Posts Tagged ‘Canada Basketball

Canadian women capture bronze!

- October 2nd, 2011

Major congratulations to the Canadian Senior Women’s national team and head coach Allison McNeill who defeated Cuba 59-46 on Saturday to win a bronze medal at the FIBA Women’s World Championship tournament.

It’s a huge achievement for Canada, particularly with the men’s side struggling at the moment.

The women advance to a last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament next summer.

Well done.

The team rallied after dropping a heartbreaking two-point game to Argentina the night before

“I’m extremely proud of our effort tonight to win the bronze medal,” said head coach Allison McNeill. “After the disappointment of last night’s loss to Argentina, our players showed incredible character and mental toughness to come back and play a great game against Cuba.”

“I thought our defence was outstanding and we got contributions from everyone that played. I’m very proud of our team tonight and so happy for them to get a medal and also for the journey ahead to get ready for the World Olympic Qualifier next summer.”

Canadian women through to Olympic qualifier; Oshawa announces signings

- September 29th, 2011

Canada’s senior women have advanced to the last-chance qualifier for the London Olympics next June.

The team defeated Jamaica 66-49 on Wednesday at the FIBA Americas Championship for Women and will play Argentina in the semi-finals. The winner of the tournament gets an automatic Olympic spot.

“I’m really happy with our team’s performance tonight,” said head coach Allison McNeill. “We talked about dominating the boards and using our depth to tire Jamaica out, and I think we did that. Our goal was to get to the semi-finals and we’re exactly where we want to be. We’re going to play our hearts out in these next games and see where it takes us, but we’re going to give it our best effort.”

The game will be on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Oshawa Power of the National Basketball League of Canada has signed No. 1 overall draft pick Morgan Lewis and former York star Tut Ruach, along with Antwi Atuahene – former Henry Carr standout and Toronto Sun Mr. Basketball who went on to Arizona State – and Paul Blake, of Toronto.

Canada out and Rautins is too

- September 9th, 2011

Thursday was an extremely dark day for basketball in Canada.

The senior men failed to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics thanks to a devastating 91-89 loss to Panama, ranked five spots lower in the standings, but much farther apart talent-wise based on performances during the FIBA Americas tournament (Canada kept games close while Panama made getting blown out by 25 points or more a habit). Panama got a ridiculous performance from Denver Nuggets guard Gary Forbes. Sometimes that happens.

It’s a huge disappointment though. Not sure what else to say about it. While 2016 was the realistic goal, at least making the last-chance qualifier was huge for the program, since I have heard from various sources that Steve Nash was 50/50 to take part and Tristan Thompson and Matt Bonner likely would have been on-board as well.

It was also disappointing to see a man who, despite what his critics have said, has given his all for the program.

Leo Rautins was a dedicated and tireless worker for Canada Basketball. Like everyone he had his faults, but what he had going him constantly seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Being unable to work with Samuel Dalembert hurt the team even if the blame can be shared between both men.  I have been told, however, that the absence of Syracuse star Kris Joseph wasn’t on Rautins.

In a perfect world, the idiotic move to dispatch Jay Triano in 2005 would never have been made and Rautins could have come on board as an assistant coach/backer of the program.

That would have kept Nash, the two-time NBA MVP on board and probably would have been enough to get young kids more interested in playing than they are now.

Canada Basketball has a tough challenge ahead of it. The young players must be convinced to buy into the program (since Canadian pride doesn’t seem to exist in the same way as it does for members of other countries) but they must not be coddled. It’s a fine line. They need to be made to commit to 2-3 years with the program. The program must also be more willing to take outside opinion than it has in recent years. Constructive criticism, while criticism, can be handled much better.

As Rautins said in his exit conference, the FIBA schedule makes things insanely difficult. Players need to sacrifice to play. Their time with family, their bodies, etc. Most, like most people, want to advance themselves and see playing in camps or other events as more beneficial than suiting up.

That needs to change.

Given the talent in the pipeline – Thompson, Khem Birch, Andrew Nicholson, Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk, Kyle Wiltjer, Kris Joseph, Andrew Wiggins, Justin Jackson, Andy Rautins, Jevohn Shepherd, Myck Kabongo, Cory Joseph, Kevin Pangos and more! there is no reason why Canada shouldn’t be not only in the 2016 Olympics, but a top 5 contender.

