarter-court sets. This same group, less three or four new faces who should help, was within a game of reaching the Canada West Final Four last season. Expectations are high that Regina will be in position to take that next leap to a Nationals contender this season.

More Simon Fraser News

A couple of things jump out in the following well-done piece by Jim Morris of Canadian Press including the CIS fee structure which according to SFU AD David Murphy is considerably higher than in the NCAA. Further, CIS Executive Director Marg McGregor, commenting on SFU's move, is well quoted below describing the move as a "catalyst for postive change" and talking about an "aggressive plan" designed to "deliver value" to CIS members. The quotes sound promising and it will be interesting to understand the new plan in detail including objectives, areas of focus and how the plan will be implemented, tracked and judged for success. All the right things have been said; now the trick is to deliver. Many look forward to hearing about this plan.

Howard Tsumura also recaps yesterday's official announcement in Burnaby that SFU will be joining NCAA Division II including quotes from Clan men's basketball coach Scott Clark.

SFU joining NCAA gives students unique opportunity, says athletic director
By Jim Morris (CP)

BURNABY, B.C. — Simon Fraser University will begin play in the NCAA Division II in the fall of 2010, one year earlier than originally planned, in a move that will save the school money while offering athletes a unique opportunity, athletic director David Murphy said Tuesday.

"We have the ability to provide a great Canadian education and we can also combine that with an NCAA athletic experience," Murphy told a news conference.

"No one else can do that."

SFU is the first non-U.S. member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The school's varsity teams will become the 10th member of the NCAA's Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

Richard Hannan, the conference's commissioner, said SFU was a logical choice.

The conference has institutions in five states, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

"They are a prestigious, quality institution, academically and athletically, " said Hannan. "Geographically they are a great location for us.

"We needed another member. We need to get to 10, then hopefully we can get to 12."

SFU currently has 19 teams competing in the small-college National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in the U.S. and Canadian Interuniversity Sports.

Murphy said joining the NCAA will save SFU money in travel and membership fees.

It costs about $500 to belong to the NCAA, while CIS fees are "quite a bit more," he said.

"The savings in memberships will be over $40,000."


SFU currently plays in the CIS's Canada West conference, where they sometimes must travel as far as Winipeg for games - a trip of about 1,870 kilometers by air.

Another major difference is the NCAA pays to travel to any championship. In the CIS and NAIA, individual schools pay the travel costs.

Under CIS rules, scholarships can only cover tuition and school fees. An NCAA scholarship covers tuition, room and board, which could give SFU an edge when recruiting athletes.

Originally, SFU had planned to compete in the CIS next season and move on the NCAA in 2011-12.

That plan was changed when Canada West, the CIS conference which SFU is a member, announced the university's athletic programs had been placed on probation for the 2009-10 season. The move doesn't affect sports teams this season, but left in doubt the school's status for next year.

"It certainly made us look at things differently," Murphy said.

Sean Burke, the captain of the SFU basketball team, said playing in the NCAA gives athletes more exposure than the CIS.

"I don't think one league is better than the other," said Burke. "I do think the NCAA is a more prestigious league and there is more opportunity that can come out of it."

Marg McGregor, the CIS's chief executive officer, said SFU's departure isn't a threat to Canadian university sport.

"CIS is disappointed that SFU has decided to join the NCAA, but they have indicated they want to return to their American roots so we wish their student athletes well," McGregor said in an email to The Canadian Press.

"CIS has viewed the NCAA's decision to open their membership to Canadian schools as a catalyst for positive change within CIS. We have approved an aggressive plan to make CIS better and ensure we deliver value to CIS member universities."

McGregor also dismissed fears SFU's NCAA membership could drain top athletes away from other Canadian university programs.

"Competition in the marketplace is a good thing and CIS has a unique offering of a quality Canadian athletic and academic experience," she said. "We will focus our efforts on building on our strengths."

Earlier this year the University of British Columbia, located in Vancouver, decided to wait until at least next year before deciding if it will the NCAA Division II.

David Farrar, UBC's vice-president academic, said there was insufficient information to allow the university to determine NCAA suitability before a June 2009 window for application.

Hannan said he isn't aware of any other Canadian universities interested in joining the GNAC.

"Should any of them be interested, we would react to that as the time comes," he said.

Under NCAA rules, SFU must complete one year of provisional status before being accepted as a full-time member. That means SFU might not be eligible for post-season play until the fall of 2012.

Hannan has asked the NCAA for a waiver to allow SFU to compete for championships next year. If the waiver is not approved, SFU can still be part of the GNAC regular season, then compete for a championship in the NAIA.

