It's probably good to make a note of this now that the national team has been named and it doesn't have a CIS player on it, save for Carleton's Aaron Doornekamp as a reserve.

"One thought under consideration is developing a working relationship between Canada Basketball, NBA Canada (the NBA's Canadian marketing arm, which is operated for the league by the Raptors), Canadian Interuniversity Sport and the likes of equipment makers Nike and adidas to replicate the kind of co-ordinated approach to youth basketball development the NBA, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Association of Atlantic Universities and the shoe companies announced for the United States at the men's college Final Four in March.

" 'This is just a basketball guy talking about a concept,' (Raptors GM Bryan)Colangelo said. "It needs to be worked on, our board and the provinces have to be on the same page, but with the combined resources of the organizations we should be able to make it work and work fabulously.' "

"There are still all sorts of hurdles."
-- Michael Grange, June 20

Collaboration is an overused buzzword, but getting everyone working together rather than protecting their little bailiwicks (as so often happens in soccer) is what it will take to restore Canadian to the modicum of roundball glory it enjoyed under Jack Donohue in the '70s and '80s. One aspect of that era that should be appreciated more is that many of the national team players did stay home to play for their regular teams; that might have helped contribute to their success. It's hard to imagine a day when a hotshot recruit would choose a CIS school over NCAA D-1 with an eye toward playing for Canada at the Olympics, but wouldn't it be nice.
Who knows what kind of player Andy Rochon will develop into, but based on his view of Canadian university basketball, one should root for the Chicago-area native who's signed on to play point guard for the Calgary Dinos:

"This was the best offer I thought in terms of competition. They are ranked in the top 10 in Canada next year and have a really solid program."

Could he go talk to some Canadians about having some more respect for our brand of university hoops?

Rochon taking his game to Canada (Libertyville Review)
Samuel Giguère, by his own reckoning, held his own during an Indianapolis Colts mini-camp last week and will be invited back to the main camp.

Some Googlizing turned up a post from Pro Football Weekly where a Colts insider " noted that undrafted rookie WR Sam Giguere out of Canada has been a revelation. Nonetheless, he faces an uphill battle to earn a roster spot."

That's all you want is a chance, right? The Colts open their main training camp on July 24.

(Incidentally in the article linked below,, Giguère lists Ottawa Gee-Gees QB Josh Sacobie as one of the players who's impressed him the most. If only the NFL prospect's words carried some weight with the American coaches and front-office people in the CFL, eh.)

Une expérience indescriptible (; BabelFish translation)
Running back Daryl Stephenson, the 2006 Hec Crighton Trophy winner, is apparently returning to the University of Windsor for a graduate degree.

Stephenson, who was in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' training camp, has an outside shot at several CIS and OUA rushing records.

Lancer Stephenson impresses Blue Bombers coach Berry (Windsor Star)
McGill SID extraordinaire Earl Zukerman has provided a breakdown of CFL players by Canadian alma mater.

It's no surprise that McMaster still comes out on top, given the success Greg Marshall had there before his stint with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

If someone's Ontario public education system math is correct, there are 129 players from CIS schools in the league, including a handful who played at Simon Fraser before it joined the league. If memory serves, that's up slightly from a season ago, which in the short run suggests that it's just a perception that CFL teams are putting more of a premium on Canadians who played NCAA Division 1. They might be; just looking at the raw totals is no proof one way or another.

Calgary, Guelph and Sherbrooke, among others, are the schools you would expect to see make a climb up this list in the seasons to come. Saint Mary's only having four alums in the CFL is a bit of a surprise.



Laurier, Laval, Saskatchewan, Simon Fraser, Western


UBC, Regina, St. Francis Xavier

Concordia, Queen's, Saint Mary's, Windsor

Alberta, Bishop's, Calgary, Guelph, York

Acadia, McGill, Montreal

Sherbrooke, Waterloo
News arrives from down east that Axemen basketball coach Les Berry has resigned.

