In 2022 and beyond, the future of Canadian basketball is infinitely bright
It is left for new beginnings.
The Canadian basketball calendar has always operated on four-year cycles, linked to the Summer Olympics.
This was rejected due to the pandemic. Summer 2021 was really meant to be summer 2020.
And now, 2022 – rather than being a typical post-Olympic year where programs can regroup and build towards a distant goal – is more of a base camp from which the men’s and women’s programs can briefly come together before moving on. attempt the next two not so distant. summits: the 2022/2023 World Cup tournaments and the 2024 Olympic Games.
There is everything to look forward to for Canadian basketball fans in 2022 and beyond.
The executive summary?
On the women’s and men’s side, Canada has arguably never been better positioned to break into the international arena and win medals at the highest level of sport.
But like any summit attempt, the course can be dangerous, conditions unpredictable and the outcome ultimately dependent on elements beyond the control of the program, although under new CEO Michael Bartlett everything is on the business side. to increase income, reinvest and control what they can.
Before looking to the future, a quick review:
With gains come expectations and by this measure it is undeniable that 2021 has been more marked by disappointment than triumph.
It was supposed to be a time in the distant future when Canadian basketball was finally going to be recognized on the world stage as a world power.
That was the long-term vision almost a decade ago when Steve Nash and Rowan Barrett watched the wave of Canadian talent from the hoops to come and saw a group in their prime, ready to lead the charge against the best. in the world.
We all know what it turned out to be. After a shorthanded team failed to secure an Olympic spot at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2019, a significant effort was made by a local group in Victoria to host the tournament. Olympic qualification in the summer of 2020.
It was envisioned as a festival for the sport, a galvanizing moment for the national home program and a source of momentum for head coach Nick Nurse’s team that would propel them to the Olympics. Unfortunately, the pandemic pushed everything back by a year and OQT in Victoria was played out under severe restrictions and a largely empty arena, with no major side events.
We’ll never know if this was a factor in the men’s semi-final loss to the Czech Republic, but when Tomas Satoransky leaned over the bank shot above Lu Dort’s outstretched fingers fell, the painful Truth has remained: Canadian men missed the Olympics for the fifth time in a row and the sixth time on seven occasions, since 1992.
On the women’s side, there was another type of disappointment. An experienced team heading for their third consecutive Olympic tournament with a fourth place in the world and plans for a medal have failed.
Canadian basketball records are full of excruciating losses, but the women who lost their tournament opener to Serbia despite 28 turnovers (down from 16 of their own) and 11 other field goal attempts should be ranked somewhere near the top. The loss put Canada in a tough position in a tough group, and they missed out on the medal round when they lost to Spain, even though they were plus-11 in offensive rebounds, plus-eight in the shots and plus-3 in the turnovers.
The conducting wire ? In two critical games sandwiched around a resounding victory over Korea, Canada shot 38 percent from the floor, including 28 percent from depths, and failed to help their cause with 67 percent from no free throws. more.
But this is all a thing of the past, and the future begins now with a long list of international events – the possibility of a new National Under-22 Summer Tournament that would allow Canadians to play at home while representing their own. country, among them. Additionally, the NCAA Tournament will undoubtedly feature Canadians playing key roles in powerful teams, while the NBA Draft will certainly have a Canadian flavor as well.
Lisa Thomaidis watches Canada take on China in the preliminary round of women’s basketball at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday August 6, 2016 (Sean Kilpatrick / CP).
The women’s program has parted ways (amicably) with head coach Lisa Thomaidis, a constant with the senior team for two decades and one of the most successful coaches Canada has ever had, with two Olympic appearances and a fifth place finish at the world championships on his resume.
The search for his successor is underway, with interest from coaches around the world looking to attach themselves to an experienced team that can still envision a future driven by the obvious promises of youngsters like Laeticia Amihere, Aaliyah Edwards and Shaina Pellington. .
The first test of the next women’s phase will take place in February when they travel to Tokyo, February 8-10, for a World Cup qualifying event in a pool with Japan, ranked No.8 in the world, with Belarus (11th) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (27th).
The top three teams will advance to the 12-team World Cup scheduled from September 22 to October 22. 1 in Sydney, Australia.
Normally, you would expect Canada to be a lock to move forward, led by WNBA mainstays Natalie Achonwa, Kia Nurse and Bridget Carleton. But these are not normal times.
In addition to having a new coach – who has yet to be named – they will try to qualify without Nurse, who is recovering from a tear in the ACL suffered in early October. Retired veterans Miranda Ayim and Kim Gaucher will also be missed. Additionally, Canada’s top NCAA talent – Amihere, Edwards and Pellington – is unlikely to be available given the OQT falls during the most critical phase of the college basketball season.
Canada should be a medal threat at the World Cup – especially if Nurse can be back in shape by then – but getting there shouldn’t be taken for granted.
On the men’s side, they will work to build on the impressive start to qualifying for the 2023 World Cup. Most of the squad, which happened 2-0 in resounding wins, is expected against the Bahamas in November, be available for the next window, when they are the big favorites against the Dominican Republic (February 24) and the US Virgin Islands (February 27), and again on July 1 and 4 when they face again both teams, except at home. The first window of the next phase – August 25-29 – will also likely be in Canada before another course change in November.
While men are prohibitive favorites to qualify for the World Cup in 2023, the summer windows will offer a bigger test for the program.
Who will play?
Canada’s head coach Nick Nurse is pictured ahead of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup exhibition match against Nigeria in Toronto on Wednesday August 7, 2019 (Chris Young / CP )
When Nurse pledged to coach the men’s team throughout the 2024 Olympics, he made it clear that he and GM Barrett would prioritize continuity over the power of the stars when it comes to football. the ongoing and intermittent relationship that many of Canada’s top NBA players have had with the program. Do you want to play the Olympic Games? Showing up during summers 22 and 23 would be mandatory, that was the message.
How well this resonated among Canada’s top players will get its first test this summer.
On the youth side, the train continues to roll. Canada’s age group programs are among the most prolific in the world, with boys placing second overall and girls placing fourth as they begin to qualify for the world championships slated for 2023.
Once again, it looks like Canada will be well represented in the NCAA tournament, with Olympians Amihere, Pellington and Edwards playing key roles over South Carolina, Arizona and UConn, respectively first ranked programs. , fourth and 11th in the latest polls.
On the men’s side, Zach Edey, Andrew Nembhard and Ben Mathurin are key pieces in Purdue, Gonzaga and Arizona, programs ranked third, fourth and ninth respectively.
By the time of the NBA Draft in June, it’s likely those three, along with Michigan’s Caleb Houston, will represent this latest class of Canadians to be among the 60 names called up.
The future of Canadian basketball remains infinitely bright, but in 2022, it will be time to start turning promises into results.
It’s time to start something new.