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In 2022 and beyond, the future for Canadian basketball is endlessly bright

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Here’s to new beginnings.

The Canadian basketball calendar has always operated on four-year cycles, tied to the summer Olympics.

That got thrown off due to the pandemic. The summer of 2021 was really supposed to be the summer of 2020.

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And now 2022 – rather than being a typical post-Olympic year where programs can regroup and build toward a distant goal – is more of a base camp from where the men’s and women’s programs can briefly gather before attempting the next two not-so-distant summits: the 2022/2023 World Cup tournaments and the 2024 Olympics.

There is everything to look forward to for fans of Canadian basketball in 2022 and beyond.

The executive summary?

On the women’s and men’s side, Canada has arguably never been better positioned to breakthrough on the international stage and bring home medals at the highest level of the sport.

But like any summit attempt, the going can be treacherous, the conditions unpredictable and the outcome ultimately dependent on elements beyond the program’s control, even though under new chief executive officer Michael Bartlett everything is being done on the business side grow revenues, reinvest and control what they can.

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Before we look ahead, a quick review:

With gains come expectations and by that measure there’s no escaping that 2021 was marked more by disappointment than triumph.

This was supposed to be a moment in the distant future when Canadian basketball was going to finally be recognized on the world stage as a global power.

That was the long-term vision nearly a decade ago when Steve Nash and Rowan Barrett gazed out upon the coming wave of Canadian hoops talent and saw a group in their prime, ready to lead the charge against the world’s best.

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We all know how that worked out. After a short-handed team failed to earn an Olympic berth at the FIBA basketball World Cup in 2019, a significant effort was made by a local group in Victoria to host the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the summer of 2020.

It was envisioned as a festival for the sport, a galvanizing moment for the national program on home soil 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 a year and the OQT in Victoria was played under significant restrictions and a mostly empty arena, without any significant ancillary events.

Whether any of that was a factor in the men’s semi-final loss to Czech Republic we’ll never know, but when Tomas Satoransky’s leaning, bank shot over the outstretched fingers of Lu Dort fell in, the painful truth remained: The Canadian men would mis the Olympics for the fifth straight time and the sixth time in seven chances, dating back to 1992.

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On the women’s side, there was a different type of disappointment. An experienced team that was heading to their third straight Olympic tournament with a No. 4 world ranking and plans for a medal came up short.

Canadian basketball file folders are full of excruciating losses, but the women losing their tournament opener to Serbia despite forcing 28 turnovers (to 16 of their own) and having 11 more field goal attempts should be filed somewhere near the top. The loss put Canada in tough position in a tough group, and they fell short of the medal round when they lost to Spain even though they were plus-11 in offensive rebounds, plus-eight in shots and plus-three in turnovers.

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The common thread? In two critical games sandwiched around a blowout win over Korea, Canada shot 38 per cent from the floor, including 28 per cent from deep, and didn’t help their cause with 67 per cent free-throw shooting either.

But all of that is in the past and the future starts now with a busy slate of international events – the possibility of a new domestic summer tournament for under-22 talent that would allow Canadians the opportunity to play at home while representing their country, among them. As well, the NCAA tournament will undoubtedly feature Canadians playing key roles on powerhouse teams while the NBA draft will certainly have a Canadian flavour as well.

Lisa Thomaidis looks on as Canada plays China in the preliminary round of women’s basketball action at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016 (Sean Kilpatrick/CP).



The women’s program (amicably) parted ways 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 her resume.

The search for her successor is on-going, with interest from coaches all over the world looking to attach themselves to an experienced team that can still look to a future buoyed by the obvious promise of youngsters like Laeticia Amihere, Aaliyah Edwards and Shaina Pellington.

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The first test of the women’s next phase comes in February when they travel to Tokyo, Feb. 8-10, for a World Cup Qualifying event in a pool with host Japan, ranked No. 8 in the World, along with Belarus (11th) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (27th).

The top three teams will advance to the 12-team World Cup scheduled for Sept. 22-Oct. 1 in Sydney, Australia.

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Normally you would expect Canada to be a lock to move on, led by WNBA stalwarts Natalie Achonwa, Kia Nurse and Bridget Carleton. But these aren’t normal times.