Leaving on a relatively high note, Berry was in charge for the Carleton Upset of Aught-Eight and coached a last place team to an 18-2 finish and Final 8 success this past season. Well, kind of. He was suspended until the first of January, and further punished, for using an ineligible NCAA transfer in a previous season, so 11 of those 18 wins are technically credited to his then-assistant Stephen Baur. (The irony of the CIS being on the right side of a factual dispute was probably lost on the Acadia staff.)

If Baur, who has assisted Berry at more than one university, knows the reason for the resignation, he's not telling Chad Lucas, which is fine. Acadia's eligibility problems were not confined to basketball, but something seems a little odd about the situation. It would be nice, if ultimately unimportant, to be reassured that the "education sessions" mandated by the CIS were not lost on Berry's assistant, because presumably nobody wants the next coach to be declared "careless in his responsibilities for reviewing player eligibility."

In any event, Baur now starts his "dream job" with an excellent basketball team, albeit under different circumstances than he may have expected.

Berry resigns as coach of Acadia's men's basketball team [Chad Lucas, The Chronicle-Herald]

UPDATE (June 25): Nothing eludes Chad Lucas, who has a follow-up article on Berry's current lack of passion for the game: "I’m a really, really competitive guy and I really want to be in the mix. And I just don’t have that fire right now, for some reason. And I don’t know why."

SECOND UPDATE (June 27): Of course, there's more from Lucas, in a blog post of his missed the first time around because--as far as I can tell--there's no RSS feed. You should read the whole post, as it provides more background to the follow-up article linked above. (Also, proving that there are, like, eleven people in all of Nova Scotia, Lucas has known Baur for a while; they played ball together at age 14.)
Word from the West Coast is that three B.C. universities are vying move up from the college ranks, along with the UNBC Timberwolves:
"UNBC does have competition for CIS membership. Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island University (formerly Malaspina University College) and Kelowna's UBC Okanagan are also shooting for spots in the CIS. Both schools may include basketball on their application forms.'No one is really showing their hand,' McNamara said. 'We won’t really know, I guess, until the applications are in.'

"If UNBC's effort to step into the CIS is not successful this time around, the window of opportunity will close for a long period of time. As it stands right now, the CIS will not accept applications again until 2012, and that would push UNBC's potential first game in Canada West back to 2014."

The more the merrier, I guess. Meantime, since UBC has an apparent aversion to playing against the smaller schools, this might only hasten its push to join the NCAA. Suffice to say, Canada West could look very different in about five years' time.

CIS the official goal (Jason Peters, Prince George Citizen)
It would be remiss to not note that linebacker/special teamer Pierre-Luc Labbe has made the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, making him the first Sherbrooke Vert et Or grad to play professional football. 

Last fall, the smart betting would have been on his teammate, receiver Samuel Giguere, but of course he signed his free-agent deal with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.

A couple other rookie Canadians on the Bombers are Laurier LB Anthony Maggiocomo and Ottawa DB Steven Holness, who each made the team as rookie free agents.

Windsor tailback Daryl Stephenson, who went in Winnipeg's final cut, would rank as the most notable among the players who could come back to school in August, since he's got one season left. Keep your eyes peeled for updates on him in the more accepted media.
It would be nice, just once, to have a rush of cynicism when the CFL cutdowns are posted.

Regina Rams QB Teale Orban became the latest Canadian passer who probably didn't have snowball's chance in May of making a CFL team, getting released by the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

It's been said before and it's been said again -- the CFL needs to get more Canadian in the coaching and front-office ranks and at the skill positions if it's going to ward off the NFL challenge. It's been steadily devolving into a branch-plant league for our branch-plant country.

Other players who were cut and can potentially return to their schools are Queen's RB Mike Giffin and Laurier WR-KR Dante Luciani. There's apparently a strong possibility Luciani will stay on the Edmonton Eskimos practice roster.
It's very unfortunate for such a highly touted performer:
Rookie Dylan Barker, the first overall pick in the 2008 Canadian college draft, left in the first quarter with a suspected broken left leg.

GM Bob O'Billovich said if Barker's left tibia is indeed broken, the rookie would be placed on the nine-game injured list, meaning he would be lost at least until mid- September.
Ticat victory costly affair; Top draft pick Barker may have broken leg (
It would be remiss not to acknowledge the death of Al Mikalachki, a member of Concordia's Sports Hall of Fame and long-time professor in the business school at Western.

