Scouting Duke: Trip to Canada

With all five starters either graduating (6’5″ Grayson Allen) or declaring for the NBA Draft (6’10” ACC Player-of-Year/1st Team All-American Marvin Bagley III, 6’6″ sg Gary Trent Jr., 6’10” Wendell Carter Jr. and 6’3″ pg Trevon Duval), Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski will travel to Canada with a virtually revamped front-end of the rotation.

Duke does return 7’0″ senior Antonio Vrankovic (1.0 ppg in 14 games this past season) and a pair of juniors:  6’11” Marques Bolden (3.9 ppg/3.6 rpg in 13 mpg) and 6’10” Javin DeLaurier (3.4 ppg/4.0 rpg in 14 mpg) as their interior players for next season.  As well 6’6″ rising sophomore Alex O’Connell who averaged about 10 mpg and 3.3 ppg is scheduled to return.  All have been reserve players during their Duke careers as Coach K rode his five starters heavily all season:  Bagley, Allen, Trent Jr., Carter Jr. and Duval averaged a collective 161 minutes per game with Carter Jr.’s penchant for foul trouble a factor in giving Bolden and DeLaurier double-digit per game minutes off the bench.

But fear not for the perennial national championship contenders, Blue Devils attracted the U.S.A.’s No. 1 recruiting class, featuring the top three players in the class of 2018, including 6’7″ small forwards R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish, 6’6″ power forward Zion Williamson and 6’2″ point guard Tre Jones.

Also peculiar for long-time followers of Coach K’s legendary program is the amount of zone defense deployed recently – especially this past season – by the Devils, potentially a function of a freshman-laden group that struggled to understand (or more to the point – in the AAU era – never were previously taught) the basic tenants of help defense, close-out angles, off-the-ball rotations and, even more simply, ball screen “d”.

Add in a sprinkle of the general lack of perimeter shooting in the contemporary college game compared to era’s past and also possibly the need to shield his starters from foul trouble and a long-time “man or bust” defensive coach – who toiled under legendary man-to-man “d” coach Bobby Knight at Army as a player and at Indiana as an Assistant Coach (one season 1974-75) – transforms into his best Jim Boeheim imitation.

And the problem for traditional die-hards is that it worked ! (if you measure by wins; other measures will be arbitrated next season in the NBA when opponents develop defensive scouting reports around the graduating Duke players).

Long-time college fans identify Duke as a “slap-the-floor, clap-your-hands” pressure man-to-man team since Krzyzewski took over the Blue Devils in 1980 from Bill Foster but Coach K began sprinkling in zone “d” during their National championship run in 2015, even playing a handful of possessions in zone in the national championship game that season against Wisconsin.  But it wasn’t until February of this past season when a “dreadful” defensive performance resulted in an all-night review by the coaching staff and decision to commit to a zone for his freshman-laden group.  And the transition was virtually immediate:  one estimate had Duke playing 95% of their defensive possessions after mid-Feburary in a 2-3 zone:  purists were ignored & Duke became a Syracuse-like zone team !

With another crop of five freshmen coming in expected to see the majority of the minutes – and the Canadian trip their very first action as Duke Blue Devils – it will be interesting from the get-go to witness whether or not Coach K believes this group can take to his traditional man-to-man concepts quickly or, based on last season’s experience, get his group ready to play heavy doses of zone from the start of the season in order to survive.

Our bet here is that in the games in Canada, Coach K comes out in man to gauge how well his kids understand the notions – some of which in a traditional college program can take players a couple or more years to really solidly understand – in any program.  In any case, what Duke does defensively presents an interesting sub-plot to one of the more widely anticipated visits by a U.S. Division 1 program to Canada in the history of the summer tours.


Nation’s Capital trip not in Blue Devils plans

Noticeably absent from the Duke Blue Devils summer trip to Canada is a stop in our Nation’s Capital, home of the perennial National champions Carleton Ravens and contenders Ottawa Gee-Gees.  For more than a decade, Ravens and Gee-Gees have played host to a slew of top NCAA Division 1 teams with the likes of Kansas, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Indiana, Cincinnati, Wichita State, Villanova, Memphis, Baylor and Indiana among several others making trips.