In addition to having a new – as yet unnamed – coach, they will be trying to qualify without Nurse, who is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in early October. Missing also will be veterans Miranda Ayim and Kim Gaucher, who have retired. As well, it’s unlikely that Canada’s top NCAA talent – Amihere, Edwards and Pellington – will 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 – more so if Nurse can be back in form by then – but getting there shouldn’t be taken for granted.

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On the men’s side, they will be working to build on the impressive start in qualifying for the 2023 World Cup. The expectation is that the bulk of the group what went 2-0 in blowout wins over Bahamas in November will be available for the next window when they will be heavy favourites against the Dominican Republic (Feb. 24) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Feb. 27), and again on July 1 and July 4 when they play both teams again, except at home. The first window of the next phase – Aug. 25–29 – will also likely be in Canada before another road swing in November.

While the men are prohibitive favourites to advance to the World Cup in 2023, the summer windows will offer a more significant test for the program.

Who will play?

Nick-Nurse Canada’s head coach Nick Nurse is pictured before FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 exhibition game action against Nigeria, in Toronto on Wednesday August 7, 2019. (Chris Young/CP)



When Nurse committed to coach the men’s team through the 2024 Olympics, he made clear he and general manager Barrett would prioritize continuity over star power when it comes to the on-again, off-again relationship so many of Canada’s top NBA players have had with the program. Want to play in the Olympics? Showing up in the summers of ’22 and ’23 would be required, was the message.

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How deeply that resonated among Canada’s top players will get its first test this summer.

On the youth side, the train keeps rolling. Canada’s age-group programs are among the most prolific in the world, with the boys carrying a cumulative ranking of No. 2 and the girls No. 4 as they begin qualifying for World championships scheduled for 2023.

Once again, it looks like Canada will be well represented during the NCAA tournament, with Olympians Amihere, Pellington and Edwards playing key roles on South Carolina, Arizona and UConn, programs ranked first, fourth and 11th, respectively, in the latest polls.

On the men’s side Zach Edey, Andrew Nembhard and Ben Mathurin are essential pieces at Purdue, Gonzaga, and Arizona, programs respectively ranked third, fourth, and ninth.

Come time for the NBA draft in June, it’s likely those three, along with Caleb Houston at Michigan, will represent that latest class of Canadians to be among the 60 names called out.

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Canadian basketball’s future remains endlessly bright, but in 2022 it will be time to begin turning promise into results.

It’s time to begin something new.



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Three Stars from Day 3 of WJC: Canada’s McTavish joins elite company – Sportsnet.ca

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Canada and the U.S. dominated in their second game of the tournament while Czechia and Finland went toe-to-toe and needed a shootout to determine a winner on Day 3 of the World Junior Hockey Championship.

The Canadian team rebounded from a sluggish performance with an 11-1 win over Slovakia, a game in which captain Mason McTavish added his name to the country’s record books.

Against Switzerland, the United States took their game to another gear that their opponent could not match as they cruised to a 7-1 victory to improve to 2-0 at the tournament.

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Finland dropped a crucial point as they had to overcome a 2-0 deficit but were able to pick up the shootout win over their rival Czechia.

Here is a look at the top performances from Day 3 of the world juniors.

3rd Star: Luke Hughes, USA

Coming from a great hockey family, Luke Hughes is making most of his opportunity as one of the top defencemen for the U.S. 

The younger brother of Quinn and Jack displayed his mobility and vision against Switzerland with a three-point effort. He now has five points in his first two games of the tournament — more than either of his brothers ever achieved at this event in fewer games.

Hughes leads all defenceman in scoring so far in the tournament and is tied for fourth overall.

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The 18-year-old played 21:18 against the Swiss to lead the U.S. in ice time playing on the top pairing with Brock Faber. His play from this point will be a crucial part of his team’s success given the creativity he displayed, especially on Matt Coronato’s goal in the second period.

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He made another top-notch set up on Thomas Bordeleau’s power-play goal in the third period as he delayed enough to get the defenders to pull towards his side of the ice.

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2nd Star: Carter Mazur, USA

Coming into the tournament, Carter Mazur is looking to build off an impressive season at the University of Denver. 

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While he was in a scoring slump in his first NCAA season, the Detroit Red Wings prospect made a call to his NHL team’s assistant director of player development, Daniel Cleary. After that, he would go on to finish with 14 goals and 38 points in 41 games.

