Canada’s FISU 12-man initial roster officially announced

Canada’s men’s basketball entry at the 29th FISU Summer Universiade in Taiwan is gaining some further clarity as an initial 12-man roster was officially announced by U Sports earlier today, led by five U Sports All-Canadians from this past season including Moser Award winner 6’4″ Connor Wood from Carleton.  Head Coach Kevin Hanson also will have the services of his UBC 1st Team All-Canadian 6’9″ Conor Morgan plus 6’2″ Kaza Kajami-Keane (Carleton), 6’7″ Kevin Bercy (St. FX) and 6’1″ UNB guard Javon Masters.  Former All-Canadian 6’6″ Jordan Jensen-Whyte, just graduated from UBC, was also named and provides a stellar, athletic wing who can defend and get to the rim in transition.

Other notable wings on this roster include 6’4″ Justus Alleyne (Manitoba), another great defender, and bolstering the front line will be 6’9″ Jean Pierre-Charles (uOttawa) and 6’10” Erik Nissen from Acadia.  Former RSEQ Player-of-the-Year Alexandre Leclerc, who suffered through an injury plagued season with an ankle injury, looks to regain his All-Canadian form as wing/big guard while a pair of Calgary Dinos:  6’5″ Mambi Diawara and 5’11” David Kapinga bring their big-game experience from back-to-back appearances at the U-Sports Final 8.

Noted absences from the roster include uOttawa’s Defensive Player-of-the-Year and 2nd Team All-Canadian Caleb Agada, unavailable because the graduated star is likely to be with a pro team by the time the tournament begins in August, Ryerson’s 1st Team All-Canadian Adika Peter-McNeilly, likely to be part of other Canadian national team activities and RSEQ Player-of-the-Year 6’2″ Dele Ogundokun (McGill), who has committed to a summer internship associated with his degree in Economics.  UPEI’s dynamic past All-Canadian Tyler Scott was also among those strongly considered for this roster but unfortunately finances played a roll in his inability to participate.  Another somewhat obvious omission is Ryerson’s All-Canadian candidate 6’4″ Ammanuel Diressa.

At first glance, the roster looks to be strong up front with Morgan, Pierre-Charles and Nissen with Bercy as a very good four man.  Guard play is always key and with Wood, Kajami-Keane, Masters and Kapinga, there is a combination of athleticism, transition talent and perimeter shooting, although it does appear that the roster may not be as deep with shooters as is usually required for success in international play.

While this is the present 12-man roster, Hanson expects to have some reserves ready and/or on hand, especially given that the graduated players, including Wood, Kajami-Keane and Jensen-Whyte could end up with European contracts and thus have late-August obligations that could preclude their participation.  The possible departures to Europe of the graduated players, especially if Wood and Kajami-Keane are not available, would further impair Canada’s perimeter shooting and put added pressure on the staff to find more perimeter shooting.

Given the timing of the event, there could still be more roster churn – in the end, Canada may not know exactly who is on the roster until the doors close on the airplane for the flight to Taiwan.  For Hanson and staff, who have taken time out of their summers – for the UBC coach he will miss his team’s trip to Costa Rica – the potential roster churn, financial situation and short training camp all add up to another example of the challenges of coaching in Canada.  Despite that, expect another strong performance from our boys.


Virtual roster reset has Capers optimism high

After hitting rock bottom last season amid a winless AUS campaign and an 0-27 slate against U-Sports competition overall, Cape Breton Capers second-year Head Coach Dave Petroziello has taken major steps, implementing a dramatic transformation with his first real recruiting class – Petroziello only took over the Capers program less than one calendar year ago in early July, 2016.  The striking roster shakeup – CBU has already announced 8 new recruits – at least 7 of which could be top-end rotation players – has some observers guardedly optimistic that CBU can compete quickly in what will be a relatively young and somewhat-wide open AUS men’s basketball field in 2017-18.