But they all need to be properly reached out to and they need to play.

Here are some of the words from the post-game press conference:

Leo Rautins:

“Disappointing, we’ve all put a lot into this. These guys have worked their tails off. For some reason, different things catch up with us. Losing a few guys, we’re not good enough at this point to absorb that. A lot of good things have happened unless you’re close to this program you’re not going to see. To continue the things that need to be done, I’ve made a decision that this team needs a new voice in the locker room.

I think it’s time, I’ve gotten a great deal of support from within the organization, I think the players have given me everything I’ve asked. For the benefit of this program going forward, a new voice in the locker room will be the best thing.

I love this program. I didn’t take this job to enhance my reputation, to become an NBA coach, to use this as a launching pad, I took this job because I love the program and I want to see the program succeed. I know what this program can become.”

“I’ve got nothing but support from Wayne or Maurizio. I never felt any pressure, anything in any way from Wayne here.I went to Wayne and said this needs to be done.

In light of new occurrences where program had to spend a lot of time defending me, I didn’t want to put the program in that position anymore. Sometimes you just need a change. There will be a lot of speculation. Most important thing is the players. The young players the future, that’s all that matters to me. Right now this is the best, in my opinion.

We’re playing against the best in the world, we compete with what we have. I think the structure of FIBA has to change. You have players dropping like flies. In what technically is their offseason. It would be wonderful if we could put our best players on the floor. I’m never going to be critical of those who don’t Everybody’s got career, families, injuries that they’ll have to consider before playing.

Having said that, it’s a great opportunity that players should take advantage of.

We have to look as playing for the national team as an honour and something beneficial.

There’s two ways to represent your country, in war and in sports and I think this is a hell of a better way to do it.

I’d love to see all our players take part and I think it’s going to happen.

I had a lot of fun with this group. Nobody cared about who started, how many minutes, these guys just came out and played.

I was part of this program as a youngster where we were amongst the best in the world and that’s where I see this program.

What’s next for me is doing whatever part I can to make that happen. That’s priority for me.”

Jesse Young:

“Definitely not the place where we though we would be today. We fought all tournament and sometimes bounces don’t go your way. Every one of us put everything into it to try to get us in a position to qualify. Everyone’s pretty down right now.”

Wayne Parrish:

“There is a lot of work to be done.

Real focus and target is 2016 that hasn’t changed we’ve been able to build into the program elements and features that have gotten us along that trajectory.

We all hope that we would be positioned to be in the qualifier at least next summer, the fact that we aren’t doesn’t change the success that has been borne.

Need to become one of the teams that others are fearful of.

Leo has been for many many years the heart and soul of this program and I don’t think that is going to change. Know success this program is going to have in the future is going to be tied to what Leo has achieved to date and what he will continue to help achieve in the future.

Program isn’t about one person, but its built on some real key values and principles.

We’ll sort those things in the next few weeks, my focus is so we don’t lose any of that.

Discussions have been over the past hour or couple of hours.

Level of competition at this level, at this event is high. Anyone that has not been here, cannot fathom.

We came up short and we have to change that.”

NBA labour talks to resume on Wednesday; FIBA Americas and EuroBasket set to tip

- August 29th, 2011

Finally some good news for basketball fans. According to a report, the NBA and the NBAPA will meet on Wednesday for only the second time since the start of the lockout.

They haven’t met since Aug. 1 and if no progress is made in the next couple of weeks, training camp and the pre-season will be wiped out.

More good news: the FIBA Americas tournament and the EuroBasket get underway this week. Canada will have a difficult time finishing in the top 2 and earning a berth at the London Olympics, but would be extremely disappointing in not finishing 3-5 and getting an invite to next year’s last-chance tournament.

Barring injuries, there is no reason why Canada should not be able to finish in the top 5.

The EuroBasket should be awesome. There are a number of strong teams, most notably Spain and Lithuania will be at home in front of its frenzied fans.

How will Jonas Valanciunas fare against the likes of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Omer Asik and Enes Kanter? We’ll find out soon.

Sim Bhullar to New Mexico State; Brampton’s Thomas not going to Texas this year; Can vs. Brazil tonight

- August 24th, 2011

Brampton has been producing quality big men of late (most notably Tristan Thompson) and the biggest one of them all, 7-foot-4, 300-plus-pounder Sim Bhullar is heading to New Mexico State.

