Men's Basketball: Canada comes up just short ... and some NBL notes

One half of basketball was all that prevented Canada from winning gold at the Universiade men's basketball championship.

Instead, an inspired run from the collection of CIS stars saw Canada take the silver medal, as defending champions Serbia shut down the canucks in the second half on the way to a 68-55 victory.

It's Canada's fourth silver medal in men's basketball and an improvement over their ninth place finish in 2009.

The team, composed of some of the best players across the CIS and coached by UBC's Kevin Hanson, made a run to the final that included a shocking semi-final win over Lithuania and a preliminary round win over the Serbians.

But in the final, the run stopped one half short as Canada simply couldn't put enough points on the board to win the gold.

After Carleton's Tyson Hinz went totally bananas, scoring Canada's first 10 points, the Canadians took a 34-32 halftime lead. But the second half was a different story, as the Serbians doubled down in the paint on Hinz and forced Canada to take outside shots they weren't able to make. The Serbians took a 44-36 lead midway through the third and extended it to 49-40 with a quarter left to go.

Canada looked to revive its sputtering offence at the beginning of the fourth, as Alberta's Jordan Baker and UBC's Nathan Yu got things started with a layup and a three, respectively, to make it 49-45. But it wasn't for nearly five whole minutes that they found the basket again, as Serbia slowly pulled away. A late flurry of scoring from both teams ran up the score, but it was Canada's inability to produce on offence in the second half that did them in.

Despite the loss, it's a significant accomplishment for Canada, coming up just short of its first victory since the (awesomely named) 1983 "Miracle on Wood" in Edmonton. Hinz was an absolute monster for the whole tournament, averaging over 16 points and five rebounds while anchoring Canada's offence. 'Worldwide' Warren Ward also lived up to his nickname, proving to be an effective scorer and showing good signs for Ottawa Gee-Gees fans next season.


In other CIS-related news, a quartet of former CIS players were drafted into the NBL on Sunday night. For those not in the know, the NBL is a new professional league starting this season with a handful of teams in small-ish sized markets. The idea is not only to create a new basketball league for profit, but to develop the game nationally and give players a place to play. Each team has a 2-Canadian player quota, but the hope is that Canadian players stay to play there rather than move on to Europe or quit playing altogether.

The four draftees are as follows:

-Isaac Kuon of Windsor, a do-it-all scoring wing who averaged 21.7 points per game with the Lancers last year. He went 10th overall to the London Lightning and was the first Canadian selected.

-Sherone Edwards of UPEI, who NBA scribe Holly Mackenzie labelled "one of the best CIS athletes I've ever seen." He went 14th overall to the Quebec Kebs.

- Blain LaBranche of UBC, who played on the 2008-09 CIS silver medal-winning Thunderbirds team, and was picked 15th overall by the to-be-named Oshawa team.

- Nic Lother, a speedy guard from Winnipeg who joins Kuon in London.

Teams can now invite players to their training camps. As the Star's Doug Smith noted, it's interesting to think that there are no guaranteed contracts in this league, so Kuon, Edwards, LaBranche and Lother basically have one shot to make it, while undrafted players have options with every team in the league.

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1 comment:

  1. What was significant about the silver medal FISU team was the fact it was comprised entirely of CIS players.
    I believe this was the first time that no NCAA players were included.
    The 2009 team had only one NCAA player and finished 9th, out of the quarter finals.
    The bronze medal team from 2007 had seven NCAA players and only five CIS players.
    I don't know what conclusions can be drawn from this but
    it seems this bodes well for CIS men's basketball in the future.