Observations from Canada Games

It’s been a great week of hoops. I’ve been helping with the Sr. Mini camp at UNBSJ, the 9th annual Armand Drummond was last weekend, attendance was up again at my weekly open gyms and on Wednesday afternoon I drove over to PEI  to watch the NB Summer Games teams compete.

Despite the late night drive home from Summerside, I really enjoyed the experience on Wednesday. For the cost of a $20 day pass, I was able to come and go as many times as I wanted between the two basketball venues and if I wanted to, I could have used the same pass to watch beach volleyball, soccer and rugby which were held on the same site. Plus the parking was free.

The first game was the NB men versus Ontario. The main reason I wanted to see this game was to watch the five Ontario players who competed for Canada’s U16 Cadet team earlier this summer in Argentina. I was especially curious to see how much better (if at all) they were than our top U16 player, Adam Spurrell.

For those who don’t know, each regional Centre for Performance was represented on the National U16 Cadet Team. The male player selected from Atlantic Canada was Fergus Duke of Halifax. A number of other players from the national depth chart were invited to tryout for the remaining spots.To my surprise, Adam was not selected as one of these “at large” players either.

The Ontario players from the Cadet team are Kevin Pangos (6’0” Guard), Anthony Bennett (6’5” Forward), Negus Webster-Chan (6’6” Forward), Nicholas Lewis (6’1” Guard) and Jonathan Alexander-Guillaume (6’5” Forward).

My first impressions watching the game was that Kevin Pangos was the one player who was clearly better than anyone from NB. His court presence and passing abilities were definitely superior. In fact, when Pangos left the floor, the NB team was able to get more stops on defence and slowly close the gap. Anthony Bennett was fun to watch as well, but more because of his size and athletic ability more so than his skills. Bennett only scored three baskets against NB but they were all dunks. All his dunks were setup by Pangos either off pick-and-roll or off dribble penetration.

The remaining Ontario players are very good but for the most part not that much different than the NB players. The major difference was they’re size and their ability to make shots. We have no control how tall our players will be, but we definitely can improve our shooting.

NB Men’s team  lost to BC by two while shooting only 23% (21 for 90 overall) which was the difference between playing Ontario versus Manitoba in the crossovers. When they ended up playing MB in the 5th place game they lost by four while shooting 21% (17 for 80 overall).

The story on the girls game was much the same. The game I saw on Wednesday was their round-robin game against Saskatchewan. In this game the NB girls were outsized, loosing the rebound battle 26-45, but they made up for it with extremely aggressive full court defence, great spacing on offense, and timely shot making in the 4th quarter. But looking at the two looses for the girls the same thing jumps off the page. They shot 26% against BC (Silver Medalist) and 25% against Alberta (Gold Medalist).

I’m sure there are a lot of factors why the shooting was off in these games and we must give the other teams some credit for playing good defence, but I’m sure every player on the two NB squads are coming away from the experience ready to re-dedicate themselves to becoming better shooters.