Bhullar has decommited from Xavier and is not returning to Huntington Prep (the Virginia school that recently landed Bhullar’s friend and CIA Bounce teammate Andrew Wiggins). Instead, Bhullar will head to the NCAA a year early and join New Mexico State and Toronto-born associate head coach Paul Weir.

As first reported by

“According to his sister Avneet, “Xavier is a great program and we are so appreciative of all the time they spent recruiting my brother, however, Sim has some unique clearinghouse issues that have forced us to really examine the best course of action for Sim’s future.  At this time we feel more comfortable going forward with New Mexico State due to their experience with Canadians and eligibility.  We feel that New Mexico State provides Sim the best chance to get on the floor playing college basketball in the quickest time frame possible.”

Bhullar will join Toronto’s Renaldo Dixon, Christian Kabongo and Daniel Mullings and Hamilton’s Tyrone Watson. Montreal’s Hernst Laroche is also still with the program. He graduated early but is taking his masters.

Bhullar won’t be able to play his first season but will still attend classes.

More details here.

- In less positive news, Brampton’s Kevin Thomas will not be heading to the University of Texas this season after all.

Thomas apparently failed to qualify academically and is not enrolled in classes. He will enrol in a junior college this year. Thomas played at the Christian Faith Center Academy in North Carolina this season. A source told the Sun that Thomas was an A student, making the rulling more puzzling.

- I’ll conclude today with a reminder. Don’t forget Canada is playing at the Marchand Cup Wednesday-Friday. Tonight they take on Brazil. Games can be watched here. edit: Apparently Wednesday’s game will not be televised.

They are preparing for next week’s FIBA Americas tourney where the top 2 will qualify for the Olympics and the 3-5 finishers make a last-chance tourney next year.

Canadians take silver at Universiade; Valanciunas, Bargnani looking good; senior men pare roster

- August 22nd, 2011

Big congratulations to Canada’s men’s basketball team for coming away with a silver medal at the Summer universiade in China.

Canada marched all the way to the final before falling to Serbia 68-55, claiming silver for the first time since 1997.

The team blew a 34-42 halftime lead with some poor shooting in the second half but still far exceeded expectations.

Tyson Hinz (Ottawa), a force all week and Nathan Yu of Prince George, B.C., led the way with 14 points.

- Elsewhere, Raptors big men Jonas Valanciunas and Andrea Bargnani continue to play well in exhibition tuneups prior to EuroBasket. Bargnani scored 28 points (5-of-7 from three), his usually poor three rebounds and hit eight of 13 shots in his most recent appearance for Italy.

Valanciunas had just five points and six rebounds for Lithuania in a win against Latvia, but was held to just 15 minutes because of foul issues.  Valanciunas was coming off of a 13 point, 16 rebound performance.

- Canada’s senior men’s team has cut its roster down to 14 players, including NBAers Joel Anthony, Andy Rautins and Cory Joseph. The team will play three games in Brazil Tuesday-Thursday to prepare for the FIBA America’s tournament in Argentina, which starts next week.

Canada comes through twice against Belgium; a bit on Tristan Thompson not playing

- August 14th, 2011

Canada’s senior men’s basketball team continued its strong recent play on Sunday, winning its third of four exhibition games this month, 74-68 over Belgium at Hamilton’s McMaster University.

Kamloops’ Kelly Olynyk, a Gonzaga forward, led Canada with 16 points and seven rebounds. Head coach Leo Rautins had earlier said Olynyk was outstanding in training earlier this summer, before getting hurt in Europe.

Miami Heat centre Joel Anthony was a force defensively with four blocked shots.

Carl English added 11 points, New York Knicks guard Andy Rautins 10 and Levon Kendall chipped in with nine points and eight boards. San Antonio Spurs draft pick Cory Joseph was held to three points as he adapts to the international game.

Canada’s usually efficient three-point shooting was absent (4-18 from three), but a 34-22 edge on the boards was huge, as were 26 points from the line compared to Belgium’s six.

Canada beat Belgium 79-74 at Ryerson on Saturday and split a pair of games with the Czech Republic in that country a few weeks ago and is on the rise after a double-digit losing streak dating back to last year, which was largely the result of the absence or limited performances from most of Canada’s top players due to injury.

