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Generalization is never an adequate way to effectively communicate a viewpoint.

Recently, I made a comment on Twitter that caught a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons. A mistake was made on my part because of the tone and way it was delivered. Even with Twitter extending the allowable characters in a tweet, it’s not enough to get a full point across. It’s not enough to let people know how much care has been invested in evolving part of the culture in British Columbia. Instead it was misconstrued and the intent misunderstood.

That being said, I apologize to the British Columbia basketball community for coming across as so insensitive and generalizing.

As for the substance of that tweet, there is an existing problem that can not be masked or ignored. The low intensity levels, the lack of defense presence, lack of true confidence, and a timid approach to elite competition is evident.

Yet there are changes being made as the provincial body and the province’s top club programs have met to get on the same page and work together to build a unified B. C. This year at Nationals will give a strong indication of the potential that exists in the province. As every year, we will be there to take in the action.

Moreover, there will be a club league forming next year which will feature the top clubs and increase the compete level.

I personally have been to British Columbia 12 times and know for fact that the above stigma does not apply to all. Moreover, to eliminate that attached stigma entirely, I will point out areas that are enablers of the soft culture.

The careers of Doug Plumb, Joey Haywood, Drew Urquhart, Jadon Cohee, Louise Forsyth and several others are a testament to recent guys and girls that went against the grain and have had honourable careers. Not to mention, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and Kelly Olynyk along with other B. C greats.

From a coaching standpoint, guys like Rich Goulet, Paul Eberhardt and others have set a standard yet even that is being battled in this age of entitlement.

Over the last 10 years, I have traveled across Canada back and forth with the simple mission of evaluating the nation’s top talent and providing them with scholarship and recruitment opportunities. I don’t believe that there is anyone in Canada that has been in more gyms or seen more talent than me. This is not a statement to be mistaken for arrogance. It is exactly what it says and allows me to make comparisons on what has been documented.

Moreover, I have invested and followed these teams to U. S tournaments to gauge against different talent. Being able to compare the talent across Canada over a 10 year span allows me to give the deepest perspective on the country as a whole.

If you’re a reader from the province of B. C that doesn’t feel that they fit into this mold, then great, move on and keep grinding.

This is not an attack on the province. Only good should come out of this if we can all put egos aside and face the program head on.

Exposure and the growth of a strong basketball culture in Canada are at the forefront of North Pole Hoops’ mission. Because our basketball industry is still in it’s infancy, the community has a chance to cultivate strong attributes that secure longevity.

College & University Coaches

Being in direct contact with between 40-50 NCAA and USports Coaches on a weekly basis gives perspective. One too many times, they bring this topic up when asking about a prospect from the province.

“Yes, ok but his he tough enough? Can he handle the aggression in the A-10 conference?”

“Is he a dog though? Will we constantly need to be lighting a fire under him?”

These are the type of questions that are asked on calls with coaches who are looking for more information before offering a scholarship.

Coaches will never go public and make a statement about it because it can obviously directly impact their recruitment. Nonetheless it is something that is discussed in coaching circles.

The common denominator in these chats is coaches mentioning that the majority of players from the region are not competitive enough for their liking and have not been tested against elite competition or defenses.

This also suggests that this stereotype is being associated with the high school age groups and not the collegiate level in the province.

Transfers

Another indicator of the culture. Transfers. Without putting names out in order to protect the careers of prospects; there is an alarming amount of  B. C transfers that occur from the high school level to prep and then back.

Most of the time, the feedback from the prep coaches and D1  coaches that I’ve personally received on reasons for leaving is that the prospect “couldn’t hack it” or “they’re not tough enough,” or “they got homesick.”

Some of the most celebrated names in the last 5 years have gone through this process and it has continued to happen at the college levels as well.

 

 

Defense

When there is a lock down defender in the gym, they stand out like a sore thumb. Strong defenses often project toughness in a team or individual.

Prospects in B. C are skilled and have a good understanding for the game but often lack a strong defensive presence or care for it. It doesn’t bother a lot of players when they get scored on. It’s quickly brushed off and on to the offensive end for another possession.

