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Carly Clarke Contemplates Cadettes’ Fate In World Championships



As the 2012 Canadian CadetteU17 team makes last minute preparations before they take on the FIBA World Championships beginning August 17, we managed to catch up with their Head Coach, Carly Clarke at their Training Camp in Barrie, Ontario, to get her take on the team’s changes since last summer, bright spots and her expectations.

With the inclusion of the Canadian Senior Women’s Team in the Olympics for the first time in over a decade, an undefeated round robin last year by the Juniors in their World Championships and a Bronze medal earned by the Cadette team last summer in the Cadette FIBA Americas tournament, one would conclude that the Canadian female game is on the rise. Further confirmation has been given by FIBA, who has ranked the Canadian Female, Under-19 movement at Fourth in the World.

“I think the Junior team over the past two or three World championships have really proven themselves. They’ve come close to medalling,” says Carly Clarke. “I think they came fourth a couple of years ago, they went thought the round robin last year, and I think, the junior team’s results are really being recognized around the world.”

Being amongst the all around better results is not a bad position to be in. But, with those very positive results, expectations are high as the Cadettes get set to tip off. But, Clarke certainly does not want to get ahead of herself or the team, realizing some of the inherent program challenges.

“I think our Cadette group really has to prove ourselves. There’s only been one world Championship and the previous team finished 11th and there’s lots of learning to go on with this age group as we don’t have a centralized program anymore like a lot of other countries do, so she have to train and come together in a shorter amount of time.”

But, the reality is that they were able to get through the challenges of last year. And with that added year, wounds were able to heal, and targeted adjustments were made to the roster.

“There’s changes to a team every year, and year to year. Several players were either out with injury last year, or hadn’t necessarily been identified by Canada basketball,” says Clarke. “I think we’re far more versatile and much deeper with being able to stay in pressure as different kids and different lineups get on the floor, and do a few different things offensively as well at different points of attack.”

There are a couple of new players Coach Clarke and her Coaching staff will look to draw on those points of interest.

“It’s great to have Shay Colley and Kayla Davis with us this year. It gives us a bit more athleticism at the Guard spot. And, theyre getting after it in practice which is really, really fun to see. And, were incredibly long and athletic at pretty much every position which is super exciting to see. It’s always tough to make changes, but we’re very pleased with the group of twelve we have this year.”

This Canadian squad is extremely robust at the Guard position with the athleticism Clarke speaks of. And with the returning leadership of Kia Nurse at that spot, moving the ball up the court with pace will not be a shortcoming of the team.

“I think that kids like Kia Nurse had a great tournament at our qualifiers last year. She’s certainly a leader on our team and has put an incredible amount of work in to improve this year. We’ll be looking to her for some scoring, but also to distribute the basketball. And as a team, her in particular, play some tough defense.

To compliment the Guards, height will not be a problem. The roster boasts an impressive six players 6’2″ or taller. All of which is great for having different individuals contributing on different days.

“We have some great size, and is sort of a point of emphasis this year,” says Clarke with a smile from ear to ear, “so, we’re really focused on getting the ball inside. Emma Wolfram has had some great experiences and has been incredibly consistent. So, we’ll be looking on her to help us with some scoring and a leadership role, and I think that everyone else will follow.”

Along with the length inside of Wolfram, Emily Potter brings Rebounding abilities and Saicha Grant-Allen brings athleticism and a vertical that will earn her quite a few blocked shots.

And, to accompany the length, Clarke has sharpshooter on the Wings at her disposal that will enable the team to stretch defenses. The Wings this year, according to Clarke, will be shooting the ball better than last year.

“Hannah Jardine is shooting the ball very, very well, which is exciting to see. We have the Gourdreau twins who are so long and athletic defensively. And it’s exciting to have Christina Buttenham here too, who can shoot the ball as well. That’s where we’re much improved. We’re a bigger threat from the perimeter and outside scoring.”

Although I could get a sense that this Cadette Coach is pleased with her team, she understandably stayed reserved when considering how she feels her team will fare.

“It’s really tough to say. We don’t know a ton about our opposition,” Clark said. “Basically we know the U.S. is strong. We saw a very talented Brazil team last year. We’re trying to find out about our European and other competition across the ocean.”

So for now, the focus is on taking care of the business they can control: Tightening their plays; Increasing the intensity of their practices; Solidifying their mechanics. All with the hopes of leaving an indelible Canadian mark on the basketball world, now and towards the future.

“I think the most important thing from us as a coaching perspective is that we get to prepare right now while our senior team is competing in the Olympics, and, it’s so much fun to work with our future Olympians and watch games together and instill that goal on these individuals to want to be there in 2016, 2020 or 2024. But I think we’re capable of making some noise, but as I mentioned before, we’re not going to tall too much about outcome or results, but really focus on the process and I think we’ll be pleased and excited with what happens and where Canada Basketball will continue to move in the future.

Click here for more stories on the Canadians’ run in the Cadette U17 FIBA World Championships