Most of SFU's varsity programs have played in the NAIA since the school's inception in 1965.

Athletes attending SFU include CFL greats like Lui Passaglia and Dave Cutler; Olympic gold medallist wrestlers Daniel Igali and Carol Hyunh; and Jay Triano, the university's former basketball head coach who now coaches the NBA Toronto Raptors.

"I went there . . . (because) I wanted to compete against the Americans and still get a scholarship," said Triano.

"I think it's great. It's a step that I think some of the other Canadian universities are going to start to follow."

SFU's main buildings are located in Burnaby, B.C. It also has campuses in Vancouver and Surrey. The university has over 28,000 registered students.

Other schools in the GNAC include the University of Alaska Anchorage; the University of Alaska Fairbanks; Central Washington University; Montana State University Billings; Northwest Nazarene University (Idaho); Saint Martin's University (Wash.); Seattle Pacific University (Wash.); Western Oregon University; and Western Washington University.

Also, Humboldt State University (Calif.) and Dixie State College (Utah) are affiliate members in football.

****************************************************************************

Clan's official entry to NCAA Div. 2 could include post-season play in 2010-11
By Howard Tsumura

BURNABY -- Simon Fraser University's original athletic director took to the podium Wednesday afternoon atop the school's Burnaby Mountain campus and had a message for Clan athletes gathered for one of the most significant announcements in the school's 44-year history.

"You'll not only be representing SFU, and you'll not only be representing B.C.," remarked Lorne Davies, who oversaw every aspect of Clan sports from its birth in 1965. "You will be representing Canada. Your opponents will say 'We're playing the Canadians.' And that is a great honour."

The Clan officially became the first non-U.S. school to join the National Collegiate Athletic Association, gaining membership in the NCAA's Div. 2 Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC), a 10-team loop with members in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. The Clan, beginning in the 2010-11 season, will compete as a full GNAC member in football, basketball, cross-country, indoor and outdoor track and field, volleyball, soccer, softball and golf. Currently the Clan competes as an NAIA school in 14 different sports, but plays its basketball, football and volleyball in Canadian Interuniversity Sport.

While initial indications were that the Clan would not be eligible to compete in either GNAC or NCAA championship playoffs next season, SFU's current athletic director Dr. David Murphy, who met with GNAC commisioner Richard Hannan before a Wednesday's press conference, said that GNAC is set to apply to the NCAA for a waiver that would make the Clan eligible as full members next season. Barring that, Murphy said SFU would apply for membership in the NAIA for one season (2010-11) in its current CIS sports with the hope that it could be post-season eligible by 2011-12.
Clan men's basketball coach Scott Clark felt the move to NCAA Div. 2 would return the Clan back to the unique position it enjoyed prior to joining the CIS in 2000-01, when it competed as the only Canadian school in the NAIA. Clark especially felt the move would help in his recruiting efforts.

"A lot of kids want to play south of the border and a lot of kids want a Canadian education," said Clark. "This affords them the opportunity to get an education at a place where maybe they are planning to make a living or raise a family. But it also gives them the chance to chase an athletic dream south of the border. So it puts us in a unique position."

Murphy reiterated that the main impetus for joining the NCAA was for SFU to fulfill its original mandate of being the Canadian school that played against U.S. competition.

"It has always been about the unique north-south competition," said Murphy. "So when we were making this move, it had nothing to do with the CIS. We had a wonderful experience with them and we think the world of them. But this is the journey that has been destined for us since 1965."
htsumura@theprovince.com

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Yellow Jackets cancel Windsor Trip

Just got a note from Coach Chris Oliver at Windsor with the disappointing news that Georgia Tech, through no fault of the Lancers, has cancelled their trip. No clear reason was provided from the Georgia Tech camp which leads to speculation on why the trip was cancelled and first thought is the possibility that this reflects a sign of times financially. We will dig to find out reasons for this late change in plans.

Tech Basketball cancels trip to Canada

ATLANTA - Georgia Tech's men's basketball team has cancelled its trip to Canada, which was to take place the weekend of Oct. 2-5, due to an NCAA regulation that prohibits such a trip within 30 days of the official start of pre-season practice.
The Yellow Jackets were to depart Oct. 2 for Windsor, Ontario, play two games against the University of Windsor and one against the University of Western Ontario, then return Oct. 6. The trip falls within Tech's fall break from classes.

NCAA regulations allow teams to take an international trip once every four years, but the trip must be occur before the 30-day period leading up to the official start of pre-season practice, which this year is Oct. 16. Tech asked for and received a waiver from the NCAA, but ultimately decided against taking the fall break trip.