Mikalachki was a standout basketball player at Sir George Williams University (one of the schools which was folded into Concordia into the 1970s) and proving basketball is a bit of a lifetime sport, kept playing in pickup leagues alongside students during his years at Western.

Al Mikalachki loved his Habs and basketball (Krista Seggewiss, London Free Press)
It's a damn shame to read at that coach Steve LaLonde is leaving the Mount Allison Mounties, apparently to pursue opportunities in his native United States.

LaLonde, by most accounts, was making some headway at Mount A. Three wins in the past two seasons (including a win over Bishop's in the interlock) is actually a fair leap from 2005, when the cupboard was so bare that the Mounties were outscored 379-23 on the season and got shut out five times in eight games. LaLonde had managed to attract a game-breaking QB and wide receiver, Kelly Hughes and Gary Ross, and his teams played exciting football regardless of the score (they actually scored only seven points less than Vanier Cup champion Manitoba did in the regular season; heck, they scored more points against Saint Mary's than the Bisons did vs. the eastern Huskies in the national championship game, although that's a very glib comparison that should not be taken seriously).

It's perfectly understandable to wonder about a coach who leaves that close to the start of the season, but the facts aren't in yet. (The New Brunswick papers, along with the Halifax Herald, should have more in the next couple days.)

The well-being of the football program at a small school in a community the size of Sackville, N.B., is very dependent on stable coaching (not that it isn't elsewhere, but Ottawa, Western or Saint Mary's faces much shorter odds when it has to find a head football coach). There's legitimate worry about what this might herald for Mount Allison. A guess is that they'd end up with an interim coach for this season. Long-term, the search for a permanent coach is tough, since the ambitious go-getter types who want to be a head coach somewhere-anywhere are often in their 30s and 40s and have to consider their wives' careers and the well-being of young families before they make a move. It's tricky when it's Sackville, N.B., as opposed to Hamilton or Halifax.

The players have apparently been informed by an e-mail, which was posted at the message board:
"On behalf of Jack Drover, Director of Physical Recreation and Athletics, I am writing to inform you that Steve LaLonde, head coach of the Football Mounties, has resigned from his position at Mount Allison. Steve, who is originally from the United States, has decided to return there for personal and professional reasons.

"Steve’s contributions to the Mount Allison Football program have been remarkably positive over the last three seasons and have positioned us for even greater success in the coming season. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours and want to thank him for his accomplishments and hard work on behalf of our Football and overall Athletics programs.

"We will be working to fill this position as soon as possible to prepare for the upcoming season. We have a great team and look forward to seeing you out at Mountie games."
Anyways, if you're interested, keep an eye on the newspaper websites from down East.

LaLonde leaves Mount A (Monty Mosher, Halifax Herald)
The rebuilding Canadian women's basketball team will kind of be off the radar screen, since it didn't qualify for the Beijing Olympics, but we should point out that three CIS veterans are going to next month's camp in Barrie, Ont.:
  • Isabelle Grenier, the former Laval Rouge et Or point guard
  • Sarah Crooks, record-setting U of S Huskies forward
  • Winnipeg guard Uzoma Asagwara
Asagawara played significant minutes during the Pan-Am Games last summer. Two other players headed to the camp with Canadian-school ties are veteran guard Teresa Gabriele, a Simon Fraser alumna, and a young guard, Megan Pinske, who's transferring to Western Washington in the NCAA after sitting out last season at UBC.

Ottawa native Kadie Riverin, who can play either guard spot and just finished a solid NCAA D-1 career with the Rice Owls.

Some effort will have to be made to keep track of who's going where representing Canada over the summer. Don't be shy e-mailing tips.
We're way late (it's summer, for crying out loud) in noting that Henry Bekkering is headed back to the Calgary Dinos after leaving the CFL Stampeders' training camp earlier this week.

It makes sense. The Calgary Herald's football writer, Allan Cameron noted that Bekkering's game and his Dutch passport is going to make him very employable in European pro basketball. He was just scratching the surface in football. In basketball, he's a known quantity who's probably still scratching the surface.