Those tips have now turned Mazur into a scoring machine as he accounted for two of the team’s seven goals and was also named the player of the game as the top line of Mazur, Landon Slaggert, and Thomas Bordeleau had an impressive performance against Switzerland

After a scoreless first period, Mazur wasn’t going to make any mistake on a point-blank chance in front of the net with Mackie Samoskevich making a great pass from behind the net.

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With the Americans looking to add to their lead, Mazur was once again the beneficiary of a great pass from Slaggert as he made no mistake from the front of the net.

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He added another assist on Slaggert’s goal later in the period for his third point of the game. Through his first two games at the world juniors, Mazur has four points and is tied for sixth in scoring.

1st Star: Mason McTavish, Canada

On a night where Canada dominated from start to finish, Mason McTavish joined some elite company with a night he’ll certainly remember for a long time.

The 19-year-old joined Mario Lemieux, Simon Gagné, Brayden Schenn, Taylor Raddysh, Maxime Comtois and teammate Connor Bedard as the only players to score four goals in a single world junior game for Canada. The tournament record for goals in a single game is held by Sweden’s Ola Rosander who had six back in 1987.

With his performance against Slovakia in a dominant win for Canada, McTavish now sits atop the scoring lead with eight points in two games after registering six points in this game.

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McTavish scored his first goal of the game on a breakaway — with Canada already leading 5-0 midway through the second — making no mistake to beat Tomas Bolo, who came into the game after starter Simon Latkoczy was pulled going into the second period.

His second goal came off a great play by Joshua Roy who flipped the puck in the air to Brennan Othmann who then set up McTavish as he finished with a backhander to put Canada up 7-1. McTavish would complete the second-period hat trick, a day after Alexander Blank did the same for Germany, after a selfless pass from Roy on a 2-on-0 break.

Canada would capitalize on a turnover on McTavish’s fourth goal as Othmann set him up alone in front of the net and he made no mistake.

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There was some doubt about whether McTavish would suit up for Canada after playing a fair amount of hockey last season. Making his NHL debut with the Anaheim Ducks, the third overall pick from the 2021 NHL Draft played in a total of 72 games between the NHL, AHL, OHL, Memorial Cup and the Olympics.

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Instead, McTavish decided to join the team in Edmonton and take on the role as captain where he has excelled centring Canada’s top line with Bedard and and a rotation of Roy and Othmann.

Canada will now look forward to a matchup against Czechia with a chance to improve to 3-0.

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Field of Dreams Game 2022: A celebration of baseball memories in an Iowa cornfield

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The Field of Dreams is an opportunity for fans and players alike to reflect on the people and places that taught them to love baseball, Jake Mintz writes.



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Ravens extend NFL record for consecutive postseason wins following Thursday’s victory over the Titans

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USA Today

The No. 21 is now synonymous with the longest winning streaks in NFL regular and preseason history. the 2003-04 Patriots won 21 consecutive games, an NFL record. On Thursday night, the Ravens won their 21st consecutive preseason game after securing a 23-10 decision against the Tennessee Titans

Baltimore has not lost a preseason game since 2016. Joe Flacco was their starting quarterback when the streak began, while Steve Smith Jr., who this past year was eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the first time, was heading into his final NFL season. Baltimore’s roster also included Terrell Suggs, who was entering his second-to-last season with the franchise. 

Along with not losing preseason games, another constant in Baltimore over the past six years has been kicker Justin Tucker, who is entering his 11th season with the Ravens. Tucker’s field goals of 47, 25 and 47 yards on Thursday night helped Baltimore pull out the win after falling behind midway through the second quarter. 

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The Ravens won Thursday’s game by winning the turnover margin while holding the Titans to 1 of 3 red zone efficiency. One of those turnovers was scooped up by Kyle Hamilton, the Ravens’ first-round pick in this past year’s draft. 

Baltimore won despite the efforts of Malik Willis, the Titans’ rookie quarterback who overcame a slow start to score his first NFL touchdown, a 7-yard run early in the second quarter. Speaking of quarterbacks, the Ravens received a strong night from Tyler Huntley, who completed all but two of his 18 pass attempts that included his game-winning touchdown pass to Shemar Bridges



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