Vancouver Sun article on Simon Fraser possibly getting early NCAA entrance

Simon Fraser University expected to gain early entrance into NCAA

The Simon Fraser University athletic department is expected to announce Wednesday its Clan teams will begin playing at least some of their games against schools in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference a year earlier than originally planned.

When the NCAA announced in July it was accepting SFU as the first non-U.S. school in the history of the collegiate sports body, it was stated that the Clan would not gain full membership in the Division-2 GNAC until the 2011-12 season.

But two weeks ago the Clan’s current CIS conference, Canada West, said it was placing SFU on probation and left open the possibility SFU sports would have no place to play in 2010-11. By moving ahead its acceptance into the GNAC, SFU teams will have a home for the season after next.

The GNAC is currently composed of nine NCAA schools spread out over five states, including Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska-Fairbanks.

Veteran Warriors have big plans with senior group

Most great basketball teams with championship aspirations are built with a strong core of talented, experienced upper classmen. As such, with their seven of their top eight rotation players in their fourth or fifth seasons and the eighth ready to push for an OUA West all-star selection, many view the Waterloo Warriors as strong contenders for the OUA West crown. Further, strong, veteran guard play is usually the key to winning games in February and March; the Warriors possess a strong one/two punch of a fourth and a fifth year point guard at arguably the most important position on the floor in a season when many of their opponents in the conference will line up with very good however much younger lead guards.

All this has Warriors boss Tom Kieswetter very optimistic: "We have been developing this group for some time for this season and there is a sense of urgency to do some special things". Indeed, the Warriors knocked on the door of success last season, with quality road victories at Laval, at Windsor, at McMaster and then a road win in the OUA West quarter-finals at Guelph before falling to eventual OUA West champion Western Mustangs after leading the game late in the third quarter. Waterloo plans to make a return trip to the Nationals, a tournament they last participated in at the end of the 2004-05 season in Halifax.

Waterloo's best offensive player is 6'3" Cam McIntyre, entering his third season of eligibilty however his fourth out of high school. A long-range, sometimes-no-conscience gunner from downtown earlier in his career, McIntyre's game has matured with more reasonable shot selection and, especially down the stretch last season, the will to share the ball with more wisdom - it was no coincidence that Waterloo started winning big games on the road as a result. With continued growth, expect McIntyre to be a strong candidate for all-OUA West honours.

In 5'11" fifth-year co-captain David Burnett and 6'0" fourth-year reigning Naismith tournament MVP Luke Kieswetter, the Warriors have a pair of strong, "pass first" points who get their team into their offense and also can lead the break where appropriate. Burnett came into the league as a high-energy lead guard who could make transition opportunities work for the usually-half-court-oriented Warriors however nagging ankle injuries, especially last season, slowed the smooth guard down. A healthy Burnett, who became Waterloo's all-time leader in assists last season, will allow Waterloo to run much more this season. Kieswetter, the coach's nephew, takes very good care of the ball and generally makes solid, veteran decisions. In addition, he is an excellent, physical defender who usually checks opponent's best perimeter player.

Up front, the emergence of 6'9" Matt Hayes has been a CIS big man success story. Hayes barely got a uniform in his first season but has now progressed to the stage where he ranks as one of the better returning shot blockers in the CIS with his athleticsm and wing span. Offensively, his 10 foot face up game must now be respected and he was even drawing the occasional double team in the low blocks toward the end of last season. Expect him to be an integral part of Waterloo's offense as he finishes inside and becomes a more effective passer. 6'7" co-captain Ben Frisby (Vancouver Argyle) will likely start at the four but he is Waterloo's most versatile player, capable of stepping in at any of the 5 positions on the floor - he even ran some point guard last season. A FIBA-type forward with very good perimeter shooting and handling skills, he is the perfect complement for Hayes.

Coach Kieswetter appears to be penciling in 6'5" fifth-year forward Jesse Tipping, who began his career at Brock, as his fifth starter. Tipping suffered through a high ankle sprain injury last season but is healthy and should provide leadership and experience in big games from his days with the Badgers. He should be a strong facilitator from the big wing spot. Another FIBA-type forward, 6'5" Alan Goodhoofd, is a prototypical catch-and-shoot big man who led the Warriors in field goal percentage last season. But Goodhoofd can also get up and down the floor and to the rim with power and aggression as a series of hard dunks in various games last season showed. 6'1" fourth-year guard Jordan Hannah is the best pure shooter on Waterloo, with the ability to consistently knock down bombs from downtown when his feet are set and he gets a good look at the rim. Hannah, who fought a back injury for much of last season limiting his time, continues to evolve his game to develop a mid-range game but his primary value is shooting the ball in transition and off draw-and-kicks.