Both Carleton and Ottawa have authored victories against highly-rated teams – among others, prior to the 2013-14 season Carleton handily defeated a fully-rostered Wisconsin squad 95-82 that included Frank Kaminsky and Sam Decker among others the season before Badgers advanced to the NCAA championship game and two days later lost in OT to Syracuse.  More recently, Carleton defeated Wichita State and won at Providence last fall.

The Gee-Gees knocked off a Yogi Ferrell-led Indiana squad (a full list of games between U-Sport and NCAA programs can be found at Martin Timmerman’s wonderful site) and have won five of their last seven games against NCAA Division 1 programs.  NCAA program visits to Ottawa continue as Cincinnati Bearcats among others visit our Nation’s Capital this coming summer.

But the Blue Devils have chosen to by-pass Ottawa this summer despite efforts by Carleton to schedule a game, Duke’s schedule will not include either of the Ottawa schools.  Ravens Head Coach Dave Smart:  “Obviously we would love to play Duke.  We would have driven to Montreal to play that game.  I tried to reach out to let them know we would love the opportunity.  Who wouldn’t love to play a program and a coach with such a storied tradition?  If they offered we would be there in a minute.”

After losing their entire starting lineup to graduation and the up-coming NBA draft (we will have a full preview on Duke’s new-look roster shortly), the Blue Devils will welcome the #1 ranked recruiting class in the U.S.A. to Durham, led by 6’7″ Canadian R.J. Barrett, and this young roster will play three games in Canada:  two in Toronto against two-time U-Sport championship game participant Ryerson Rams and U of T Varsity Blues and one in Montreal against three-time defending RSEQ champions McGill Redmen.

Our Blue Devils summer preview to be published momentarily will touch on some of the potential reasons why Duke may not wish to play more veteran, seasoned Canadian university teams in August despite the strong potential that Coach K and company would likely learn a lot about the make-up of their team by doing so.

U-Sport coaches to lead Canada’s National team programs this summer

The summer of 2018 promises to be a busy period for Canada’s National men’s team program with three groups hitting the spotlight fresh off the news that Canada is the #2 program in the FIBA Youth Men World Rankings as of early May, 2018.

Action begins later this month in Ottawa as our U-18 National team starts camp at Carleton University in preparation for the eight-team FIBA Americas world championship qualifying tournament to be held at the Meridian Center in St. Catharines beginning 10th June.  Head Coach Dave Smart (Carleton) will lead the coaching staff which includes Chris Cheng (Nipissing) and Jamie McNeilly, a long-time National program assistant who is a member of the Virginia Tech staff under Buzz Williams.  National team program veteran Michael Meeks will also work on the staff.

The 8 team FIBA Americas U18 qualifier tournament begins on 10th June with Canada slated in Group B with Ecuador, Chile and Argentina.  Group A consists of USA, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Panama.  Canada’s first game is Sunday, June 10th at 2:15 PM ET against Argentina.  Group A preliminary actions continues the following day Monday, June 11th as Canada meets Ecuador before closing the opening round on Tuesday, June 12th vs. Chile.

Quarter-finals are on Thursday, June 14th followed by semi-final on 15th and the Gold medal and Bronze medal games on Saturday, June 16th.

Followers are likely to recall that last summer, Canada qualified for the U-17 World Championships in Argentina with a silver medal at the FIBA Americas qualifier.  Last summer’s team, led by UVic’s Craig Beaucamp and assisted by Rob Smart Jr. (Carleton) and Patrick Tatham (McMaster), went a tidy 4-1, losing only to the USA in the gold medal game.

This summer’s U-17 team will be led by Manitoba’s Kirby Schepp with Tatham and newly-crowned U-Sports National championship Head Coach Dan Vanhooren (Calgary) part of Schepp’s staff.  The team is likely to return the core of their silver medal group from last summer led by 6’5″ Cashius McNeilly – son of U-19 Assistant Coach Jay McNeilly – 5’10” Shemar Rathan-Mayes (brother of National team and NBA prospect Xavier Rathan-Mayes), 6’1″ Taryn Todd, 6’4″ Luka Sakota, 6’6″ Malachi Ndur, 6’6″ Paris Shand (son of former Humber Hawk and Canadian National team player Kevin Shand) and 6’7″ Ben Kirkke.  6’6″ Addison Patterson who has zoomed up the charts in the class of 2020 rankings is among others also likely to be considered as a candidate for this group.

