Category: Basketball NB

Nationals: Day #4

New day, new month, new attitude for the BNB U17 men.

As bad as we felt following our performance against the Saskatchewan U17 team yesterday, we’re feeling that good today. It’s not because we shot better or did much different from a statistical  point of view, we simply played with more passion and stayed positive throughout the game. The result was a 71-54 victory over a very talented PEI U17 men’s team.

One of the biggest factors in today’s turn around was a great team meeting we had this morning. During the meeting the players openly discussed their opinions of what went wrong the previous day, what they are struggling with on offence and defence, and what they thought could be done different next time they stepped on the court. From a coaches perspective it was very obvious the positive change in several players’ body language throughout the meeting. In fact, we had gone into that meeting considering making changes but left knowing that our guys were back and the right thing to do was stay with what had got us here.

Tomorrow (Thursday Aug 2) we take on Newfoundland at 3:45 pm. Hopefully we continue to manage our emotions like we did today and improve in our offensive execution as we did in the second half in today’s game.

Nationals: Day #3

To say day #3 (Tuesday July 31) was disappointing would be an understatement. As I’ve stated before, we spent a lot of time talking to the team about being the best at the “controlables” and all indications leading into yesterday’s game against Saskatchewan was we were physically, mentally and emotionally ready to play our best. In another words, our plan was solid.

Unfortunately it would appear we left that game plan in the locker room. It would be easy to make excuses but I think the  Mike Tyson’s quote basically sums up what happened yesterday…”Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth“.  Saskatchewan was able to jump out to a early lead and then put together a very strong second quarter which put our guys on their heals, especially on offence. Although we played better defensively in the second half, our lack of team play lead to poor shot selection and costly turnovers preventing us from cutting into the Saskatchewan lead. The game ended 86-71 for Saskatchewan U17.

On Wednesday we take on PEI at 1:30 pm EST. This will be our finals placement game. Obviously today’s game has lots of importance. No one wants to start the tournament 0-2, but we need to prove to ourselves we can play to our full potential on the biggest stage.

Nationals: Day #2

The focus for the second day of Nationals (Mon July 30)  was to “practice” our game day routine which meant a 6:30 am wake up and breakfast by 7:00 am.  Although we had no game to play we needed the boys to follow the same schedule we will be  following when we kick-off the U17 National Championships against Saskatchewan at 9:00 am on Tuesday.

Although the early wake up made for a long day, the results were very encouraging as all the players seem to be managing their down time perfectly. We didn’t have to force them to go to bed, didn’t need to bang on doors for wake-up calls, and didn’t see anyone dragging their butts to meal hall last minute. I think the two week training camp at St. Thomas  and UNB can be thanked for this behaviour as this is really our third week of living in residence and rising early to eat and the team seems to have adjusted perfectly.

Despite not having a game to play on day #2, there were lots of scheduled activities for our team:

  • 10:00 am – Practice
  • 12:45 pm – Player Combine Testing
  • 2:20 pm – Team Pictures
  • 4:30 pm – Head Coaches meet & greet at City Hall
  • 8:30 pm – Coaches meeting

Like every Nation Championship, the day also threw us a little adversity to deal with. When we arrived at the practice facility we quickly realized the gym was double booked. Turns out the schedule we received from Canada Basketball had listed the wrong gym and we were actually practicing off site about a mile away. Once again the team rolled with the punches. We tracked down our bus driver, packed up our gear and headed over to the other facility and still got in a good 60 minutes of practice.

We also received good news last night. All championship games will be recorded with the plan to stream them live. For those interested in watching our games you can find the feeds here…


Nationals: Day #1

2012-07-29 06.55.09Our first day (Sunday July 29) at the 2012 National Championships was a travel day. The day began at 5:15 am when the bus left Quispamsis with Saint John area players and coaches. After stops in Fredericton, Woodstock and Grand Falls we hit the road for Bishops University in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Three movies later and a quick stop for lunch we pulled in Bishops University at 3:30 pm Eastern.

This was my first time visiting Bishops and so far it’s been an excellent first impression. I was expecting a large campus in the “downtown” core but Bishops is the exact opposite. The campus reminds me more of St. Thomas or Mount Allison and has a small town feel our NB athletes would be very familiar with.

The people that greeted us on arrival have been fantastic hosts as well. From Bishops’ varsity men’s head coach Rod Gilpin, to Cindy (the lady with all the answers) at food hall, everyone has been very friendly and more than willing to help us with our requests.