6'7" sophomore Brendan Smith, a surprise walk-on last season from Kamloops, B.C. and a former member of the B.C. Provincial team, will back up Hayes at the five spot and his value as a shot blocker has already been on display. 6'5" Tim Rossy continues to develop and hopes to push for time in the rotation.

Although the recruiting class bring much future potential, barring injuries, expect 6'3" Wayne Bridge (Toronto Eastern Commerce) and 6'4" Mark Peterson (Kitchener Forest Heights) to likely be the only two to get any significant opportunities this season what with the veteran talent available. Both have solid skills and continue to grow into their bodies. Bridge is currently fighting shin splints as he works his way into the discussion as a 2/3 who has surprised with his ability to make shots while Peterson is another 2/3 who has reasonably strong handles and also is working to get stronger. 6'0" Harrison Mair, a point guard from B.C. and their provincial team, will work to evolve into the point guard discussion as his career develops. Finally, 7'0" Owen Coutts, previously announced as a recruit who came to Waterloo to study in the academically-challenging Systems Design Engineering program, found the academic workload challenging to balance with basketball and decided to focus completely on his degree.

The Warriors have filled their pre-season with challenging matchups including a six-game in nine-day stretch when they host their Naismith tournament (Toronto, Acadia and Manitoba) and then travel out to the west coast to play three more games against top Canada West competition including CIS national finalist UBC T-Birds and Canada West Final Four participants Trinity Western Spartans. Coach Kieswetter always has his group ready to play, especially offensively, early in the season and hopes to be able to find a 10 man rotation to allow Waterloo to play more up tempo. However, even with his first eight alone, expect Waterloo to be at or near the top of the OUA West standings.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Calgary Coach Hired by NBA's Phoenix Suns

Received this note tonight from Dave Love from Calgary who must be thrilled at the prospects of working daily with an NBA guy. He plans to chronicle his experience at his Love of the Game Blog.

Incidentally, I ironically met and hung out for a bit with former Duke star Chip Engelland (mentioned below as Dave's mentor/contact) in California going back about 22 years while visiting Welland's (actually Port Robinson's) own Mike Smrek when he was a member of the Lakers. Chip was a really good guy who could really shoot it with almost picture-perfect form. We watched pickup games at UCLA (not Pawley but the rec gym) every morning involving Chip, Magic Johnson (never fouled anyone and always got fouled), Reggie Miller (he had just graduated from UCLA), Reggie Theus, Charles Rochelin, Trevor Wilson, Smrek and many, many others. One of the highlights was watching ex-Western Mustang Jamie Ziegel and ex-Brock Badger/Acadia Axemen Mike Zareski, still in great shape at the time, call out "we got next" with a couple of other guys - they didn't last very long although Zigs took a lot of shots.

To cap the story off, a couple of other of my best friends who were also on the trip with us, Paul Hopper (ex-Mac Marauder) and Mike "Stick" Voelkner (ex-Mac & Queen's) drove home from California in a van and made a pit stop in Indiana: first in Bloomington and Assembly Hall where they played two-on-two (and allegedly defeated) Damon Bailey and another guy (Stick had great post moves and Hopps could knock shots down all day when he was wide open) and then they drove to French Lick and found Larry Legend at a golf course and Larry had beers with them in the van they drove - we have pictures, which were subsequently used as Christmas cards, to prove it. Not a bad trip playing pickup with Magic and then later having a pint with Larry Bird in your Get-a-way van. But somehow that's how we were able to roll in those days... now back to my 4 kids.


CALGARIAN COACHES HIS WAY TO NBA JOB
Local shooting coach, Dave Love, hired by Phoenix Suns

Calgary, AB - Dave Love has been to hired by the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns to be a shooting coach for power forward Louis Amundson.

The Calgary native was contacted by Phoenix’s General manager Steve Kerr in April of this year to begin work with Amundson. Love was charged with helping the 2nd year Sun improve his shooting mechanics.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for me to work with both Louis and the Phoenix Suns,” Love said. “This will allow me to grow as a coach and I can then help share that experience and knowledge with the many players that I work with across Canada.”

Love is the owner and operator of the Love of the Game Shooting Camps that are based out of Calgary, and he provides camps and clinics across Canada to help young players improve their shooting techniques. He has also been the shooting coach for the men’s team at the University of Calgary for the last four seasons. Prior to that Love worked with the Mount Royal College Cougars for the previous two years. Love learned his craft from current San Antonio Spurs Player Development Coach Chip Engelland.

