Basketball: The Score to air Capital Hoops Classic

The Score is airing the third annual MBNA Capital Hoops Classic between Carleton and Ottawa on Jan. 28. A story should run in the Sun in the next day or two.

Jason Thom, who appears both on camera and works behind the scenes with with Court Surfing, will be on the call for both games with Concordia coach John Dore providing analysis. Cabral "Cabbie" Richards, with his man D, will also be on hand to mix it up with some of the expected crowd of more than 10,000.

The Score Tonight's Tim Micallef, the network's lead announcer for university sports, will be covering the Super Bowl down in Tampa. He noted he was disappointed he couldn't do both.

Thom, as you know, directed and produced the five-part documentary The Re-Birth of Canada Basketball that The Score aired in 2007, right before the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifier. He had some good thoughts about how, among the "hoopheads," there should be more effort to bring together Canadian basketball fans.

In his role at The Score, he'll sometimes even edit highlight packages to give more prominent play to Canadian basketball players: "When I'm doing highlights of a Miami Heat game, I'll put in Joel Anthony getting his first career double-double instead of clips of (superstar) Dwyane Wade. If Devoe Joseph" — the Pickering High School graduate who's a freshman guard for the Minnesota Golden Gophers — "gets eight points,I'll put clips of him in our NCAA highlights since we're the only network that will do that for Canadian basketball fans."

It's great the Carleton and Ottawa women's teams will be on the stage as well. Women's basketball is, relatively speaking as far as women's sports and the CIS are concerned.

Here's some bonus quotes from Micallef, Thom, and Carleton athletic director Jennifer Brenning:

Thom, on the improving Canadian talent pool: "The Carleton-Acadia game was the best CIS basketball game that I’d ever watched. "The level of basketball is coming up, and you're seeing teams also attracting players from south of the border to try to continue their studies and their career. There's a lot of talk, how would Carleton or Ottawa fare if they were in NCAA Division 1?"

"There are more and more good players coming up all the time. The Raptors started in 1995-96, so the players who were eight years old and grew up with a NBA team in Canada are now in the CIS ... The ones in Canada are the ones we should be highlighting, because they're choosing to pursue school and their basketball careers here."

On the need to for more cohesive hoops coverage in Canada — a basketball bloc, so to speak: "Hopefully, people will be start to follow someone like an Aaron Doornekamp (Carleton's reigning CIS player of the year) make his way on to the national team, and then follow him through a professional career overseas ... We will see more Canadian basketball players in the next 5-10 years. Right now teams are looking overseas for their glue guys, why not have a 6-9 Canadian in the role?"

Micallef, on the push to get this game on the air: "When we saw the first attendance number of over 9,500 fans for the Capital Hoops Classic (in January 2007), we really started pushing. We were disappointed that we couldn’t do it last year. Some people will remember that 4-5 of us from The Score showed up, just to take it in."

"This is a great way to promote the CIS product, not only to show Canada that it could be done, but to show Ottawa that it could be fun to be on hand for the national championship ... The last two games of the nationals were just incredible."

On why this game rates a national broadcast: "If you think about what would be done for a NCAA game of this magnitude (No. 1 vs. No. 2), the goal is to try to make it something like that ... the Final 8 is our national championship, we want to do something that shows the nation that people care about it, legitimizes the product."

Brenning, on the exposure the broadcast gives each Ottawa university: "It's so valuable to the institation, in terms of visibility. It brings a lot of pride the campus, faculty, staff and students, see the calibre of play and the quality of basketball. You'll see it in full colour. We'll be decked out in our red. When you're looking around in an economic climate is pretty tough, institutions looking to attract people, this is something that promotes the university very well."

(Cross-posted to Out of Left Field.)
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