Monday is an off day but a busy one. We practice at 10:00 am followed by a testing combine, team photo session and a tournament meeting for players and coaches. Our focus for the day is to settle into our daily routine and adjust to our new environment. As we’ve told the players…let’s be the best at controlling the controllables.

So far…so good.

Playing at Pace

This post is from an email I sent to colleagues at Basketball New Brunswick following our first CP Atlantic training POD on Sunday October 3, 2010.

We had our first CP session last weekend. To be honest I headed into the session a little unmotivated. As is always the case, we didn’t have some players in the program this year that should be and to top it off a few of the better players we selected were missing due to conflicts with fall sports. However, I came away from Sunday’s sessions with a renewed interested as I think we may have found a winning formula for this program.

First factor was making the sessions more competitive. At the technical meeting in Winnipeg following Nationals, Rich Chambers from BC indicated he creates teams within his CP group and the teams compete in “Leagues”. for example they might have a Fast Break league, shooting league, half-court offense league, etc. During the drills players are not only learning skills and/or concepts but are also competing, trying to earn points for their team at the same time.

The second factor was that Basketball New Brunswick has indicated that their top priority from a elite development perspective was to get players playing at pace. To me this meant our drills, or at least the reps within the drills, needed to be done at a pace they would be facing at a National competition.

On Sunday we still did a few “learning drills” that were slow paced to allow guys to work on mechanics and for coaches to correct flaws, but for the most part we ran drills where the players were racing against the clock, competing against an opponent and there was the pressure of trying to help the team win. The interesting point was that suddenly shooting percentages started to reflect those we are seeing with our provincial teams. This was the case even when there was no defender. For example, we ran a full court shooting drill where each player had to sprint full court, shoot an elbow jumper, sprint again, do another elbow jumper, etc. Each player had to shoot 4 jumpers per rep. Since they were racing against another team at the same time players were forced run full speed. Slowing done to save energy wasn’t an option because they would lose the contest and not get points for their team.

We finished up the day with a full court 3-on-3 scrimmage using an eight second shot clock. Games were three minutes. Players were asked to use the transition concepts presented earlier in the day but other than that were allowed to play however they wanted. As the games progressed the players (with a little encouragement from the coaches) started to pressure the ball a little more trying to kill seconds off the clock while at the same time the offensive players started to realizes two things; the importance of shooting open shots instead of dribbling with no purpose; and getting out quickly so the defense can’t setup.

These changes were subtle and we still saw too much 1-on-1 and players not finishing off makeable shots, but from my perspective the players made strides in the right direction. We are going to continue with the theme of “play at pace” in most of our drills. This might mean a few less reps per player each session (i.e. less teaching drills) but I think the overall results will be better for the players long term.

Our next session is Oct. 17 at KVHS. It will focus on mid-clock, half court concepts (pass-cut-fill, circle movement, attack moves, etc.). I’ll let you know how it goes.

U15 Team Underway

We’re now two weeks into our summer season with the BNB U15 boy’s team and things seem to be progressing as planned with one exception. One of our power forwards, Jake Livingston, came down awkwardly after dunking the ball during a transition drill suffering a broken left wrist and right elbow. The good news is Jake will only miss about three weeks so he’ll have a chance to compete in two exhibition tournaments prior to heading to Winnipeg for the National Championships.

So far the team has had eight practices and has played two exhibition games against a team comprised of current KVHS players and recent alumni. The most difficult part of these games hasn’t been the X’s and O’s, rather its been very difficult getting playing time for everyone. We have a fairly balanced group of players with little drop off from the top to the bottom.

Since we’re treating each of these games as practice sessions we have made a effort to play different line combinations and have mixed up who starts and who comes off the bench. We’ll probably continue to do this throughout all our exhibition tournaments leading up to BNB Summerfest. That should give us a plenty of time to figure out roles for each player.

For those interested you can get more information in the team, including roster info and players stats, on our team web site.

BNB U15 Open Tryouts

We held the open tryouts for the BNB U15 and U15 Development teams this past Sunday at Fredericton High School. Overall it was a very good day from this coach’s perspective as turn out was good and the players seemed to be motivated to show they deserve the honour of representing their province.

The best surprise is the abundance of height we have within this year’s U15 age group. By abundance I mean we actually have some skilled players with good size to pick from which is not always the case when selecting BNB provincial teams. At the U15 Showcase we will have four players 6’5” or bigger and one of them is only in grade eight. This should allow the players in the 6’0” to 6’3” range to play their more natural position of small forward or power forward. A luxury NB teams don’t often get.