Amundson averaged 13.7 minutes a game last season with the Suns while contributing 4.2 points per game. Amundson’s free throw percentage for the 2008-09 season was 44.2% which was 32.9% under the league average of 77.13%. Love has been working with Amundson throughout the summer, and the results have been such that Phoenix asked Love to be involved throughout the season. Love will be attending the Suns 2009 Training camp and will also be spending three day stints with Phoenix throughout the regular season.

Throughout the coming months Love will be writing a blog on Amundson’s progress as well as his experiences working with the Suns. The blog will be available at www.theloveofthegame.com.

The Love of the Game camps and clinics are available for all young basketball players. Please visit www.theloveofthegame.com for more details.

Simon Fraser to NCAA through U.S. eyes

This story describes Simon Fraser's move into NCAA Division II from the eyes of a U.S. university, Western Washington University, which will compete with the Clan starting in 2011-12.

Canadian school steps up to NCAA

Simon Fraser University has become the first non-American university to be accepted into the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II ­— a decision that became possible when the NCAA Division II passed the pilot program to allow Canadian universities the option to explore joining the association in January 2008.

The process began a couple years ago when the University of British Columbia initiated joining the NCAA Division II.
The decision on the University of British Columbia's entrance has been put on hold for a while, but is still ongoing, said Richard Hannan, commissioner for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC).

Simon Fraser is currently exploring the opportunity to join the GNAC, a goal that the founders of Simon Fraser had the intention of doing since the school first opened.

Before Simon Fraser can begin play in the GNAC, a two phase process must be complete. Simon Fraser is currently going through their candidacy period for 2010-11.

“Not many changes need to be made from an athletes perspective, but we’re going in and looking at compliance issues and how we will have to do business with GNAC,” said David Murphy, the current athletic director at Simon Fraser.

The following year, 2012, will be the provision year where changes will have to have been made so that by 2012-13, Simon Fraser will be able to be full, active members in the conference.

GNAC is a conference composed of Western, University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Central Washington University, Montana State University Billings, Northwest Nazarene University, Saint Martin’s University, Seattle Pacific University and Western Oregon University.

It competes in 12 different sports, ranging from football, basketball, golf, track and field and more.

If accepted, Simon Fraser would bring the GNAC back up to ten teams. With an even number of teams in the conference, opposed to an odd number, scheduling will be much easier, said Western Sports Information Director Paul Madison.

Simon Fraser's Murphy agrees. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has 14 teams, making independence difficult.
Easier scheduling is a built-in compatibility that Simon Fraser will have with other GNAC members, Murphy said.

Joining the GNAC would also allow the school to compete against schools with which it has already established a competitive rivalry relationship since 1965, including Western.

Murphy, the current athletic director at Simon Fraser, said that the athletic directors from the schools part of GNAC are the ones that got him interested in the move.

He said he was very much taken in with their stories about how great the rivalry was between Simon Fraser, Western, Central, Eastern and the other conference members.

And, since Western is the closest school to Simon Fraser, they would make a fantastic traveling partner for Western, Madison said. Western’s had ties with them that date back to 1966, Madison said.

“They’ll be competitive right from the get-go,” Madison said. “And to be able to have competition with them again at this level is going to be even better.”

Simon Fraser has traditionally had strong track and field, basketball, softball, soccer and golf programs, Madison said.

Simon Fraser first opened its doors Sept. 9, 1965.

Since then, the university has won more than 50 national championships in the NAIA and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).

This past year, women's basketball was the 2009 CIS national champ along with men’s wrestling.

“Better competition makes you better,” said Kelvin “Pee Wee” Halsell, Western track and field head coach. “Simon Fraser has a strong track and field program and we continue to compete against them in team meets.”

Simon Fraser is always invited to Western’s Ralph Vernacchia Invitational and Twilite Alumni meet, two meets during the track and field season.
Western sophomore Megan Zukowski, who is from British Columbia, is a sprinter on the track team.

She said Simon Fraser has a good track and field team and it would be nice to have more competition in the conference and to have more teams involved in the GNAC.

“I can’t see any reason why they won’t be accepted,” Hannan said. “They have potential to be a great member of GNAC competitively and individually. It’s a positive opportunity for all areas.”

Simon Fraser joining the conference would not only bring more competition to Western athletics, but a better opportunity to attract Canadian recruits, said Krystal Robinson, senior forward for Western’s women’s basketball team.

“People like playing in their hometown,” Robinson said. “Simon Fraser joining our conference means that athletes would be able to come to Western for school and still have the chance to play in their hometown.”

Traveling is the only concern with Simon Fraser joining the conference, and it is a low-level concern, students are recommended to have passports Hannan said.

