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FIBA Women’s World Cup Takeaways: Learning experience for Canada in loss to U.S. – Sportsnet.ca

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Breanna Stewart scored a game-high 17 points and added eight rebounds as the United States demolished Canada 83-43 in the semifinals of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022. 

The loss saw Canada move onto the bronze-medal game, while the United States will compete for its fourth straight World Cup gold. 

The star Las Vegas Aces pick-and-roll combo of A’Ja Wilson and Chelsea Gray combined for 19 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists for the U.S. in the win. 

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Laeticia Amihere led all Canadian scorers with eight points. 

The Americans jumped on Canada right from the opening tip, getting out to a 15-0 run to begin the game. The U.S. held the Canadians without a single point for nearly five full minutes before Amihere finally ended the drought with 5:09 left in the first quarter. 

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“I was really pleased with our team’s attention to detail in the scouting report,” Cheryl Reeve, Team USA’s head coach said after the game. “Canada’s had, I think, a terrific tournament and so I told our group that they’re a win against the hosts away from being the No. 1 seed on that side. So, I wanted them to understand what they just did and how hard they made it for Canada to score the ball – and Canada’s a very good defensive team. 

“So, that was a quality win for us and, as we said, our goal is to win a gold medal and we’re in position to do that.” 

Canada scored just seven points in total in the first quarter as it carried a 27-7 deficit that would never really shrink much. 

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Overall, the Canadians looked to be thoroughly overmatched by the United States’ superior length, strength, speed and athleticism. Canada only shot 21.9 per cent from the field while the U.S. finished the game having shot the ball a tidy 48.4 per cent from the field. 

Here are a few takeaways from a rough Canadian defeat in the semifinals to a powerful U.S. squad. 

Valuable learning experience for Canada

Despite the lopsided nature of the loss, there’s certainly positives for Canada to take from its game with the U.S. 

For one, it’s abundantly clear what the top of the mountain looks like for this team as it looks to build towards the 2024 Paris Olympics.

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The United States is an unfair team filled to the brim with not just WNBA talent, but WNBA stars – Kelsey Plum and Sabrina Ionescu comes off the bench for the U.S. Yet, this is the kind of obstacle that will need to be overcome if Canada is to achieve its gold-medal dreams. 

Understanding what you’re up against is never a bad thing, even if it may seem demoralizing as you embark upon the journey. 

For Canada head coach Victor Lapena, this game, and all the others Canada has played in so far, have been valuable building blocks for what’s to come. 

“It’s very, very important to be in these games for us,” said Lapena. “Before coming here we didn’t talk, we didn’t expect to be in the semifinal, but on the other hand we didn’t think that we wouldn’t be able to do it. … 

“I’m very happy with the group because all our games were difficult work for us. Serbia, France, Japan. Very difficult, but this is experience and experience and experience and they’re very different styles. So, for our team, looking to the future, looking towards Paris, looking after the Olympics, looking at the next six, eight years [playing in these games] is very, very important.” 

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U.S. runs down Canada’s throat

When Canada went down 15-0 to begin the game it, essentially, finished right there in that moment. 

The United States appeared to have a shock-and-awe gameplan by playing very quickly, something that had Canada on its toes from the opening tip, leading to tentative play and no chance to retaliate before it was already too late. 

“They played amazing from the beginning of the game,” said Lapena. “When you play against USA in the semifinal it’s pretty clear that you’re either perfect or they’re going to break the game open in 10-15 minutes.” 

Dissatisfied with how they started against Serbia in their quarterfinal matchup, the U.S. looked like they were playing with just a six-second shot clock at times. They continually pushed for transition and semi-transition looks and, when Canada’s half-court defence was actually set, would force quick post-ups for easy lay-ups or a kick-out for three. The Canadian defence was helpless in the face of the American ball movement. 

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Team USA finished the game scoring 14 points off 15 Canadian turnovers, tallying 16 fastbreak points and eating up the entire with 48 points in the paint. 

“I think for any team playing quicker earlier in the offence, before the defence is well positioned, is a goal for any team,” said Reeve. “That’s been an identity that we’ve really hammered and when we’re at our best. And like I said, any team is at their best when they’re playing earlier in the possession. And so, we’ve just really put a strong emphasis on that area. 

Looking ahead to the bronze-medal game

Canada will see Australia in the bronze medal game, Friday at 11:00 p.m. ET on Sportsnet. 

