Many have offered up their thoughts on what should be done to improve the state of Canadian university/collegiate game, this time around, former national team member, head coach and University of Victoria Vikes star Ken Shields discusses how the CIS can stop all of Canada's top athletes from going down south to the NCAA, the Canadian national team and more.
Mr. Shields offers up some good pointers, however using strategies that worked in the 70's and 80's ain't gonna cut it either.
What are your major concerns with CIS Men’s basketball right now?
The biggest thing is that 88 of our very best players don’t play in Canada, and this is just the number in Division One schools. It’s reflected in the number of players that will play for Canada. Our national team is made up of all out-of-country players, there’s been a precipitous drop-off of CIS players on our national teams.
In the 1984 Olympics, out of 24 players [on the men’s and women’s basketball teams], 14 were CIS-trained, both teams finished fourth in the Olympics, the standard of play was high … Last year, at the World Qualifying Championships, the men’s team had one — Aaron Doornekamp. In my view, this is a very serious problem.
Can the CIS compete with the NCAA for top Canadian basketball players?
[It can] if it focuses on athlete development. We need … a development program that will give you a better chance to develop your maximum potential than the NCAA, because the NCAA is hugely restricted in contact hours with the coach. There are limits to the number of hours you can have contact with an athlete. In the summer, it’s two hours per week. The focus can’t be in the gym with the athletes — coaches can’t go in the gym, they can’t do individual work.
The NCAA isn’t trying to develop players to maximum because restrictions don’t allow it. So, why we don’t have a better development opportunity in Canada? We need to have a better-developed system and a better-funded system in our own country in select CIS sports. Unless you have comparable or better programs, the athletes will choose to leave our country.
The top basketball players go to the U.S. before they even finish high school. Is that the CIS’s fault?
I can speak for British Columbia, where there has been a great erosion in high school basketball because of fewer teacher-coaches. Across the country, coaching-development programs have slipped. Most of our basketball is played in the school system and yet we don’t have a systematic way to train coaches, which are the lifeblood of the system.
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