Some of the games watched this year and in previous years were very tough to watch due to the lack of defense played.

Getting out of zones and into man defense will help from an accountability standpoint. It’s simply easier to call guys out on getting blown by or missing an assignment.

Charting missed blockouts, contains and closeouts could be the necessary management tool, arguably more important than all other stats in this environment.

Ribbons & Rewards

Excellence should be rewarded. However the last B. C High School Championship watched online and the one attended, there were awards from first place to last place. Everyone gets a pat on the back, everyone gets their name called out.

Awarding every place in a tournament attributes to lack of compete level. There is an overload of coddling happening that can be avoided to nurture toughness. The above example is a microcosm of what exists on a large scale.

The entitlement is seen in large doses. Its not an observation from an isolated situation, it’s a pattern.

On the topic of entitlement and coddling, let’s dive into a microcosm that shook up the basketball scene in British Columbia.

Hall of Fame Coach, Rich Goulet was essentially forced to step down as Head Coach of Pitt Meadows because of a complaint from parents that went to the administration because of their son’s lack of playing time and how coach demanded accountability.

The coaching community was in outrage over how Coach Goulet was let go after over 40 years of service to his community and to the the game of basketball. This type of a decision by the public school system enables more parents and kids to think that they can get away with weakness and mediocrity.

National View

Without mentioning the political factors to all the provinces, here are some key attributes that in some ways define Canada’s regions. We’ll go into further detail in a podcast at a later date.

Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and P. E. I is where we’ve seen the most grit and competitiveness, regardless of having a small population, resources or strong genetic pool.

The provinces listed above make up for what they lack with their toughness, compete level and developing I.Q. You’ll see multiple bodies hit the deck for loose balls. You’ll see a loud bench and usually an all in team.

The center points of Canada, so to speak, don’t get a pass.

Quebec has a terrific talent pool with great physicals and athleticism, but a chunk of the basketball population lacks skill and I. Q in the younger age groups. This is not an attack at coaches, rather just an observation.

The genetic pool is made up of a lot of length and natural leapers; in other words a ton of potential. Quebec is a place that might one day surpass Ontario.

This is a also a place where you’ll find a very proud basketball culture and high compete level, with scrappy players and a rowdy crowd.

Ontario acts like the end all be all, but there are a lot of problems there as well. While Ontario is the most successful in the grand picture, this does not mean that the province has close to maximized. The community within this province is just starting to find ways to work in unison to continue improving the quality of games especially at the club level.

As we travel west to Manitoba, this is one of the places where AAU/club hasn’t taken over and the provincial programming has been outstanding in player development and getting buy in from the province at large. With a much smaller population than the basketball meccas in Canada, it is more controllable and can allow for sustainable growth.

Saskatchewan is a really backward province for the most part. There doesn’t seem to be a willingness to evolve from the powers that be. This is the case at the school and provincial levels. There’s a lot of people trying to do good things to grow the game but kids and their parents are being pulled from all angles.

Alberta, as we’ve always said, is the sleeping giant. There is an absurd amount of raw athletes in the province who are just starting to take advantage of the tools and resources around them. The next five years is Alberta’s for the taking in my opinion.

On the far west in British Columbia, there are a lot of good things happening. This year there is synergy between the province’s top travel teams and the provincial team which will bode for a good showing at Nationals. This is one of the first steps that will lead to crushing the stigma. The elite can now meet with the elite, which will open doors in other environments for top competition.

It’s moving from being a participation sport to a place where club programs can create a competitive playing field. Between going to Seattle, Los Angeles, or Las Vegas to play, B. C teams and players barely compete against each other outside of high school.

 

 

Interview 5-10 people

Call Jamie Oei, Doug Plumb, Joey Haywood, look up other top influencers with toughness.

 

Doug Eberhardt respond to money making –

Steve Hanson – NCAA coach

Joe Enveldson

Howard Kelsey

Great Upside in the B. C basketball community

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