A hoops dynasty may continue and bounties shouldn't
Who do these guys think they are, the male equivalents of the Edmonton Grads.
(Google it, kids)
What may unfold in Halifax this weekend at the CIS men’s basketball final is the continuation of one of the great, under-reported basketball stories of the past decade as the Carleton Ravens chase their eighth national title in 10 years.
The reasons are many and varied, I’ve come to learn in the few times I’ve covered the CIS (couple of times in Halifax, a big Saskatchewan win in Ottawa one year), and run from excellent coaching from Dave Smart to an abundance of talent to a wide disparity in ability between the top teams in the country.
As this release from the CIS tells us, this Ravens team may be the best of ‘em all, they are unbeaten in domestic play, win by more than 30 points a game and have been seriously challenged in Canada just once – a three-point win over Lakehead.
But in talking to people who know the game far better than I do, the depth of talent is far superior now than it’s been in quite some time. There are all kinds of good players playing at a high level and even if the Ravens roll, the other seven teams in Halifax are probably better than the other seven behind the winner at any championship.
I talked a bit to Roy Rana of Ryerson for this piece and when we talked about keeping the talent at home, and allowing programs to build, the age-old point was made:
Most of the kids who are drawn to the allure of the NCAA are wasted or forgotten when they get there; they are fodder, end-of-the-bench guys who don’t get better as players and don’t get nearly the quality of education they are likely to get here in Canada.
If they stay home – and many should – they will play, they will get top-notch coaching, their skills will develop and – most important – if they are good enough to be pros in the NBL here or somewhere in the lower divisions of Europe, they will be found.
And they will be found at places like the CIS championships because people who scout the game will be there and be watching.
That’s more than you can say for some Canadian kid stuck on the end of the bench at some low-level NCAA school no one ever hears about or sees.
Hey, look what’s here?
Oh, and since I may loafing around a London hotel this afternoon waiting for my first Lightning game, if you’ve got mail, I’d be glad to read it.
I’m not sure how closely any of you have been following this NFL story about the bounties placed on players by teams; financial rewards for everything from knocking a guy senseless to knocking him out of the game.
It centres on the New Orleans Saints and assistant coach Greg Williams, a franchise and an individual sure to be hammered with fines and penalties by commissioner Roger Goodell whenever he gets through all the investigation.
This is a guy who drilled the New England Patriots for money and picks for spying on opponent; I can only imagine what he’ll do in this instance.
Now, I would guess that bounties – or financial rewards for big hits – have been around forever in some form. I cannot imagine some coach didn’t slip a guy a $50 bill or $100 or whatever years ago for some momentum-turning, particularly-impressive hit in a game.
But that was then, as they say, and this is now.
Now the players are bigger and stronger, the equipment is harder and less forgiving. Now players could be paralysed or worse from some especially hard hit, I would suggest the back in the day that wasn’t as much the case.
And the financial incentive is, frankly, meaningless. There was a time when $500 or $1,000 meant something to a pro athlete, now it’s pocket change or tip money for the clubhouse kids.
So it is time to police this issue more seriously, I’d suggest; time for teams and coaches and the league to crack down hard in the name of player safety more than anything else.
It’s no longer fun to ring a guy’s bell or knock the snot out of him; it’s not funny, it’s a part of a dangerous game and there really is no need for it for any reason.
This stinks a bit. But is kind of telling.
Let’s say you wanted to watch the CIS semifinals tomorrow night or the final on Sunday afternoon.
Unless you have access to EastLink TV, or want to watch on your computer you are out of luck.
Oh yeah, the good folks at NBA TV Canada will let you see the semis and final on tape delay late Saturday night, early Sunday morning and late Sunday night but other than that?
It’s curling and golf on TSN, which has done these in the past, the out-of-touch programmers at NBA TV have a nondescript NBA game against the national championships and that’s simply a bad decision.
I understand there might be something of a broader appeal to an NBA game than a CIS game but at some point, someone has to step a bit outside the box and do what’s right for the game in the country.
It’s not like NBA TV would be losing a lot of revenue – NBA games are not a huge money-maker for them – and it would be better if they did them live.
End of rant.
If I have an afternoon to kill – and I’m not sure I will – or if I want to wind down for an hour or so post-game, where would London Irregulars send a fella who’ll be at the John Labatt Centre and staying in the neighbourhood?
You know it’s almost playoff time at the Brier (I know this because I was checking TV schedules to see why the CIS semis and finals weren’t on TSN) and I haven’t watched a single end of curling this entire season.
I feel un-Canadian or something.
Relatively quiet yesterday, this tiny piece on Bargnani’s impending return was about the only news but if you’ve been reading and following the IGBT (as you all have, right?) we’ve been pointing to a return this weekend for a while.
But what kind of return?
Dwane says he’s not going to leave it up to Andrea to let him know – truthfully – how he’s feeling and whether he needs a rest. And Andrea told us he’ll do what the coach says and not push it.
Makes entire sense not to make him play 40 minutes a night but if the guy’s healthy – and enough medical people have cleared him so that shouldn’t be an issue – I don’t see why they can’t trot him out there for his usual 34-36 minutes a night.
Conditioning, and being up to game speed, would be the only reason not to.