U-17’s gather in Toronto between June 10th and 17th for their camp and final team selection before heading to Mexico to represent Canada at the “Basketball Without Borders” event.  The FIBA U-17 World Championships, a 16 team event, begin on 30th June in Argentina with Canada slated in Group C with Montenegro, Egypt and New Zealand.  Canada’s first game is Saturday, June 30th against Montenegro in Rosario followed by matches against Egypt on Canada Day Sunday, July 1st and New Zealand on Tuesday, July 3rd.

Finally, Canada’s Senior Men’s National team has a pair of qualifying games on friendly soil this summer, continuing Group D action.  Canada currently sits at 3-1 with home games slated this early summer for Friday, June 29th in Toronto at the Ricoh Center against Dominican Republic and Monday, July 2nd in Ottawa at TD Place (Lansdowne Park) against U.S. Virgin Islands.  Recall Canada defeated U.S. Virgin Islands 118-89 in an earlier matchup.

Recall that Dominican Republic won the first game over Canada with a relatively easy 88-76 at home in the Dominican before a large, raucous crowd in Santiago as DR shot 49% from the floor, took a 14 point lead into halftime and got a game-high 25 points from 6’3″ Rigoberto Mendoza, a veteran of the DR pro league, including 4-6 from three to win comfortably.  6’3″ Phil Scrubb had 22 to lead Canada.  Expect a potentially even more formidable lineup for DR this summer including the possibility that rising 7’0″ star Karl Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves could suit up.  Note also that 6’9″ Boston Celtics star Al Horford and 6’7″ Luis Montero (waived by Detroit this past season and a D-League vet) are other possibilities in DR’s line-up.

U.S. Virgin Islands was most recently coached by ex-Raptors Head Coach Sam Mitchell with a roster dotted with several low-to-mid NCAA D1 veterans.

Many expect Canada to field a formidable lineup with several NBA players likely to suit up this summer.  Although no formal announcements have been made, 6’10” Kelly Olynyk (Miami), 6’2″ Cory Joseph (Indiana), 6’9″ Tristan Thompson (Cleveland), 6’5″ Jamal Murray (Denver), 6’9″ Dwight Powell (Dallas), 6’9″ Khem Birch (Orlando), 6’1″ Tyler Ennis (L.A. Lakers) and 6’6″ Dillon Brooks (Memphis) are among the many players who have generally been loyal to the Canadian program over the years.  6’7″ R.J. Barrett, a potential generational talent who led Canada to the FIBA U-19 World Championship in Egypt last summer – Canada’s first Gold medal in a major FIBA competition – begins what is expected to be a “one-and-done” college season at Duke University with a likely trip to Canada in August with the program planned, which may preclude Barrett’s participation at any level for Canada this summer.

Unconfirmed, informal reports have several of the big name veterans of the program energized to play including Birch who says:  “I want to wear the Canadian jersey this summer !”

Another loyal Canadian is 6’6″ Melvin Ejim, a long-time glue guy with the program who is also anxious to represent this summer in front of the home crowds.

6’9″ Trey Lyles had a strong season at Denver but has not as of yet ever suited up for Canada’s Senior team and it has been three summers and counting since 6’8″ Andrew Wiggins played for Canada (2015 FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament).

Still in some apparent flux is the Head Coach situation for this summer.  German pro league mentor Gordie Herbert and Ryerson Head man Roy Rana have taken turns coaching Canada over the past 12 months and it appears that long-time coach Jay Triano, who completed this past season as interim coach in Phoenix with the Suns, remains available after not being chosen as the Suns next Head Coach.

Regardless of who shows up and/or who is coaching, Canada has an opportunity to field a much better team than the #23 standing our country currently has in the latest FIBA Men’s rankings.



