The big decision last week was what basketball event was I going to watch this past weekend. Should I head to Truro to take in the North Pole Hoops East Coast Showcase or go to Fredericton to catch the action at the new Richard J. Currie Center where UNB is hosting their annual Eric Garland basketball tournament. The decision….let’s do both!

The weekend started with a stop at the NSAC Athletic Center where Colter Simmonds and his NSAC Rams players hosted Phase 1 and North Poll Hoops for a three day combine and player identification tournament. On Friday night the staff from Phase 1 ran the 60 players in attendance through series of stations to capture information on each player. Info included standard items such as height, reach, vertical jump, endurance and core strength. There were also a couple of interesting drills that I’ve never seen before at a player combine. There was a hand speed station where the players performed Maravich type drills, a Mikan drill station (not sure what that measures) and a passing station.

The station the players seem to like the most was the one where the Phase 1 coaches used a series of progression footwork and ball-handling drills to teach the players a one-on-one move similar to when Iverson crosses over MJ back in the day.

On Saturday and Sunday the action switched to standard 5-on-5 full court competitions. The 60 players were divided into teams to form a standard six team tournament. During round robin play the players from the Nova Scotia U17 team dominated the action which wasn’t a surprise given they were the older, more experienced players plus the games were more like pick-ups games which really fits the playing style of guys like AJ Simmonds, Lorenzo Parker, Jayden Norden and Travis Adams. Sunday wrapped up with an All-Star game broadcast live on Click here to watch the replay of the game.

Unfortunately there were only a hand full of NB players at the Showcase; Erik Nissen (KVHS), Mark Graham (KVHS), Mike Armstrong (SJHS), Devon Bradbury (STM) and Costa Kolivas (RNS). Not sure why there wasn’t more NB players in attendance but I would guess the travel and conflicts with fall sports were major contributing factors. Although all played extremely well, only Erik and Mike were selected to participate in the All Star Game and are now ranked in the top 50 for their grad class Nationally. Congratulations to both. Well done.

Some other links

On Sunday I skipped the Showcase All Star game to head to Fredericton. I was looking forward to seeing the new Currie Center and the Carleton Ravens. I have watched Carleton play numerous times over the years but never live plus everyone has been telling me how fantastic the new Currie center is. Well, both lived up to advance billing.

The Ravens dominated the Garland tournament and the game on Sunday against the St. Mary’s Huskies was no different. Their team defense is something that can’t be fully appreciated until you see them up close. Every shot is challenged, post touches are few and far between, and coach Smart doesn’t tolerate even the smallest lapse in focus.

Although Carleton was head and shoulders above St. Marys, UNB and Laval, they have also had the luxury of playing nine games against NCAA opponents prior to coming to Fredericton while the other teams were playing their first games of the pre-season. I’m not sure any of these teams will challenge the defending champs for the National title but I’m sure each will be looking a lot sharper by the time the regular season begins.

As for the new Currie Center…wow. I was impressed. A big thank you goes out to Geoff Mabey who gave me the grand tour of the lower levels where they have their high performance labs, physio clinic, running track, weight room, practice courts and lots more. Can’t wait to play our Mill Rats games there on October 23.