In addition having several “bigs” to pick from this year we have some very skilled points guards competing for a spot on the team as well. At the tryouts these players showed they can break people down off the dribble, know how to find the open man and can score. With zone defence being illegal at this year’s U15 National Championships I suspect guard play will be even more important than previous years. Based on my initial assessment of this group of guards, we should be able to play the up tempo/penetrate & pitch style the new rules would dictate.

But as always, it comes back to one thing. Who are the guys that can make jump shots? If we are going to field a team with break-down type guards and forwards that can post up, I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of sagging man-to-man defences. This will put the pressure on our perimeter game and the guys playing the shooting guard and small forward positions. The good thing is, we can teach shooting.

Showcase is May 15-16 at UNB Fredericton. I’m looking forward to seeing these guys compete and seeing who steps up. There are some very tough picks ahead but regardless I think BNB will have a solid U15 boys team representing the province this year.

BNB Summer Teams

As most have probably heard by now, BNB has decided that they will be sending teams to the U15 National Championships. Personally I’m very pleased as I feel this is one of the best development opportunities for players and coaches in this province not to mention being the single biggest incentive for getting players to participate in the program.  On a related note, the coaches for the BNB Summer team should be decided sometime this week.

We have also resumed our CP training sessions. We trained at Crandall University last Sunday and will be at KVHS this Sunday (March 28). We’ll finish up the season with a 3-day training camp in Moncton the weekend of April 9-11. This year Canada Basketball is sending Kirby Schepp, assistant coach of the men’s U17 team that will be participating in the FIBA U17 World Championships this summer.

I had the pleasure of meeting Kirby at the CP Head Coaches meeting this past fall. The players will enjoy meeting him and the coaches, myself included, will benefit from the passion he brings to the court.

BNB U15 Teams Not Attending Nationals Again!

Yesterday BNB issued a press release calling for provincial team coaches. Buried in this release is the notice that our U15 Teams (Girls and Boys) will NOT be attending the National Tournaments again this summer!!

For those who don’t know, I was on the BNB Board for four years serving as Director of Elite Development for a large portion of that time. As a BNB Director I was part of the decision to not send the U15 teams to Nationals last summer. This was a very difficult decision, but one forced on us by significant financial constraints. At the time, BNB issued a press release stating…“It is our intention that this will be just a one year absence from the Under 15 Nationals and we will have stability in our financial circumstances that we will be able to participate next year”.

I can tell you with confidence that BNB has addressed the financial circumstances they found themselves in last year. In fact, the original 2009-2010 budget prepared by staff and presented to the BNB Board of Directors for approval back in November included the provisions to send both U17 and U15 teams to Nationals. Unfortunately that budget was amended by a motion to not send the U15 teams to Nationals prior to acceptance by the BNB Board.

I personally can not begin to understand why this decision was made. Countless hours of hard work and years of dedication from players, parents and coaches have gone into making our provincial team program one of the finest in the country. Our strong showing at last the 2009 Summer Games is a testament to those individuals.

I fear that if we do not offer the experience of competing at a National Tournament as part of our U15 program, that our province’s elite players, and many of our elite coaches, will pursue other activities during the summer months. The results will not only impact the U15 program, but could have long reaching impacts to our U17 program not to mention the level of play within the NBIAA system.

I ask each of you that share my concerns about this decision to contact BNB directly. They can be reached at 506-472-4667 or by emailing them at I also ask you to do so immediately as Canada Basketball’s deadline for provinces to confirm attendance is fast approaching.

CP Atlantic

It may only be a few days removed from the end of the summer season but “next season” is here already. This coming weekend is the kick off for aspiring New Brunswick elite athletes looking to play for BNB or Team Canada in the summer of 2010. The open tryouts for CP Atlantic are being held at UNB this Sunday (Sept. 13). Details are available on the BNB Web site.

For those following the results of team Canada at the FIBA America U16 tournaments you’re well aware that Canada Basketball has qualified for next year’s U17 World Championships. What this means is that at least two athletes (one female and one male) from Atlantic Canada are going to get an opportunity to represent our country at a world championships less than 12 months from now.

For the NB kids that are selected for CP, this represents a 1 in 30 chance. Pretty good odds if you ask me. Definitely much better than kids not in the program. This past summer the two Atlantic reps were Fergus Duke from Halifax and Vanessa Pickard of Riverview.Given the fact that Vanessa was in the main rotation on the ladies team while Fergus saw very little time for the men’s team, it’s not an unreasonable goal to think those two spots could be New Brunswick players.