Meantime, since we all love to play with unorthodox ideas (and bear in mind this is tongue-in-cheek, sadly, some people need a disclaimer) ... why wouldn't the football Dinos try to make use of Bekkering's unique talents this fall? Design a six- or 12-play package of pass plays for him to learn and use him as a receiver in red-zone situations -- if nothing else, he'd at least be a good decoy. Put him on the kickoff team and have the kicker pop up a short one in the air and have him go get it -- just like he was skying for a rebound coming off the rim. 

He could probably plant doubts in the opposing defence's mind just by standing on the sideline ... anyways, thank God there are coaches such as Blake Nill who think better of such tomfoolery. It's nice to play around with those ideas, but real life is not so nice.
The landscape of OUA university hockey may have shifted a bit. It was announced today that Ryan Gibb has left the league to sign a pro contract with the Laredo (Texas) Bucks of the Central Hockey League. Gibb, the star goaltender for the Mid-East Division champion Queen's Golden Gaels, led CIS goalies last year with a .929 save percentage and recorded 11 wins for the Gaels. He was the OUA Rookie of the year in 2007, the OUA East MVP last season and the primary reason that the Gaels enjoyed so much success: they won only two games when he wasn't between the pipes. Now, he's jumped to the same league that claimed forward Brady Olsen, Queen's leading scorer, last month.

The Gaels do have some depth: they have another talented goalie with OHL experience in Brady Morrison, who played reasonably well last season. However, despite Morrison's play, the team had a great deal of difficulty winning in front of him. Part of that is probably due to the large amounts of rubber any Queen's goalie is going to see: Gibb averaged almost 38 shots against per game over his 46 career appearances. When you're facing that many shots, very good isn't going to cut it: for the team to win, you have to stand on your head. We'll see if Morrison has the ability to do that.

This is another tough break for the Gaels, as Gibb's the third star athlete with eligibility remaining they've lost to the pros in just the last couple months. First-team All-Canadian running back Mike Giffin was drafted 17th overall by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, while Olsen signed a pro contract with the Rapid City Rush. The absence of both Gibb and Olsen, who were crucial to the team's success last year, may very well change the balance of power in the OUA Mid-East Division. The U of T Varsity Blues almost claimed the division last year, and the title only fell to the Gaels after the Blues lost their last two games. They'll be strong again next year, and RMC and Ryerson weren't that far behind last season. It may be a very difficult task for the Gaels to repeat as division champions without their top scorer and their starting goalie.

More thoughts on this over at Sporting Madness.
The CIS comes in for criticism, much of it justified, but it deserves praise when you read how tough it's been to get women's wrestling accepted as a full-fledged NCAA sport.

No doubt the pioneering female wrestlers in Canada encounted their share of opposition, maybe a little bit of ridicule, but the point it was that way back in the last century. Honestly, as a sports nut, it was like one day wrestling was a single-gender sport, and the next day it wasn't.

And of course, a CIS alumna, Brock grad Tonya Verbeek, won an Olympic silver medal in the Athens in 2004. It should be acknowledged and it should be something we should be proud of, that the decision-makers were open-minded and realized

Here's hoping the NCAA get its. Apparently, it won't even include women's wrestling as an "emerging sport," but it's interested in adding women's volleyball. Gee, why would that be?

Women Want to Wrestle; Small Colleges Oblige (Katie Thomas, The New York Times, May 27)
Henry Bekkering sure is getting some mileage out of his bid to make the CFL's Calgary Stampeders as a monster slotback. The above story in the Calgary Sun joked about the Stamps trying to hang on a nickname on high-leaping Hank -- Calgary quarterback Henry Burris suggested calling him "YouTube."

I'll straight-up admit I don't know how CFL personnel people put together a roster, especially with the import ratio. The other Canadian receivers in the Stamps' camp are veteran Ryan Thelwell, Brett Ralph, who's also a contributor on special teams, and former McGill star Greg Hetherington, who saw limited action as a rookie last season. Hetherington, by process of elimination, might be the one Bekkering's competing with for a job. The Stamps could try to compromise by keeping Bekkering as a practice squadder.

Still, it's a helluva story.
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