“Only one person has a passport on our team right now, and she’s Canadian,” Robinson said. “It will be something to get used to and will be rough at first, but it should only be tough the first year.”

Traveling will be much easier for Simon Fraser as a member of GNAC, Murphy said. Right now the school travels as far as Eastern Manitoba, which sits halfway across Canada. Flying to Fairbanks and Anchorage will be much easier, Murphy said.

“It will be a logistical problem,” Hannan said. “But our biggest concern is bringing in an institution that will provide us with a great new member that has a quality athletic and academic program.

UVic quick preview from Victoria News

A small piece on the Vikes that is part of a larger story on all UVic sports.

Men's basketball

Goodbye Mitch Gudgeon, so long Tyler Hass. The two forwards were born and bred in Victoria and defined the Vikes for the past half-decade.

Also moving on from the team is starting point guard Brandon Dunlop, who's taking a leave for personal reasons. In his departure there are a handful of guards hoping to step in to the point guard role, one of which is hard-working guard Cyril Indome, the team captain. Indome will have to wrestle the spot from second year Zac Andrus, a 5-foot-10 point guard from Vashon Island (Wash) who played for Whatcom Community College last year.

In the same mix of point guards are Jeff Spoor and Jeff Cullen, both returning with an eye on increased floor time. Oak Bay grad Cullen has toiled patiently for a chance at the next step while Spoor has yet to bring his dominating college game to the CIS level.

Andrus comes to the Vikes with fellow recruits Dan Evans, (Capilano College), Adam Connolly (Shawnigan Lake) and Trevor Scheurmann (Winnipeg).

"All four players bring a different dimension to the roster and should complement each other and our existing core," said Craig Beaucamp, beginning his seventh year as head coach.

Rana set to rebuild Rams

Despite taking over the Head Coaching reigns of the Rams only about 6 weeks ago in mid-August and then fulfilling assistant coaching commitments with Canada's Men's national team in Puerto Rico, hard-working mentor Roy Rana was still able to piece together a strong recruiting class to augment a Rams roster that returns eight players from last season's OUA quarter-finalist squad, a disappointing year which ended with a close home loss to cross-town rival York. However, Ryerson did host a home playoff game for the first time in many seasons and that game attracted a very good crowd with great atmosphere showing that this program can be a player in the CIS. Given his extensive ties in the basketball hotbed of the GTA, Rana provides Ryerson with an excellent opportunity to return to their glory years of the mid-90's when they made one CIAU nationals appearance.

Rana inherits a Rams team, led by 6'7" All-Canadian Moser Trophy candidate Boris Bakovic, who has led the league in scoring the past two seasons. A well-decorated forward who has played in Canada's national team program for several years including the Student team this past summer, Bakovic has taken the majority of the shots in Ryerson's offense during his career and is very difficult to stop from twelve feet and in, getting himself to the foul line almost at will. He also has range beyond the three point line and usually gets on the glass. Bakovic's ability to be a leader on the defensive end and score in volume at key points in games will be a major factor in determining how quickly the Rams move up the standings. Rana comments that Bakovic "has bought into everything we've tried to do from Day One and has been our hardest worker. We are very pleased with his attitude and leadership."

There is other returning talent as well in 6'3" fourth-year combination guard Ryan McNeilly who is maturing into a solid CIS decision-maker as his career develops. The hard-working son of former York Yeomen star Chris McNeilly is a leader-type on and off the floor who will likely spend more time at his natural position at the off guard. Another hidden gem in the backcourt is tough 6'1" Josh Budd (Timmins, ON), an underrated sophomore who understands how to play, gets others involved, shoots it beyond the three point line with consistency, usually making proper decisions and, as a result, is likely to get big minutes at the point. Coach Rana is already touting Budd as a "glue guy and someone who can be a special player in this league as he grows".

6'10" Joey Imbrogno (5th year/Toronto Brebeuf) has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career with several double/doubles, showing solid finishing skills including running the floor on the break however consistency and fitness has been an issue for this high-potential, athletic big man. However, Rana was very quick to point out how pleased he and his staff have been with Imbrogno's work ethic from the beginning and big things are expected in Joey's final year. 6'3" Steve Williams (Toronto Emery), entering his fourth season as an undersized post, should contribute energy off the bench as a scrappy forward who does alot of little things well. 6'6" Chris Blouin (Carleton Place, ON) returns for his third season with his array of perimeter skills while 6'4" Luke Staniscia, an athletic wing is working hard to grab a rotation spot after missing all of last season due to injury.