Should they come out on top, it would be Canada’s first FIBA Women’s World Cup medal since 1986, when the national team topped Czechoslovakia 64-59 to win bronze. 

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Australia fell to China in a heartbreaker 61-59, setting up a gold-medal matchup between them and the United States. 

The host Aussies failed to reach the gold-medal game despite China being without leading scorer Li Meng. The guard missed the semifinal game after reportedly suffering a fever because of fatigue. 

For Canada, the chance to square off against Australia for bronze is an opportunity. 

Canada’s lone defeat in the group stage came to Australia, 75-72, where Canada blew a 14-point lead and saw Australia storm back in the fourth quarter to steal a victory. 

The chance to exact some revenge for an earlier defeat with a podium spot on the line has to be enticing for Team Canada. Better yet, it’s fair to think the Canadians will have something of an advantage. 

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This late into the tournament, fatigue has set in, especially with how many games teams must play in such a short amount of time. 

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Given the seesaw, physical affair Australia went through in an all-out scrap against China and the chance Canada got to give its key players rest in a blowout with the U.S., the Canadians should have fresher legs heading into the bronze-medal game. 

At the very least, Lapena wants his players to rest up before the big game. 

“The players just need to sleep to recover their bodies, and to eat the perfect food to be ready,” Lapena said. “Yes, sleep is very important.” 

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It’s not a huge advantage, but when you’re fighting for a medal for the first time in 36 years any edge that can be eked out is worth exploring.





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20 Fantasy Thoughts: Kadri still searching for offence with Flames

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Cal Petersen ending up on waivers was a bit of a shocker.

I actually drafted Petersen with my final pick in one league, thinking Jonathan Quick wouldn’t be able to sustain the numbers he produced last year and Petersen might be able to overtake him. My projection on Quick is proving true, but I couldn’t have been more wrong about Petersen. He looks nothing like the goalie from 2020-21 that had a .911 save percentage.

The Los Angeles Kings are in an interesting predicament. There’s no question they can ice a very competitive team, but Los Angeles is in danger of squandering their season if they don’t get some saves. You can only lean on a 36-year-old Quick so much and banking on him to recapture some of last season’s form seems like a longshot at this point. Perhaps the Kings will simply have no choice but to consider a trade.

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This is just me thinking out loud, but with the emergence of Pyotr Kochetkov, maybe the Carolina Hurricanes would be willing to move a goalie for cap reasons. Both Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta are pending UFAs and would be an upgrade to what the Kings have been dealing with this season.

It makes too much sense, which likely means it won’t happen.

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1. Matty Beniers was dropped by many after a slow stretch in early November and now he’s making those who did so really regret it. The Seattle Kraken forward has five goals and 12 points in his past six games and even though it’s still early, he’s staking his claim for the Calder. After struggling to score last year, Seattle is surprisingly sitting third in the NHL in goals for and is filling the net with regularity. Beniers is still only rostered in 42 per cent of leagues, so it’s a good time to circle back and see if you have space for him on your team.

2. Other young players haven’t been so fortunate. After an incredible preseason, Marco Rossi has struggled to stay in the lineup and is now down in the AHL. Nick Robertson is also finding it difficult to find a role on the Toronto Maple Leafs, despite starting off with two goals in his first game this season. For every Beniers, there are dozens of other prospects who take much longer to provide any fantasy value. Sometimes you have to be patient.

3. Goals in three of four games now for Auston Matthews. That’s a good sign for those who drafted him, but it still only puts the Maple Leafs sniper on pace for 38 this season. For most players, 38 goals is a really solid showing, though the expectations were much higher for Matthews. Many thought he had a realistic shot at exceeding 60 and even 50 seemed like a worst-case scenario. Of course, Matthews could drop a few multi-goal games in a row and totally flip the pace around. There’s still time, but it feels like December might be a make-or-break month for Matthews in regards to getting back on track to reach the totals we’re used to seeing from him.

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4. Andrei Kuzmenko’s streaky season continues. After posting two points in his first seven games, Kuzmenko then posted nine points in his next five, before going pointless in four. The Vancouver Canucks forward recently dropped 10 points in five games when he was really clicking with Elias Pettersson and now, he’s been held without a point in three straight. Kuzmenko seems like one of those players who is going to be added and dropped all season long. You’ll just have to hope you scoop him up at the right time.

