With the Senior Women's National Team beginning their road to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament last night, Can Ball Ray weighs in on the idea of a Senior Women's "B" Team and what that would mean for the women's player pool ...
The Senior Women National Team are looking like they have a good shot at possibly qualifying for this summer's Olympics in London and that has largely to do with a great pool of talented female players. This weekend is the tune up with China in BC for the 16 ballers that will make up the official team.
But there is another Senior Women's team that will be playing overseas this summer as well. This second team, made up primarily of CIS and NCAA players, is being called the Senior Women's "B" Team.
Kind of like a junior varsity team of sorts, Canada Basketball has decided to make the effort to create a team of players that could have made a contribution to the SWNT team and sent them to Europe to play as a separate unit in some exhibition games this summer in Montenegro and Belgium.
Personally, I like the idea.
I like the idea of a team of potential National Team players heading off to play in against other teams as a form of training is an excellent idea.
How else would you be able to better prepare them if they were to make the jump to the varsity? You get them together, you have them train together, you have them travel and play games together. You have them experience being on the varsity team as much as possible by simulating as much as they would have to go through being on the varsity team.
This is something that the US has done in the junior ranks for some time, primarily because their pool of talent is so vast and it helps to have these type of situation, and I think this is something that can work for Canada.
This model addresses two very important issues that you have when you have players playing in such different geographical regions: uniform training and building cohesion amongst strangers.
If you run down the list of players on the Senior "B" Team, they all play at schools that cross all the time zones of North America right from St. Mary's in Halifax to Marquette in Milwaukee to Utah in Salt Lake City to UBC in Vancouver. Their contact with each other could be minimal and getting together is definitely not regular.
Add to that the fact that the majority of these athletes may be spending almost all year on campus either in class or training with their teams making getting together to train as a National Program.
This Senior "B" Team allows for some of the players that may not be playing/training through the off season to get some work in while also getting everyone more familiar with each other and with the systems that the Senior Programs use. The best part is that it creates a larger pool of players with international playing experience. And having a larger pool of players to select from to replace injured, unavailable or aging players is always a bonus.
The tertiary benefit of the "B" Team is that it gives the up and coming players something to play for. Not everyone will play in the varsity team, that's a fact. But this junior varsity edition gives those coming down the pipe a team to play on to be a goal or a reward of sorts for making it this far in the progressive steps up the ladder. It's almost like the consolation prize that has you playing great teams in foreign countries as a form or training. Shoot, give me that boobie prize any day instead of a ribbon.
This isn't necessarily a new thing for Canada Basketball. This set up reminds me of the Men's Development Team that Canada Basketball has sent out to Europe to compete in the last two summers leading up to the major FIBA events. Those teams were slightly different in that they went out to compete in tournaments to help develop players for the pool. The Development Team also served as a further audition for the Senior Men's Team that would play usually after these teams would play.
The Senior Women's Team seems pretty set with their 16 so I'm not anticipating any of these ladies making a move up from the "B" to "A" squad but these players will be working like they are on the varsity. One of them could be on the big team for the next big run so getting them in the same environment only makes sense.
Long live the "B" Team.
The Senior Women's National Team take on China again for game two of their three game set before flying to Toronto tonight. They'll be looking to go 2-0 tonight. If you can't make it out to the game you can check it out one www.sportscanada.tv. Game time is at 7:00 PST.