Practice has officially begun in the NCAA and the Can Ball Report is right on it. Allow us to reintroduce ourselves in this post as a set of morbidly obsessive information junkies that look to bring you the best content for the coming NCAA basketball season. We'll look to be there for the whole ride from first tip off to one shinning moment in March.
Hear ye, hear ye. The season has changed. The leaves are slowly turning color. The little creatures are scrambling for stores for the impending winter. Outside of the dip in temps all around yesterday marked the beginning of my favorite time of the year: the official start of the NCAA college basketball season.
Now don’t think I don’t like the Canadian college basketball scene because I do. I love watching any ball and honestly Canadian college and university ball is pretty fun to watch, men or women. But I have always loved watching NCAA basketball since I was a kid. Ever since a guy in my neighborhood we used to call Ducky got a scholarship to St. John’s, I was hooked.
Yesterday was the official start of the college basketball season south of the border which meant that all teams were on their home floors for Midnight Madness celebration/practice. Every team is now allowed to officially gear up for the coming season. Working towards that big step to their conference tourneys and possibly the Big Dance where they hope to find their One Shinning Moment.
What the first official practice means for us, the fans, is that we can begin to cheer for our teams again. In my case, it means that I can begin to cheer on our Canadian boys who have the privilege of playing on a scholarship at any NCAA school.
So let me rewind a little. Actually, let me rewind a lot.
I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid watching basketball I always rooted for a team. When it came down to it, I rooted for the team with the most gear in the local sporting goods store. I may be aging myself but in my early youth the teams to follow were Georgetown, Notre Dame, UNLV, Miami, Michigan and Syracuse. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing one of those teams on someone. Those teams were simply everywhere! I didn’t know a player on the teams then but I just knew I liked the gear. Georgetown had that crazy bulldog, Miami had that stork, Dame had that crazy leprechaun and the Runnin’ Rebels had a dude that looked like a character from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon. These were my teams.
But the older I got, I came to know who played on the teams and then other players that were on other teams. Pretty soon I stopped following a team and I started to follow the game. Team affiliation mattered a little less to me (though I will always have a soft spot for the Hoyas even if they torpedo a season like they did last year) as long as I knew who the players were. The game was meaning more to me so I followed IT instead of A team. The parts for me made more sense to watch and follow. It kept me open to other teams, other players, other things about the game that I would not have otherwise cared about before.
This enlightenment had me doing what I do best about everything I like: obsess about it. I started ingesting everything I could about the game and in doing so I found out that there were Canadian guys playing in the NCAA. Here is where it got really bad for me,. Well, really it got bad for my girlfriends at the time because I loved it. I would scour the pages of magazines and newspapers (since the internet wasn’t around then young'ns) for any news on Canadians playing down south. To this day, that is what I still do until the start of the NCAA season.
And that is what I, through the Can Ball Report, will be doing for the next six months.
This season I, actually we, will be looking to share that near obsessive compulsion with you, the readers. If you are on this site, it means that you are a basketball fan. If you are reading this post, it means that you have an interest in the Canadian basketball scene that doesn’t necessarily start with the words “Raptors” or “NBA” or the names Bosh, Calderon, Turk or DeRozan.
There are many success stories happening throughout the NCAA every year but you may rarely get to hear, see or read about it. That's doesn't exclude the CIS or CCAA either people. Let’s face it, the media coverage for basketball in the Great White North is a paltry to say the least unless you play at the Air Canada Center. That’s just the way it is right now. A lot of people don’t appreciate basketball the same way people who come to this website, or other like-minded sites, do. And because they don’t, the coverage is never complete or inclusive.
So what could you possibly be missing without any consistent NCAA basketball coverage on the major media outlets?
For starters that there were two players last year that won NCAA Freshman of the Year honors in tough conferences; that there was a player that led his team in scoring off the bench for the first ten games before being given the starting nod; that there was a team that had five Canuck ladies on the roster (now six this season) with two of them making an all conference first team for the third straight year. And there are many other stories in between them.
Now you may wonder why someone would put all this work upon himself. Well here's why.
One of my favorite basketball memories was watching Alberta Golden Bears head coach Greg Francis playing his final college game in the NCAA Tournament in ’98. I sat on the edge of my couch for the first 30 minutes of Fairfield vs. UNC as Francis drained three after three against the Tar Heels’ zone over a helpless Limp Carter (yup that same guy) before the Heels pulled away for good. Knowing that a Canadian kid from a small school in Toronto was lighting up some of the best players in the NCAA gave me a sense of pride and joy and I told Coach Francis as much when I first interviewed him two years ago. It was almost like he was shooting for me, raining on them blasted Tar Heels for me-a basketball loving Canadian kid. It's a great feeling and I want to share that feeling with you.
This season will be a big one in NCAA for quite a few of our fellow countrymen. Some will take on bigger roles with their teams and some are predicted to be major players in their respective conferences. Others are just getting their feet wet in a bigger roundball pool and may be the next big whatever. Either way, the Can Ball Report looks to give you news, scoops, scores and highlights of the coming season. We have our radars on and are going to give you the best coverage of the game within the game. Check back regularly and we’ll be providing the best coverage of our Can Ballers for you.
So run out, tell a friend, book mark us on your homepage thingy, add us on Twitter (canballreport that is) but just keep checking back. We will look to enhance your basketball coverage for the coming season and hopefully not just enlighten you to the talent that this country is exporting South, but also have you burn with pride that there is a player shooting the lights out for you somewhere.
So until the first tip off, back to something Iverson doesn't do, practice.