5. Thatcher Demko is set to miss the next six weeks with an injury, so it’s the Spencer Martin show for the time being. Martin’s record has been surprisingly good thus far and if nothing else, he’ll figure to play regularly with Demko out. He’s an option if you’re desperate for help between the pipes.

6. After going goalless for a lengthy stretch that dated back to last season, Alex Killorn now has 17 points in his past 16 games. The Tampa Bay Lightning have a few players like Killorn, Brandon Hagel and Nick Paul getting a boost from that potent top six. See if you can take advantage of it with a waiver wire pickup.

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7. It’s time to be concerned over Vincent Trocheck. The New York Rangers forward fell out of the top six recently and has just a single point in six games. The silver lining here is that Trocheck is still on the top power play, so maybe there’s a chance he can pull himself out of this. Unfortunately, those who were hoping Trocheck could have an offensive renaissance in New York have been sorely disappointed thus far.

8. Tough timing for Anton Lundell’s injury. The Florida Panthers forward had points in four straight games, to go along with eight penalty minutes, 10 shots and 17 faceoff wins. He was really excelling in the Panthers’ top six with Aleksander Barkov sidelined. Hopefully, Lundell’s usage remains similar when he returns.

9. Cam Talbot has a .928 save percentage over his past five games. It’s safe to say he’s claimed the starting job for the Ottawa Senators and Anton Forsberg’s value is diminishing rapidly.

10. Games don’t get much more productive than the one Nathan MacKinnon had this week against the Buffalo Sabres. MacKinnon finished with two goals, three assists, three power-play points, two penalty minutes, eight shots, eight faceoff wins and two blocks. It would’ve been nice if he picked up a few hits, though. All joking aside, that’s one of the more versatile games for category coverage I’ve seen in recent memory.

11. Adin Hill’s value is settling into simply a backup role on a good team in Vegas. I thought there was a chance he could split more time with Logan Thompson, given coach Bruce Cassidy’s history of rotating goalies. Thompson, though, started three straight games recently for the first time all season. He’s undoubtedly the true number one with the Golden Knights.

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12. No goals for Anders Lee in 11 games now. He’s still very effective for hits, but the lack of offence is concerning. Lee is on pace for 26 goals this season, his lowest pace for a full 82-game campaign since 2015-16.

13. Cole Perfetti is starting to catch fire. I mentioned Perfetti as someone to watch in the Winnipeg Jets’ top six in the pre-season, and he’s finally hitting his stride. He’s really connecting with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler to the tune of six points in his past four games. There are also other good reasons to consider Perfetti: the Jets play four times next week, and Perfetti is C, LW, and RW eligible. Great roster flexibility there.

14. It feels like the Buffalo Sabres have a plethora of fantasy relevant forwards this year, and JJ Peterka is the latest to go on a run. Peterka quietly has points in five of six games, thanks to being able to take advantage of Dylan Cozens’ recent strong play. I’m not sure I’d pick him up right now but put Peterka on your watch list.

15. The same goes for promising rookie Jonatan Berggren of the Detroit Red Wings. He’s notched six points in 10 games since being called up, though he isn’t getting as much of an opportunity as Peterka. Maybe if he keeps this up, Berggren will get a shot in the top six at some point with Tyler Bertuzzi injured again.

16. Alex Nedeljkovic got his first start since Nov. 12 this week and promptly gave up four goals in the loss, dropping his save percentage to .880 on the year. He’s played very sparingly, as Ville Husso has taken over the starting job in Detroit. Nedeljkovic isn’t worth rostering at this point.

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17. Seattle’s offence is even trickling down to the fourth line, where Daniel Sprong amazingly has seven points in his past seven games and 14 in 17 overall this season, playing only limited minutes. For a team that couldn’t score at all last year, the Kraken suddenly have a bunch of forwards that are fantasy options.

18. I’ve mentioned Evan Bouchard’s recent surge might give him an opportunity to overtake Tyson Barrie for first power play time and it appears to be happening. Over the past two games, Bouchard has played 7:58 on the power play to Barrie’s 4:21. If this keeps up, Bouchard’s value should soar.

19. Fabian Zetterlund has remarkably picked up a point in eight of the past 11 games. What makes this so impressive is that Zetterlund is only averaging 12:43 per game this season. Talk about making the most of your opportunities. Everything is going right for the New Jersey Devils this year.