Voyageurs to make Costa Rica trip again

For the second consecutive summer, Head Coach Shawn Swords will take his Laurentian Voyageurs to the beautiful Central American country of Costa Rica for a series of games against NCAA Division 1 opponents.  Recall Vees went 1-3 last summer in Costa Rica including a 76-67 victory over Montana.  The D1 Grizzlies ended up going 26-8 this past season, capturing the Mountain West tournament championship before losing to eventual NCAA championship game participant Michigan in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  Vees also lost by 2 to Kent State and by 6 to Western Kentucky during last season’s trip.  Laurentian finished 16-7 in fourth place in OUA East this past season, losing in the OUA quarter-final at Carleton.

This summer Laurentian will face off against D1 opponents Troy Trojans (16-17 last season in Sun Belt Conference; Troy, Alabama), Eastern Kentucky (11-20 last season in Ohio Valley conference; Richmond, Kentucky) and San Diego Toreros (20-14 last season in West Coast Conference).

Swords returns Moser Award winner Kadre Gray who led Laurentian to their most successful season in several years before breaking his foot late in the season.  Vees must replace starters 6’3″ David Aromolaran and 6’5″ William Yengue plus part-time starter 6’7″ Joe Sykes and key 6’3″ reserve O.J. Watson.  Expect Swords to name his most recent recruiting class in the coming weeks.

UBC-Okanagan looking for a Lead Assistant Coach

POSITION NUMBER:     00045216
BUSINESS TITLE:     Lead Assistant Coach, Men’s Basketball
EMPLOYMENT GROUP:     Management&Professional (AAPS)
JOB FAMILY:     Unassigned Athletic Coaches
JOB CODE:     188012 – Assistant Basketball Coach
VP/FACULTY:     UBCO – AVP Students
DEPARTMENT:     UBCO – Athletics & Recreation
PAY GRADE:     Unassigned



Under direct supervision of the Head Coach, assists with coaching, management and coordination of the specified varsity team, operating under applicable athletics association operating bylaws/policies/procedures, university policies and philosophy and the objectives of the varsity program and athletic department. The primary objective being the provision of high quality competitive opportunities for athletically talented student-athletes as a vehicle to develop these student athletes to their fullest potential.


The Lead Assistant Coach reports to the Head Coach who reports to the Director of Athletics & Recreation.
The Director outlines expectations & direction through departmental meetings, handbooks, rules, regulations and policies that apply to all aspects of the intercollegiate operations.
The Lead Assistant Coach works directly with and under the Head Coach who determines the scope of work. The Head Coach may delegate to the Lead Assistant certain aspects of team/group/individual practices, game preparation/management, and/or other program responsibilities (e.g., recruit identification, etc.).


Attends all team practices and league/exhibition games
May be asked to step in for the Head Coach in case he/she is unable to fulfill duties
Attends meetings as requested
Participates in team/departmental fundraising activities and other activities (e.g. Rez Move-in Day, Athletics Awards Banquet, Athletics Scholarship Breakfast, Community Outreach, etc.
Works with the Head Coach to ensure the safety of team members
Assists Head Coach in organizing, preparing and conducting individual and team practices competition
Assists the Head Coach with advanced scouting and preparation of scouting reports
Assists the Head Coach with post game review and post-game analysis reports
Assists the Head Coach, as directed, in recruit identification and conducting initial recruitment of student-athletes in accordance with applicable athletics association rules and regulations
Assists, as appropriate, in planning and arranging team travel including coordination of transportation and accommodations as necessary
Assists the Head Coach in monitoring and assisting student-athletes with academic progress, and assists in ensuring participating student-athletes meet all necessary and required eligibility regulations as set out in the applicable athletics association rules and regulations
Performs administrative duties as requested including initiating correspondence and by assisting the Athletics Department with ordering and maintaining equipment
Assists the Head Coach with the organization and implementation of the UBC summer sport camps
Works with the UBC Athletics Development Office in support of alumni relations and team fundraising
Performs other job-related duties as assigned.