The influx begins in the back court where Petroziello believes all four of his new incoming guards are potential starters, highlighted by 6’4″ Ozzy Omar, who originally started his high school career with Mississauga Loyola before spending a couple of seasons at Options for Youth Prep Academy where he averaged 18.3 points and 7.0 assists per game in 2013-14.  Omar then signed with University of Virgin Islands, a college program from the Latin American League but did not play.  The 22 year old big guard is expected to be given ample opportunity to run the point and has a scorer’s mentality and talent.  True freshman 5’11” Levi Smith III (Auburn Drive H.S., North Preston, N.S.) should also press for time at the lead guard spot as a steady facilitator.

6’1″ Indiana Rotondo is another likely starter as a wing/guard, operating as a slasher and knock-down shooter.  Originally from Saint Elizabeth H.S. in Vaughan, ON, Rotondo spent one season at Mars Hill, an NCAA D2 school in Asheville, NC where he started 11 games.  Expect Rotondo and 6’2″ George Brown College transfer Kevon Mascoe to share time on the win with Mascoe (4th year of eligibility) bringing the experience of the competitive OCAA wars to the Capers.

Petroziello is probably most excited about his pair of wing forwards, beginning with 6’4″ U.S. import Martin Campbell, a native of Upper Marlboro, MD, who will enter his 4th season of eligibility after transferring from University of the District of Columbia, an NCAA D2 school where is averaged 23 minutes per game as junior in 2015-16.  Campbell, who also played at Danville C.C., is expected to be a key decision maker both on the perimeter and in the post as the match-ups dictate.  6’6″ Paul Watson, a Prep teammate of fellow CBU newcomer Ozzy Omar, is another point-forward type who can stretch the floor from the four spot.  Watson, a Toronto native, also spent time at University of Virgin Islands and will be in his second season of eligibility.

Size was an issue for Cape Breton last season and the arrival of 6’7″ lefty Aaron Barlow is designed to address the paint area for the Capers.  The Midland, PA native is a true, back-to-the-basket, physical post presence who averaged 20.9 points and 12.9 rebounds per game while shooting 56% from the floor at Beaver County (PA.) Junior College as a sophomore last season.  The stocky Barlow was one of the better post players in the junior college ranks last season and projects as an instant starter for the Capers.  6’10” Keane Merke (Saskatoon, Sask) will provide depth as he evolves his game from Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, where he played in the Canadian Prep league.

Petroziello has plans for bringing in 2 or 3 more newcomers to add to returning faces which include 6’3″ Aaron Hayles (4th), 6’7″ Kyle Hankins (5th) and 6’6″ Shacier Locke (4th).

“We feel that we have really upped the talent level with this class”, noted Petroziello.  “With this our first true recruiting class, the program has taken a giant leap forward both in terms of talent and culture and we expect major improvements”.

Glenn inks his first key Panthers recruit

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New UPEI Head Coach Darrell Glenn has hit the ground running on the recruiting trail as he transitions toward his first season with the Panthers, earlier today accepting a letter of intent from impact 6’1″ guard Moshe Wadley, ranked #82 by North Pole Hoops in the Class of 2016.  Wadley, who began his high school career at Emery C.I. under legendary mentor Bob Maydo, played his final two seasons at a pair of U.S. prep schools:  ’15-’16 at First Love Christian Academy in Washington, PA and last season at SOE (Standard of Excellence) Academy in Charlotte, NC.  Wadley also played AAU/Club basketball with Canada Elite.

Pictured sitting above, Panthers first recruit under Glenn is flanked by his Carlos and Glenn’s lead Assistant Coach Rami Arabi, who also worked for Glenn for the past two seasons at Seneca with the Sting and coached Wadley as part of Canada Elite.

Wadley has the makings of a solid AUS combo guard with an explosive first step and the strength to get his shot off in traffic when attacking the rim.  Glenn, who is completing his teaching obligations in North York by end of month and in the process of moving his family to Charlottetown, is likely to make further recruiting announcements in the coming weeks.

