ComplexCon returns to Long Beach Nov. 6 - 7 with hosts J. Balvin and Kristen Noel Crawley, performances by A$AP Rocky and Turnstile, and more shopping and drops.
Secure your spot while tickets last!
After Canada’s women’s team
beat trounced the United States to claim gold at the Pan-Am Games Monday night – a day after Canada won gold in baseball against, you guessed it, the Americans – Deadspin jokingly tried to play it off like no big deal.
Doesn’t mean anything. Nothing to see here. The 33-5-3 Kia Nurse, who started almost all season for the NCAA Champion UConn Huskies, posted in leading the way for the Canadian side? Whatevs.
Then on Tuesday night, the men’s team went out and dominated the Dominican Republic, coasting to a 105-88 win in their opening game of the competition. Former first-overall pick Anthony Bennett posted a 15 and 10 double-double. Orlando Magic forward Andrew Nicholson had 14 points in 18 minutes. Brady Heslip led the way with 24 off the bench.
There will be some that are inclined to play off success at the Pan-Am Games as not a big enough competition to really gauge where the Canadian sides stand in terms of the overall hoops hierarchy. While that may be fair, it would also be mistake not to recognize that the first nation of hockey is quickly becoming really, really good at basketball too.
The women’s team cruised all tournament and Nurse has a chance to develop into one of the best players in the world. Before you dismiss that as home-team hyperbole, understand that she plays for the best program in the nation, was the top freshman in her conference last year and comes from a family of athletes. She’ll be at the helm of this squad for a long time and that’s a very good thing.
As for the men, there is no room for debate: this team is on the rise. Back in 2000, there were two NBA players on the men’s national team, Steve Nash and Todd MacCulloch. When the full squad is assembled – and this team at the Pan-Ams isn’t the full squad – NBA players will occupy every slots, including eight first-round draft picks.
Andrew Wiggins is coming off a Rookie of the Year season and looks like a perennial All Star. Tristan Thompson showed out in the NBA Playoffs, rebounding like a mad man as the Cleveland Cavaliers marched to the Finals minus Kevin Love and down Kyrie Irving against Golden State. They’ll be the cornerstones, with new Raptor Cory Joseph running point.
Then there is the next wave of emerging Canadians that are poised to make an impact – guys like Trey Lyles, who was selected 12th overall by the Utah Jazz, and Jamal Murray, the Kentucky-bound guard who looked at home running with the grown folks Tuesday night. He’s expected to be a lottery pick next year should he take the “one-and-done” approach to his NCAA career.
Add in guys like Nicholson, Bennett, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Ennis and Nik Stauskas and you’ve got the start of something interesting, especially in the international game where things are a little more open and free flowing. That’s a far cry from the 2000 squad that featured Nash and a bunch of dudes you’d never heard of before.
With that improved roster comes increased expectations, including qualifying for the next Olympics and not just being doormats should they get there, but the fact that smart basketball people now look at Canada as a team on the come-up is a big step forward.