The ultra-hard-working Rana combed the recruiting trail even with how late he got the job and the result was at least three or four rotation players on the roster beginning with 6'4" Scott Wheler, who played at high school at Toronto Northern and prior to that at now-defunct Bathurst Heights for legendary GTA high school coach Bob Maydo before moving on to play 3 years at Seneca College several years ago. A former OCAA All-Star, Wheler, a slasher, is the ultimate competitor, bringing an edge at both ends to this group and should see major minutes as a complement to Bakovic. Wheler was on campus and immediately became excited about playing upon hearing of Rana's hiring. Another OCAA transfer, 6'0" Ricardo Dunkley (Sheridan College) is an athletic combo guard with a strong body. Originally from Waterloo, Ont., Dunkley loves to get out in transition, guards the ball very aggressively and is another athlete who adds a level of toughness to the roster. Dunkley should also see some time at the point, spelling Budd where necessary.

Returning from a couple of years away from the Rams program is 6'6" Kris Montague, entering his second year of eligibility (freshman with Ryerson in 2006-07) and someone who has a chance to be an elite defender in the league, guarding opponents anywhere from the "2" to the "4". As an Eastern Commerce grad, Montague is very familiar with Rana and his time will increase as his offensive game including perimeter jumper continues to develop.

In 6'2" Will Campbell from Vancouver College (Vancouver, BC), the Rams get a freshman who, when his feet are set and he gets good looks at the rim, can flat out make shots. Campbell's ability to make teams pay for helping off him will determine how much run he gets early in his career but expect him to contribute throughout his career. 6'8" Matthew Lapointe from MM Robinson in Burlington, Ont. should grow into a solid CIS post player as he matures physically and adapts to the speed and competitiveness of the CIS game. Lapointe has decent face up skills and expect him to be a contributor as his career develops. The Rams also got a high IQ guard in 6'2" Dylan Churchill from Ottawa All Saints High School and the Ottawa Guardsmen club system. Churchill can shoot the ball when open, understands how to make decisions and should get time as he develops physically.

Rana did a wonderful job filling out his roster with some experience around Bakovic, McNeilly and Imbrogno and with the quickly-maturing Budd taking the reigns at the point and several great athletes on the wings with explosive finishing ability, expect Ryerson to push the tempo at both ends and look to run out players to at least 9 deep in the rotation. Rana has won whereever he's been so expect the Rams to turn it up in the OUA East, arguably the toughest conference in the CIS at the top.

With the very late start, Rana had a tough time piecing together a pre-season schedule but did manage to get one home game, against Greg Francis' Alberta Golden Bears in a battle of T.O. rookie coaches (Oct. 11th at Kerr Hall). The Rams will also travel to McMaster, Western and Brock for exhibition games in October. Thus far, Ryerson has one game schedule over Christmas, a home game on December 29th against OCAA/CCAA power Sheridan Bruins.

Horwood roast a roaring success

Sounds like it was a fun night out in Edmonton recently to roast/toast Coach Horwood as the University of Alberta's campus newspaper, the Gateway, suggests. The City of Edmonton did it's part, proclaiming it "Don Horwood Day". Among the speakers were arguably the greatest coach in CIAU/CIS history: UVic's Ken Shields and Canadian National team coach Leo Rautins.

Horwood roast a roaring success: A cast of roasters helped raise funds for the Bear basketball program with some laughs

HONOURING DON: Horwood was a mainstay on the sideline for 26 years.

“It’s only once in a lifetime where one gets both the opportunity to honour and pay tribute to such a truly outstanding person — an individual who has risen to the very top of his profession; an epitome of class and a constant professional. [...] It’s only disappointing that tonight is not one of those nights.”

It’s perhaps these words written by Golden Bears coaching alumnus Dr. Gerry Glassford that best sum up the Don Horwood Roast and Toast on Friday night at the University of Alberta’s Main Gym. Colleagues, family, and friends alike came together to both honour and lambaste the recently retired 26-year men’s basketball bench boss on a night filled with anecdotes, kind words, and no shortage of light-hearted jabs all in support of raising funds for the Bears basketball program — one that Horwood led to three national titles.

“Don played at Memorial University, played on the basketball team. As a 5-11 power forward, Don had several strikes against him. He was slow, physically and mentally — when his coach told him to haul ass, he had to make two trips.”
— Dr. Garry Smith, Bears basketball coach from 1976–79

With Global TV’s John Sexsmith serving as roastmaster, the festivities kicked off with Edmonton councillor Bryan Anderson declaring September 18, 2009 as “Don Horwood Day” in the city, followed by Edmonton Oilers’ President Patrick LaForge presenting Horwood with his own honorary copper and blue jersey.

