The 2013-2014 season promises to be exciting for Ottawa basketball fans. The introduction of professional basketball with the Ottawa SkyHawks, the return of the CIS Final 8 and Carleton University seeking their 10th CIS championship will all draw attention to basketball in Ottawa.
The Canadian Tire Centre’s newest tenant and NBL Canada’s newest franchise, the Ottawa SkyHawks have promised to deliver “a championship-caliber team to the nation’s capital and doing so with a strong Canadian presence”. Their first step towards delivering on that commitment, going all-Canadian in the draft, was to select Toronto-native Alex “Superman” Johnson first overall and followed-up by drafting two Ottawa natives, Manock Lual and Eric Kibi. In total 6 of the 12 players confirmed to attend the training camp is Canadian, all with NCAA division 1 or professional experience. Having delivered on the Canadian presence, the SkyHawks journey towards delivering a championship-caliber team will begin with their home and season opener against the Windsor Express on November 2nd in a city that is used to championship basketball.
The Carleton Ravens have built a legacy of high-caliber basketball in the nation’s capital. The 9-time national champions appear set to make it an even ten and made a clear statement in the pre-season defeating three Division 1 NCAA opponents, Towson, Texas Christian and Wisconsin. They fell just short of sweeping the series in a nail-biting overtime loss to the third ranked Syracuse Orange proving they’re ready to go toe-to-toe with the best.
The Ravens biggest challenge in obtaining their 10th title may come from their cross-town rivals the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees. The Gee-Gees were ranked third going into last season’s CIS finals, and took their first ever CIS medal winning the Bronze in an overtime thriller over the Acadia Axemen. If the team can build on last-season’s success, we could be looking at an all-Ottawa fight for CIS gold.
If the cross-town rivals do find themselves competing for the gold, they will do so at home at the Canadian Tire Centre that, once again, will host the CIS Men’s Final 8. The Gee-Gees and Ravens won’t be the only ones with their eyes on the championship. While Carleton is guaranteed a berth in the final 8 as the host team, Ottawa will need to earn their spot. Even if they do, 6 other teams will be competing to dethrone Carleton and claim the championship.
The CIS excitement doesn’t end there, as Carleton University and Ottawa University women’s teams earned Silver and Bronze respectively during last season’s OUA playoffs, earning both teams a trip to their CIS Final 8. Both teams faltered during the quarter-finals. The women at both schools will be looking to improve on those performances and earn medals of their own.
If professional basketball and CIS aren’t enough to feed your basketball cravings, youth basketball is alive and well in the capital with local clubs playing in the EOBA and OBA. High school basketball will be returning to full capacity after last season’s work action shutdown many basketball programs. Rounding out the youth basketball offerings, the Ottawa Guardsmen and Ottawa Youth Basketball Academy will participate in the Canadian Youth Basketball League’s inaugural season and Ottawa will host the CYBL championships in June.
As the Carleton Ravens thrive to assert their CIS dominance, the Ottawa SkyHawks will have to battle to win games and earn the fan following they will need to survive. With all these options, Ottawa basketball fans shouldn’t have any difficulty keeping themselves busy this season.
London Lightning guard Charles Boozer lives in his famous brother’s shadow
If you know anything about London Lightning guard Charles Boozer, it’s likely that he’s the younger brother of Carlos, the former NBA All-Star, Olympic gold medalist and Duke standout.
Carlos, by far the more famous of the two, played more than 800 NBA games with Cleveland, Utah, Chicago and the L.A. Lakers before retiring in 2015.
The younger Boozer showed flashes of promise in college at Iowa State, but suffered an ACL tear as a junior in 2010 and has bounced around minor leagues since then.
“He’s a combo guard who can set up his teammates and score,” his Carlos told the Chicago Tribune in 2014, when Charles played with the Windy City Bulls of the NBA G League.
“He’s a great defender, very athletic. And he has great wisdom.”
Now with London, at age 32, Charles will have what may be his final attempt at a sustainable pro career.
He was selected third overall in the 2018 National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC)’s Cape Breton Highlanders but reportedly pulled a muscle in the first week of training camp and was subsequently cut.
“We couldn’t see much of him, but he’s a great player,” Highlanders coach Bernardo Fitz-Gonzales told the Cape Breton Post at the time.
London coach Doug Plumb, a former star guard at the University of British Columbia, said the younger Boozer is now in the best shape of his life.
“Charles has worked extremely hard this off-season,” Plumb said in a statement.“He is a bigger powerful guard, can guard multiple positions on the court and has a versatile skill set.
“I’m looking forward to seeing his off-season work translate to the court and bring fire and tenacity every day.”
London has won four championships since the NBLC launched eight years ago, but exited in the first round of the playoffs last season.
They’ll rely in part on guard Xavier Moon, 2019 Player of the Year with the Edmonton Stingers of the Canadian Elite Basketball League, to help them return to form.
As he always has, Charles Boozer will try to make his mark while answering questions about his more famous older brother.
“I’m excited to put on the Lightning uniform and help elevate the tradition of excellence,” he said in a statement. “It’s going to be a special season.”
Carl English amazing 58-point effort sets NBL Canada scoring record
The return of long time fan favorite Carl English to Canada was definitely a moment not to be slept on.
English whose story is well chronicled has had an outstanding 15-year professional career across the top international leagues. A veteran member of Canada Senior Men’s National Team he decided to bring it full circle and concluded his storied career in his hometown province of St. Johns, Newfoundland.
When news broke that he was returning home it also meant that those same East Coast supporters who grew-up watching a young skinny grade ten kid would also get another opportunity to watch him once again showcase his game. English went from dropping 50-point games in high school to becoming only the third player from Newfoundland to play division one NCAA basketball.
On Saturday night, against the visiting Kitchen Waterloo Titans and with March Madness in full swing, the now 37 year-old English, delighted the fans once more with an incredible 58-point career-high performance to set the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC) scoring record. English connected on 17-of-33 shots, 13/14 free-throws and nailed an incredible 11-of-20 three-point attempts in 127-117 win at Mile One Centre.
The previous record was held by Moncton’s Devin Sweetney in 2013 against the defunct Montreal Jazz.
English currently leads the NBLC in scoring in scoring at 25 points per game, shooting 44% from the floor and 38.5 from the outside, he also averages 4.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and has the St. John Edge eyeing a deep playoff run and potential championship.