Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
These U17s are all about their team
Province's best in national tilt
Twelve of Manitoba's best high school basketball players will be putting aside some long-standing school rivalries when they take on provincial teams from across the country at the 2010 Canada Basketball Male National Championship next week at the University of Manitoba.
Several players on the Manitoba boys 17-and-under team have faced each other for years in club and high school competition, but head coach Scott Kirkpatrick, the varsity boys coach at Maples Collegiate, has been amazed at how well they've come together as a team since starting practice last May.
"We (the coaches) haven't had to put out any fires this summer as far as 'He's getting too many shots,' or 'I don't want to play with him,' or 'It's St. Paul's versus Oak Park,' " he said after Friday's practice.
"It's been a really nice surprise. I didn't expect a lot of issues, but there just haven't been any."
Taking a quick glance at the rosters, it isn't hard to pick out some natural rivals.
Three of the starters are from Oak Park Raiders and St. Paul's Crusaders, two schools that added another chapter to their long rivalry just this spring.
Point guard Elliot Taylor's Raiders defeated Joey Nitychoruk and Amir Ali's Crusaders in the provincial basketball finals in March, and now the three will be on the floor together when they tip off against Alberta at 8:15 p.m. Monday at the U of M Investors Group Athletic Centre.
"It's always Oak Park-St. Paul's, no matter what the sport," said Taylor, who was named MVP of the provincial tournament. "But I'd say our friendships have just grown, if anything."
Taylor and Nitychoruk, a lanky 6-foot-5 forward who was named a provincial tournament all-star, have played on provincial teams together for three years and the resulting familiarity has helped them both on and off the court.
"We're buds now, really," Nitychoruk said. "There's no personal rivalries."
"I think we just help push each other, definitely," Taylor added.
"We're all just trying to win for Manitoba," said Ali, who has played against Taylor since their junior-high club days with the Winnipeg Mayhem and Manitoba Magic, a rivalry "we took so seriously."
Ali, typically a point guard, is doing his part by moving over to the wing to allow Taylor, a gifted distributor and ball-handler, to play the point.
"The chemistry's perfect. He has no problem if I have to bring the ball up, and especially when (breaking a full-court press) it can go either way, and it's working really well."
That kind of team-first, leave-your-ego-at-the-door mentality seems to permeate this team, a refreshing change of pace in a sport where individual stars can sometimes defeat teamwork.
"We're not reliant on one or two guys," Kirkpatrick said. "It's more a core of seven or eight guys.
"We've surpassed a lot of my expectations already. From where we are now compared to where I thought we would be, we're way ahead."
Manitoba will also field a team in the 15-and-under age group, under the direction of coach Jon Lundgren of Gordon Bell. They will open on Monday at 3:45 p.m. against Saskatchewan.
The finals for both age groups tip off Saturday evening.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 31, 2010 D7
Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
(1 of 6 articles for today)4:52 PM 0
Photo Store Gallery
- NBA stars set for Christmas TV smorgasbord, league preparing for annual coming-out party
- LeBron James scores 25 points, Dion Waiters adds 21 off bench as Cavs handle Grizzlies 105-91
- Knicks centre Dalembert fined $15,000 for elbowing Toronto's Valanciunas
- 76ers rally in 2nd half to claim 3rd win of the season, 96-88 over Magic
- NBA Capsules
- Cavaliers guard Irving chosen USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year
- New-Look NBA: Bucks' leaders bringing renewed energy to Milwaukee, among new breed of owners
- Anthony Davis scores 38, leads Pelicans past short-handed Thunder 101-99
- No Wade, no Bosh, no problem: Heat snap 5-game home slide, top Celtics 100-84
- Little-known coach Dave Joerger has Memphis off to franchise-best start with improved offence
- Kobe's competitiveness: 'It scares a lot of people that are just comfortable being average'
- NBA's longest winning streak this season ends as Memphis beats Golden State Warriors 105-98
- Westbrook scores 31 without Durant, OKC Thunder hold off Lakers 104-103 on Kobe's late miss
- Raptors dunk Pistons
- New-Look NBA: For Snyder and other rookie head coaches, time demands are a daily challenge
- Timberwolves backup centre Ronny Turiaf done for season after arthroscopic hip surgery
- Lowry has 20 points, 12 assists as Toronto Raptors beat Nets 105-89
- Suns guard Goran Dragic misses his 2nd straight game with strained lower back
- Warriors beat Thunder 114-109 after Kevin Durant sprains right ankle
- No dinosaur: Toronto Raptors unveil sleek new logo in short video
- James, Irving and multiple Nets players warm up in 'I Can't Breathe' shirts
- Healthy again, Warriors centre Andrew Bogut says he's 'not going to change the way I play'
- 'Heat Nation ain't going anywhere': Spoelstra addresses crowd as Miami holds open scrimmage
- Rare air: Kobe Bryant passes Michael Jordan for 3rd on NBA's career scoring list
- Asian Olympic body seeks common policy on head coverings to avoid more protests
- Wilt the Stamp: Push to put Wilt Chamberlain on postage stamp successful
- Police sent to ex-Clippers owner Sterling's home by wife, find him with woman from recordings
- Clippers coach Doc Rivers not worried about Las Vegas distractions during training camp
- Timberwolves give Pekovic day off at camp, aim to keep oft-injured big man healthy this year
- Cavaliers fans welcome back LeBron James as team holds scrimmage before nearly 17,000
Ads by Google