Canada will continue its training camp in Toronto until Aug. 20th, before heading to Brazil for exhibition games against Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico at the Tuto Marchand Cup.

Canada will then head to Argentina for the FIBA Americas tournament. A top two finish there would mean a berth at the 2012 London Olympics. Canada is in a group with the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Venezuela and Cuba. Brazil and Argentina in the other group are the favourites but Canada can still advance to a last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament next year with a top five finish.

Wanted to chime in on Tristan Thompson choosing not to play. Andy Rautins certainly seems to have an opinion about it, though he didn’t name Thompson directly.

I still maintain that people should get on Thompson the next time he declines an invite (if he does), not now. He has had an extremely long year and though Canada Basketball believes any insurance risks would have been worked out to get him to play, I can’t fault him for not wanting to risk it before he’s even signed a deal.

Do I think he could have benefited from playing? Absolutely. As good as Thompson is defensively, his offensive game is very much a work in progress. We have seen Joel Anthony and Samuel Dalembert improve their games with more touches and focus offensively with the team in the past and I think Thompson could have helped himself by playing. Plus, as Cory Joseph said, they haven’t played in a while and who knows, with the lockout going on, when the next time Thompson will play competitive basketball. Plus, if he wants to play in the Olympics down the line, his team needs to qualify. With Thompson, no doubt Canada would have a better shot in Argentina. Haven’t checked this, but I believe Thompson would have been the highest-drafted NBA player on any team at that event had he played.

But again, I understand why he didn’t and won’t fault him for it.

This time.

Canadians Wiggins, Bennett, Ennis, etc. do well at camps; Dwight working with the dream and more

- July 29th, 2011

Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, two of Canada’s top basketball prospects both performed well at recent events.

The fine folks at Flagrant Fouls had a nice recap of how they and other Canadians did at the AAU Super Showcase.

Of Wiggins they say:

“Wiggins played 16′s this week for the first time this summer and helped lead a loaded Bounce squad to the Championship on ESPNU.  He’s learning to play harder and harder and as a result is punishing his opponents.  At the 16u age group Andrew should be illegal, as his freakish athleticism, terrific basketball instincts, and length make him a game changer.  The one area where he still needs a lot of growth is in his understanding of helpside defense.  Florida State, Syracuse, Pitt, North Carolina, Kentucky, and way more were posted up at his games this week.”

I still believe that it would have been nice to see Wiggins play for Canada’s U-19 team at the FIBA Worlds this summer since he is a good enough prospect that all the big schools are already after him (meaning he doesn’t need the camp exposure like other Canadians), but what’s done is done.

ESPN also weighed in on Wiggins:

“Wiggins is an extremely talented player for a rising sophomore. He is a tremendous athlete who plays well above the rim and had three monster dunks in the championship game. He is a solid shooter to 17 feet, but needs to improve his range. He has the ability to dominate inside 17 feet, is a good slasher and can rebound. Overall, Wiggins is one of the best rising sophomores in North America.”

They also spoke highly of Brampton’s Tyler Ennis:

“He is an impact combo guard who is wired to score. Ennis is a good slasher who finds a way to get in the lane and put the ball in the basket. He has range on his jumper to 20 feet and he can create off the dribble for himself and others. Ennis has a chance to be one of the better guards in the 2013 class.”

Wiggins, Ennis and Xavier Rathan-Mayes of Scarborough stood out as CIA Bounce (Toronto) beat Garner Roads (North Carolina) 66-55 in the final of the tournament. Wiggins had 28 in the game.

- Crown wrapped up the LeBron James Skills Academy, where Wiggins and Anthony Bennett (Brampton), Canada’s top prospects of any age group (along with Myck Kabongo and Khem Birch) at the moment, did well.

Apparently Wiggins wasn’t as dominant against the older competition as he was playing against those his age, but still showed huge promise and held his own.

Bennett has seen his stock go on a meteoric rise and continues to back it up:

“This has been the summer of Anthony Bennett. No player in North America has seen their stock sky rocket like he has. With momentum flowing, he used the Skills Academy to sustain his new found status. You would have a hard time trying to find a more explosive big man in the whole camp than Bennett. He is a handful for opposing bigs.”