20. Nazem Kadri appeared to not miss a beat when he joined the Calgary Flames. He scored 11 points in his first 10 games and looked like he might be one of the best signings from the summer. Since then, though, he’s managed just five points and Kadri has been held to a single assist in his past eight contests. Kadri’s struggles aren’t for lack of opportunities. He’s getting top power play time and is actually starting in the offensive zone more frequently (76.7 per cent) than he did last year (63.1 per cent). However, the Flames power play hasn’t been great, sitting at 24th overall in the NHL. His linemates at even strength also leave a lot to be desired, as Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube are both on pace for significantly lower outputs than they produced a year ago. Even with a pair of goals from Mangiapane on Saturday, he’s on only pace for 20 this season, while Dube is looking at just 13. They had 35 and 18, respectively, in 2021-22. Mangiapane’s trade value isn’t very high right now, so you’ll have to hope he goes on a tear or head coach Darryl Sutter re-works his lines to give Kadri a bump to the top group. If something doesn’t change, I don’t see Kadri coming anywhere close to the totals that made him such a coveted player in the off-season.

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2 Teams That Should Be Calling About Pirates CF Bryan Reynolds

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As MLB free agency gets underway, there are still trades that are looking to be made across the league.

One player that has just become available in the trade market is Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds.

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Reynolds requested a trade from the Pirates on Saturday, and most outfield-needy teams should be calling.

The 27-year-old is a perennial all-star and one of the most underrated players in the MLB.

Here are two teams that should be calling about the Pirates’ star.

 

Toronto Blue Jays

One team that needs to be calling about Reynolds is the Toronto Blue Jays.

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After a disappointing season for them in 2022, the Blue Jays have pressure to make a run this year.

But, after trading away outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, the Blue Jays need another outfield bat.

Reynolds would be a perfect addition to their roster.

The switch hitter can slot in anywhere before or after Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.

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Reynolds would be able to elevate his game with plenty of other good hitters around him in the Toronto lineup.

If the Bule Jays are serious about contending, this is a move they need to make.

 

Miami Marlins

The Miami Marlins are desperate for a star hitter.

They have not had an all-star caliber position player since Giancarlo Stanton in 2017.

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It is time for them to make a splash move to acquire a big bat.

Reynolds would slot into the middle of the Marlins’ lineup and immediately become their best hitter.

Miami has the pitching in place to contend in the National League.

With reigning NL Cy Young winner, Sandy Alcantara leading the way.

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If the Marlins can start to develop a good group of hitters around their pitching staff, the rebuild may not take so long.

This is a big offseason for Miami as they look primed to make some big moves.

The post 2 Teams That Should Be Calling About Pirates CF Bryan Reynolds appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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2 Questions Facing The Mets After Losing Jacob DeGrom

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The New York Mets find themselves in a precarious position after losing ace Jacob deGrom.

The Mets planned to bring deGrom back, but he found a better deal with the Texas Rangers.

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So what will the Mets do now?

There are plenty of questions that surround this team after they let their prized pitcher walk.

Here are the two questions that most people should want to be answered.

 

What Will They Do At Starting Pitcher?

With deGrom now headed to Texas, and Chris Bassitt also a free agent, the Mets need some starting pitchers.

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The noise around the Mets will only get louder the longer they wait to make a big move.

Luckily for New York, there are still good free-agent pitchers available.

The two names they have to target now are Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon.

Those are the two best starters available and they can fill the void left by deGrom.

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It also seems like the Mets are interested in bringing back Bassitt who had a career year last season.

Keep an eye on the Mets as they look to be one of the most active teams in free agency.

 

How Will The Mets Pass The Braves?

The Mets spent most of last season in first place in the NL East.

Until the end of the season when they got swept by the Atlanta Braves with the division title on the line.

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The Braves have been the NL East champions for the last five seasons, so how will New York compete with them?

Other than adding more starting pitching, the Mets could also use an impact bat.

One name that could interest the Mets in the trade market is Bryan Reynolds.

The Pirates outfielder is a switch hitter and a perennial all-star.

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He also fits the Mets roster more than signing one of the available star shortstops.

The New York media will not be kind to the Mets if they do not make a splash move.

If they want to compete with the Braves and Phillies for the NL East title next year, the Mets must be active this offseason.

The post 2 Questions Facing The Mets After Losing Jacob DeGrom appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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