This position represents the UBC Okanagan Varsity Program, the students and the University. Incorrect decisions or lack of judgment will directly affect the Department and UBC’s reputation with the community at large. The program must be managed with the utmost of integrity so as to positively impact not only the University but also the alumni who are associated with the program. Given the direct contact with vommunity and students, is expected to comply with applicable athletics associations rules and regulations and with all UBC policies and procedures on inclusiveness. Is expected to operate with high level of judgement.


The Lead Assistant Coach reports directly to the Head Coach


Supervision is limited due to the nature of the position. May provide direction to external contractors hired by Athletics.


Grade 12 minimum
NCCP level(s) preferred
Basic level of First Aid Training required. Minimum of two years of experience coaching senior high school, senior club, college or university teams is preferable Specific abilities required in specialized fields or aptitudes such as technical or interpersonal skills.
Possession of strong communication, organizational, leadership and interpersonal skills.
Familiarity with the local and provincial sport-specific communities and athletics association(s) policies and procedures.
In depth knowledge of rules and regulations of the sport they are coaching.
Organizing and coordinating skills.
Demonstrated competitive coaching skills.
Knowledge of applicable athletics association eligibility and recruiting rules and regulations, as well as rules of the game.
Ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing.
Ability to foster a cooperative work environment.
Strong interpersonal and communication skills and the ability to work effectively with a wide range of constituencies in a diverse community.
A pleasant personality together with a positive attitude is essential.
A high level of integrity.


Ravens post opportunity for full-time Assistant Coach



The Carleton Ravens Men’s basketball program is looking for an assistant coach to join the coaching staff.   The team is coming off an impressive 23-0 regular season, an OUA Championship Banner and U Sports bronze medal.   To continue to build this success the Head Coach is looking for an assistant coach to assist in the areas of recruiting and community engagement.

Position Type:  Full time casual appointment (Range depending on experience: 30k – 50k)

Duties include:

  • Assisting coaching in practices and games
  • Weekly game day preparation
  • Proficiency in video editing
  • Recruiting:

o Traveling to events

o Attending assigned games, practices and tournaments

o Contacting coaches as appropriate

o Evaluating prospects and providing reports to the head coach

  • Organizing on campus recruiting visits with the Varsity administrator
  • Responsible for organizing and working with community outreach programs, including working with local clubs, Junior Ravens and summer camps
  • Assisting in any in-season and off season duties that may arise and as assigned by the Head Coach


Elite level coaching experience with a recruiting background is a preference.  A university degree and an understanding of U Sport and OUA policies and procedures.   An appreciation and understanding of the student-athlete experience.   Strong basketball technical skills including working knowledge of video editing and analysis.  Driver’s License is essential.

Police record check will be required.

Please forward your cover letter, resume and list of three references to Head Coach, Dave Smart at Carleton University by e-mail  Only successful candidates will be contacted for an interview.   Closing date is May 21st, 2018.

Thank you for your interest.


Reports: Duke to make summer trip to Canada, likely to skip Ottawa

As previously alluded to, and now according to Montreal-based basketball newsman Peter Yannopoulos and the Duke Chronicle, Duke Blue Devils, fresh off signing 6’7″ Canadian R.J. Barrett, the nation’s #1 ranked recruit, are likely to make a summer trip to Toronto and Montreal in early August.  Duke Sports Information has yet to confirm the trip officially however several sources indicate plans are close to being finalized.


Notably, Coach K and program apparently will not be travelling to our nation’s capital where Canada’s consensus top program over the past two decades Carleton Ravens and perennial Nationals contender Ottawa Gee-Gees have hosted numerous teams over the years.  Our Nations’ Capital has been a tough place for top D1 teams to visit over the years and the young Devils, with another deep, top-ranked recruiting class, may have had that in mind when planning this apparent trip.

Tentative plans have the Devils going to Toronto in and around 13th August to face Ryerson Rams and then making their way to Montreal to meet McGill, likely at Place Bell on 20th August.  Place Bell is the recently-built home of Montreal Canadians AHL affiliate.  Expect some controlled scrimmages and other activities around the visit.  We may even see more games against other teams.  Exciting news for Canadian basketball fans.