- Elsewhere, Toronto’s Northern Kings AAU team won the U-16 title at the FAB 48 Tournament at Las Vegas. I believe this is the same event Grassroots Canada featuring Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph and Olu Ashaolu won a few years ago. The Northern Kings are largely made up of Oakwood Collegiate and Eastern Commerce players but Martingrove star Connor Gilmore also stood out, along with a few other players.

- Toronto’s Kyle Johnson, who averaged about 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 35% from three over four strong seasons at Long Island University has decided to play internationally for Great Britain. He is playing for their development team and doing quite well, leading the team in scoring most games. Johnson is a former member of the Northern Kings, as is Canadian national team scoring guard Jevohn Sheppard.

- In pro ball news, Dwight Howard is working out with Hakeem Olajuwon for the second summer in a row. That should do wonders for his game. Howard was better offensively than ever this past season, while still dominating defensively.

- Former Butler star Matt Howard has signed with Olympiacos in Greece.

- Canada isn’t the only country with problems getting insurance. Australia was not able to get insurance for star centre Andrew Bogut (no surprise since he has an unfortunate history of constantly being hurt), so Bogut will be an assistant coach instead.

Canadian junior women continue historic run; men do better against France but still lose

- July 27th, 2011

It is hard not to be impressed by what Canada’s junior women’s team is doing in Chile.

The team upset the powerful United States 64-52 to remain undefeated at the FIBA U-19 World Championship for Women on Wednesday.

Canada’s 6-0 start is the best by any Canadian team of any age group or gender ever at a FIBA event.

Again, that’s ever.

It was a landmark victory for the Junior Women’s National Team, which remained undefeated (6-0) and is off to the best start of any Canadian national basketball team in a major tournament.

As QMI Agency colleague Brian Daly points out, the Americans have won the gold seven straight tournaments and 20 of 22 tournaments at all age levels.

With the victory on Wednesday, Canada wrapped up second-round play and is now among the favourites to win its first-ever medal at a junior world tournament on the women’s side.

Unlike on the men’s side, where most top Canadians elect not to play for their country for a variety of reasons such as insurance issues, school commitments and a desire to play in shoe camps to raise their profile, all of Canada’s key women are taking part.

Michelle Plouffe of Edmonton had 24 points and eight rebounds in the win and has been great.

Wumi Agunbiade of Pickering had 15 points and 9 rebounds while Katherine Plouffe added 12.

Canada is in the quarterfinals already, but now will be extremely confident having beaten the U.S.

A number of the Canadian women are excellent NCAA players.

- Meanwhile, a day after losing by 62 points, the Canadian senior men went down fighting – literally, in a rematch against France.

Canada fell 86-69 but trailed by just a point in the third quarter. Head Leo Rautins was ejected after he took exception to a dirty play against his son Andy, Canada’s leading scorer with 18 points and the botched handling of the situation by the referees.

The senior men have now dropped 11 straight games, exhibition or otherwise. They will continue to prep for the FIBA Americas Tournament which begins next month in Argentina with several other European exhibitions.

Report: NBA owners, PA planning to meet in August; Some thoughts on Canada Basketball

- July 27th, 2011

According to the NBA and NBAPA plan to hold their first bargaining sessions since the lockout within the first two weeks of August.

That’s good news, but nobody should realistically expect much to come of it. There will be a lot of posturing and not a lot of progress, based on past history. Talks will probably be more substantive in September.

Meanwhile, the league scrapped its rookie orientation program where rookies learn vital information about adapting to the league.
It was scheduled for Aug. 9-11 and will try to be shoehorned before games – if any are played – start.
- How to sum up Canada’s 62-point loss to France? Two things: Canada doesn’t have enough talent to compete against solid, NBA-laden teams like France if its best players aren’t going to show up.
2: The way Canada parachutes players in and out of the program and barely ever has the whole team together significantly hurts the team. Budget issues are a major reason why this happens, but the fact is, a week or two of training camp isn’t going to cut it against teams that have been playing together for years – some since youth ball.
And if top players don’t even want to commit to a short training camp and a few games, it’s hard to see them signing up for the much-needed longer camps if they ever become a reality.
- Canada is going to look a lot better when Joel Anthony and Carl English join the team, but again, they will be thrown in without a lot of time to blend with the rest of the group. At least both have been involved in the past.
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