Former Bears basketball assistant coach Murray Scambler — who also retired at the end of the 2008/09 season — had one of the more heartfelt speeches of the evening, providing a retrospective of Horwood life and career, and the years that the two spent working side by side.

“I’m going to make a proclamation: tonight, this is Horwood hardwood. This is somewhere where we can celebrate a man whose [purpose] all his adult life has been to coach basketball,” Scambler said. “And he will join [...] coach [Clare] Drake here and [...] Billy [Moores] — Don will now be an icon here at the University of Alberta in terms of coaching.”

Once the roasting portion of the evening commenced, the proverbial gloves came off, with jokes directed at numerous individuals in attendance. The dais was headlined by notable names like LaForge, Canadian basketball head coach Leo Rautins, Order of Canada recipient Ken Shields, and former Bears basketball coach Dr. Garry Smith, with pre-taped messages from Oilers colour commentator Bob Stauffer and NHL on TSN play-by-play man Gord Miller.

“I’m especially delighted to hear that Ken Shields is there to honour you tonight. And I’m a little bit surprised, though, Don, given the fact that you’ve stabbed him in the back so many times to me over the years — but apparently bygones are now bygones!”
— Gord Miller, NHL on TSN commentator

Many of the popular targets for humour included Don Horwood’s fashion sense and alleged narcissism, Canada basketball’s recent lack of success, and Sexsmith, who was described as “Bryan Hall light.”

“At the University of Victoria, three national championships aren’t that big of a deal. I flew in today with the UVic field hockey team — their coach has 11 national championships. And they’re having a damn night for you here!,” Shields joked. “I mean, this is unbelievable — you go 3-for-26, and they have a night for you!”

“They announced they were going to have a night for you, and the President of the University immediately calls a whole-scale retreat [...] Even [Dean of Phys. Ed. Mike] Mahon is gone; he didn’t even stay for the damn roast!”

Not lost in all of the verbal wisecracking, however, was everyone’s appreciation for a man who leaves his legacy as one of the longest serving head coaches in U of A Athletics history. With the prospect of retirement ahead, and his wife and two sons at his side, it was perhaps Rautins who delivered the most fitting send-off.

“We’re judged by a lot of different things in our lives, but when your family sits next to you — and a beautiful family like you have — that are proud to be here and show their respect, you know you’ve accomplished something even greater than the wins you have on the court.”

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday Musings (one day late)

Wayne Thomas, who does such a fine job keeping Calgary Dinos fans informed about that high-profile program, reports that incumbent point guard Jamie McLeod has been battling a shoulder problem that is likely to keep him out until at least early October. Calgary's returning front line which includes 6'7" Ross Bekkering, 6'6" Robbie Sihota and 6'9" Tyler Fidler ranks among the most talented and experienced in the country. With McLeod getting a solid year under his belt last season, expectations are again high in Calgary with McLeod likely to play a key role in ensuring the bigs get their touches so his health is especially important. Meanwhile, Calgary grad Henry Bekkering has had a slow start to his professional career in Holland as he battles a leg injury which has kept him out of action for some time... For all indications, it is a tough year for finding professional contracts overseas. Carleton grad and Canadian national team member Aaron Doornekamp has secured a deal in Italy with a Division 1 team however ex-teammate Osvaldo Jeanty, originally scheduled to play in Morocco, had that deal fall through at the last moment but is expected to resume his career in Europe, possibly back in Germany where he has had a very successful first two seasons. Other CIS grads who are close to obtaining deals in Europe include ex-Concordia Stinger Damian Buckley and ex-St. FX swingman Garry Gallimore. Carleton Ravens grad Ryan Bell, who was the twelfth man on Canada's national team this past summer but suffered through an injury-plagued FIBA Americas qualifying tournament, has secured a deal in Finland, playing for Canadian coach Gordie Herbert. It has been some time since we heard from our European correspondent Jesse Sazant who did such a fine job of keeping us informed on the CIS alumni in Europe and we hope to re-establish contact with Jesse in the near future... Laurier Golden Hawks, viewed by many as one of the pre-season favorites for the OUA West crown, will not have 6'5" three-point shooting specialist Justin Golob in the lineup this season as he decided not to play... For those GTA fans on the site, mark down October 11th on your calendars as a pair of Toronto's finest: Greg Francis (Alberta) and Roy Rana (Ryerson) make their Toronto CIS head coaching debuts. For Rana, it will be his first home game as head coach of the Rams... Our old friend Jim Thomas continues his work on the Hoop-la web site, click here to check out his latest post, much of which concerns CIS basketball.