Glenn also advised that Seneca College transfer Yusuf Ali, originally set to join his former coach in Charlottetown, will now remain with the Sting to finish off his diploma and will not be with UPEI next season.

U-Sports-laden FISU team optimistic despite challenging finances

Unlike prior FISU games representative teams, Canada’s 2017 edition – to be made up exclusively of U-Sports athletes with UBC’s Kevin Hanson as Head Coach – is making plans for this prestigious tournament, to be held in Taipei, Taiwan in mid-August, without financial support from Canada Basketball, the governing body for basketball in Canada.  The lack of funding and timing of this edition of the tournament (August instead of usual July) are making preparations that much more complex for Hanson and staff which include Calgary Dinos Head Coach Dan Vanhooren and Laval skipper Jacques Paiement Jr.

A seven-person committee originally identified a list of invites made up of U-Sports players and response to the invites was, in a word, tepid.  While some players had prior team commitments for travel to Costa Rica and Virgin Islands and/or NCAA games, many fortunately passed on this wonderful opportunity due to the lack of direct funding:  to wit, players will have to raise about $5,000 CDN each to cover the costs of flights, accommodations, meals, incidentals and, very likely, even uniforms and water bottles.

The men’s basketball event at the 29th Summer Universiade in Taiwan is made up of 24 teams and is regarded as one of the top events on the international summer calendar, with numerous professional scouts in attendance.  Hanson noted that UBC alumnus Nathan Yu, who played for Canada the last time Hanson coached in 2011 – when Canada took a silver medal in the event – was offered a professional contract in Europe directly as a result of his play at the FISU games.

Canada’s tentative, 12-man roster, to be officially unveiled by U-Sports this coming Friday, will have partial financial support from their representative schools however at present there is no budget for obvious requirements such as uniforms, water bottles, gear, let alone resources for a proper training camp and exhibition games.

Canada will have a short training camp prior to leaving for Taiwan after Hanson was able to work out a deal with Purdue Boilermakers, who will represent the United States at this event.  Hanson will take his crew to Chicago on August 5th where Purdue-provided buses will pick the team up en route to West Lafayette, Indiana (about 3 hours from Chicago) for a 7 day training camp including official games against the Boilermakers/USA FISU team on August 11th and 12th.  Purdue is providing Canada with hotels, food, transportation and floor time for practices during their stay.  Canada will arrive in Taiwan in time to play their first of five Pool B round robin games beginning Sunday, August 20th against Norway (remainder of schedule listed below).

FISU games provides U-Sports student/athletes with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent their country at a major international event; as Hanson puts it “you can’t put a price tag on the experience of playing for your country”.  We hope with this note that some form of financial support can be provided to Kevin and program as they prepare to represent Canada.

Canada’s 2017 FISU Games Schedule

Sunday, August 20th  vs. Norway

Monday, August 21st vs. Finland

Tuesday, August 22nd vs. Hong Kong

Thursday, August 24th vs. Japan

Friday, August 25th vs. Germany.

Top two teams in each of the 4 pools advance to the sudden death quarter-finals.

Canada is in the same pool as Germany, the 2015 Silver medalists at this event.  As noted, Hanson led a CIS-laden group to a silver medal in 2011 in Shenzhen, China.

The initial 12 man roster will be announced this coming Friday.


U-Sports well represented at 39th Jones Cup in Taiwan

A busy summer for U-Sports men’s basketball that includes numerous NCAA games and the 24th FISU Summer Universiade in late August, kicks off on 14th July with the William Jones Cup in Taipai, Taiwan.  The tournament, officially sanctioned FIBA Asia Cup tournament, will be covered by Eurobasket with stats and profiles available for each nation.

Canada’s entry, coached by former Guelph Gryphon All-Canadian Kyle Julius, is officially entered as 3D Global Sports Canada 150 and includes the following U Sports stars both past and present:

  • 6’4″ Connor Wood, Carleton
  • 6’9″ Conor Morgan, UBC
  • 6’5″ Joel Friesen, Alberta
  • 6’2″ Joey Haywood, Saint Mary’s.

