Lots of CIS stuff because it was a fun weekend
How was it? It was good, actually.
It’s the first time I’ve been at a CIS final in a long time and, overall, it was quite good and far better than the last one I was at. It was nice to see a lot of old friends and perhaps make some new ones and it never hurts to just be around to fly the flag.
But the game’s the thing, right?
What was it like?
Well, the calibre of play was good, the games were competitive, the skills were probably a bit better than I had expected.
And that’s all you want, right? Good games played by kids who care and are well-coached and supported by good fans.
I guarantee you the emotion I saw at the arena in Ottawa was as pure and as heartfelt as anything anyone saw in Buffalo on the weekend, for instance.
Now, did I see future pros in action? No, I didn’t. But I bet if I looked at the NCAA brackets really closely, I would be able to safely say I saw as many future NBAers at the tournament I covered than some guys would have at first-round NCAA sites.
But that’s not really the point, is it?
The point is, as I tried to make today in the newspaper, the game in Canada is getting better, the coaching is better (I think the officiating has ways to go to catch up) and that means everyone connected with the game wins.
I also think we need to write more about these kids and the programs and the teams. A one-off appearance was a good thing, I have to do a better job next season of doing more, there are lots of good stories out there that need to be told. Not game stories, per se, but stories about the people who play the game and the issues they face.
The thing I hear often when I suggest things like that – and this is from readers as much as it is from people in our industry – is that people don’t care.
Well, how do we know?
Do they not care because we don’t tell them? If we gave them more stories, would they care? It’s a chicken and egg thing in some regards and maybe it’s time we take the initiative and simply do it and see how everyone reacts.
This, my friends, is a dilemma.
I guess it has to be the hoops but, man, what I’d give to see Buzz Aldrin trip the light fantastic.
Or just trip.
Anyway, no early favourite, I’m afraid; got to check out the whole crew before starts.
Speaking of tonight, we will be here to dissect the mighty struggle in Minneapolis just before 8 p.m. but I’m afraid I can’t do questions and answers because I’ll be somewhere on the 401 motoring home at noon, I hope.
Sorry about that but we will do it Wednesday and Friday from the comfort of the Air Canada Centre.
Me? I’ll probably forgive him. Eventually.
But Super Son, who decided with Dear Old Dad to have Villanova make to the Final Four, might not be the biggest Alvin Williams fan in the world.
And since we had Kansas facing the Wildcats in championship game, I’m fearing our bracket is busted and the e-mail we get from The Biggest Syracuse Fan We Know (hi, David!) will probably have us far down the standings.
They should make gambling illegal.
I may not have been around the Heroes Of The Hardcourt this weekend but I have been around this machine and found this in the Minnesota paper to set up tonight’s game from a Minneapolis perspective.
Oh, and the pub across from the Target Center is Donovan’s and I’m a bit ticked I didn’t get there or to J.D. Hoyt’s for dinner. Next year, I guess.
Back to the CIS for a minute and I had an interesting conversation with Saskatchewan coach Greg Jockims about the game and the coaching gig and where it’s going.
He brought up a pretty good point about what trying to elevate the game to even more relevance among the general basketball population.
“Coaches are, I think, in a sense being pressured to get their programs up to high levels. There’s been a few guys released, and fired, and you see more and more of that, schools are putting more importance on having quality athletic programs which is good and bad.
“The positive is that events like this continue to grow, and the excitement level and he quality of play continues to grow but the pressure that puts on personnel, you have to be careful about firing people for not being competitive or winning, that’s not a positive thing, I don’t think.”
Generally, I’m told the level of coaching the CIS is quite good and it’s kind of refreshing to see young guys and former national team members like Greg Francis, head man at Alberta, and Randy Knorr, who’s on Kevin Hanson’s staff at UBC, in the ranks.
I think it’s going to be just as important for the coaching skills to improve and the talent pool to deepen than it is for the same thing to occur with the players.
Here’s something I didn’t know before Sunday night:
Scotiabank Place’s capacity is about 44,000.
Must be, they announced a crowd of 11,000 at the game and the joint was a quarter filled. Even by my stinky math skills, that works out, right?
One lasting image of the weekend?
Zany, green-clad Saskatchewan fans, which affirms a belief I had from covering a little bit of gridiron back in the day that there really is some level of support in that province that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country.
I love Saskatchewanians – and if that’s not the right word, sorry; it’s the best I’ve got – because they care deeply. It was a hoot to see them.