The 39th William Jones Cup, named in honor of one of the founders of FIBA, is a high profile event that will air on major television and broadcast platforms across Asia, Oceania and the Middle-East. The tournament will be played in the 10,000 seat arena which was solely built for the launch of the tournament.

Later in the summer, this same arena will play host to the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments at the 29th FISU Summer Universiade, in which Canada will participate, led by UBC Head Coach Kevin Hanson.  Expect the release of the projected roster this coming Friday officially from U Sports.

The participating teams for the 39th William Jones Cup are as follows:

  • National Team of Iran
  • National Team of Iraq
  • National Team of Philippines
  • National Team of South Korea
  • National Team of Japan
  • National Team of Chinese Taipei A
  • National Team of Chinese Taipei B
  • National team of India
  • 3D Canada Global Sports
  • Atletas All-Star Lithuania Team.

Stay tuned for specific schedule and details on how to follow the games.

Gee-Gees basketball family suffers through another tragic loss

uOttawa Gee-Gees program and the entire U-Sport basketball family is mourning the tragic passing of former Gee-Gees player Jeff Plunkett, who died last week in a motorcycle accident in just outside his native Barrie.

Plunkett, described by many close to the uOttawa program as a larger-than-life character who was a de-facto leader on and off the court during his time as a player for the Gee-Gees, marks the third recent passing of high-profile members of the uOttawa basketball program after Andrew Gayle and John Plaskacz.

The Plunkett family has had to deal with terrible tragedy in the past as the patriarch of the family, Police Constable Robert Plunkett was killed in the line of duty in 2007.

Our sympathetic thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Plunkett family including mother Sonja, Jeff’s younger brother Matt Plunkett who just graduated from the Gee-Gees this past season and long-time basketball community member Pat Dooley, Matt and Jeff’s step-father.

Philippe named York Lions Head Coach

Arguably one of the worst kept secrets in U-Sports men’s basketball became official today as York Lions named Nate Philippe as their new Head Coach, replacing Tom Oliveri.  Philippe leaves UQAM Citadins after two seasons during which his program advanced to the RSEQ championship game in both seasons.  Citadins have also announced that Philippe’s assistant Mario Joseph, a Montreal native and ex-Citadins player under Olga Hrycak will take over for the entire 2017-18 season on an interim basis.  Joseph started his then-CIS career at Brandon under Barnaby Craddock.

Philippe returns to York for a second go-round, having been an Assistant Coach for legendary Bob Bain in 2009-10.  Although Philippe’s Canadian basketball experience as a player and coach spans Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the Capital Region, he also has meaningful ties to the GTA, having coached at Scarborough West Hill C.I., taking his team to OFSAA “AAA” quarter-finals in 2008-09 and with Grassroots Canada AAU in the same time frame.

After his stint on the York staff, Philippe spent five seasons as an Assistant in NCAA Division 1 beginning at North Dakota where he was part of a Great West conference championship team in 2010-11.  Later, Philippe spent two seasons on the staff of Maine Black Bears followed by two seasons at American U. culminating in a Patriot League championship in 2013-14.

U-Sports fans know that Philippe led UQAM to a pair of playoff spots and appearances in the RSEQ championship game in ’15-’16 and ’16-’17.  Philippe will hit the ground running looking to put together a new coaching staff and assemble returning pieces to the York lineup that missed the playoffs last season but has at least two transfers coming in plus some returning players making up a decent core in preparation for battling in the difficult OUA East conference.

Philippe is thrilled with the challenge of returning York to prior glory years and expressed his gratitude to the York administration for “giving me the time and confidence in me to turn the program around”.  Philippe aims to instill his “staples” which include “defense, rebounding and unselfish play” and added that his immediate goals include “building culture, a strong foundation and recruiting”.  As of now, Lions are not scheduled to play any summer games vs. NCAA.

Canisius & Northeastern add to NCAA/U-Sports summer schedule

Two more programs have confirmed their schedule for August visits to Eastern Ontario and Montreal as Canisius Golden Griffins and Northeastern Huskies will each play a series of games in Canada (see details below).  Golden Griffins have a decided Canadian skew to their roster and coaching staff as at least 3 Golden Griffins are originally from Canada including 6’8″ sophomore Dantai St. Louis (Brampton, ON), 6’11” Selvedin Planincic (rising senior/Sherbrooke, Quebec) and 6’8″ freshman Scott Hitchon (Whitby, ON/Thornlea S.S.) who is likely to make his Canisius debut during their tour.  Canisius Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon previously visited Canada while Head Coach of uBuffalo Bulls some years ago and has added former Orangeville Prep Head Coach Larry Blunt to his coaching staff – Blunt helped the Griffs bring in St. Louis and Planincic who played for Blunt at Orangeville.  Canisius finished 18-16 in the MAAC this past season, losing in the conference tournament quarter-final in Albany before accepting an invitation to the CIT where they lost to Samford by 4 in the first round… Head Coach Bill Coen brings his Northeastern Huskies to Canada for the second time in his tenure in Boston with one Canadian on the roster, 6’5″ rising sophomore Maxime Boursiquot who starred at Ottawa Immaculata H.S. before spending one season at Kent Prep.  Boursiquot played in all 32 games as a freshman, averaging 5.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.  Huskies, who knocked off Connecticut in an early season game in 2016, finished last season 15-16 including 8-10 in the Colonial Athletic Association, losing in the first round of the CAA tournament to #3 Towson by 28.  Here are their schedules:


Saturday, August 19th:  at Queen’s (Kingston, ON)

Sunday, August 20th:  at Concordia (Montreal, PQ)

Monday, August 21st:  at Bishop’s (Lennoxville, PQ)

Tuesday, August 22nd:  at uOttawa (Montpetit Hall, Ottawa, ON)

Wednesday, August 23rd:  at Carleton (Raven’s Nest, Ottawa, ON)


Wednesday, August 23rd:  at Concordia (Montreal, PQ)

Friday, August 25th:  vs. Bishop’s (at Raven’s Nest, Ottawa, ON)

Saturday, August 26th:  at Carleton (Raven’s Nest, Ottawa, ON).

York close to naming new Head Coach

The search for the new Head Coach at York is close to completion with the final two candidates going through their second set of interviews earlier this week.  Expect an offer to go out to the successful candidate within the next two weeks after numerous applicants were paired down to four with interviews in front of a three-person committee completed in May that led to the final two: both with extensive post-secondary Head and Assistant coaching experience.  Whoever is chosen will likely have a solid stable of returning veterans and transfers as 6’4″ Gianmarco Luciani, who played his first two seasons at Acadia after graduating from nearby King City Villanova College, looks to bounce back from a severe knee injury suffered early last season and a pair of former Lions plan to return to the lineup including 6’3″ Gene Spagnuolo and 6’2″ Hamilton native Phil Gillen.  Among the other veterans expected to return from the group that finished last season out of the playoffs are 6’5″ budding conference all-star Jayden Frederick, solid 6’2″ sophomore point guard Matthew Carating and 6’1″ Julio Vasquez.  York is also likely to add 6’8″ Nipissing transfer Michael Angenent, who played his first two seasons for former Lions Assistant Chris Cheng in North Bay before sitting out last season.  Angenent, a native of Schomberg, ON who averaged 3.4 ppg/2.3 rpg in about 12 mpg in his sophomore season (2015-16), is a high school teammate of both Luciani and Spagnuolo at Villanova College in King City.  Although the new coach will have little time to recruit in time for next season, the cupboard has some very interesting pieces to prepare for battle in the 2017-18 remake of the OUA East which is for all intents and purposes is the top conference in the nation.