Canada’s senior women’s basketball looks at Hamilton trio

Shona Thorburn at the 2012 London Olympics (Photo: COC/Jason Random)

Shona Thorburn at the 2012 London Olympics (Photo: COC/Jason Random)

Three players from Hamilton have earned invitations to Canada Basketball’s Senior Women’s National Team (SWNT) tryouts. With 26 other invitees, guards Shona Thorburn, playing in France, Kia Nurse from St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School, and Karly Roser, who played at Northwestern University in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, will join the Senior Women’s National Team staff and Canada Basketball personnel at McMaster University’s David Braley Athletic Centre for the May 17-19 tryout.

Milton’s Kayla Alexander, who was a centre for Syracuse in the NCAA, also drew the attention of the senior team staff to get an invitation to the tryouts. Along with head coach and Dundas native Lisa Thomaidis, they give the group a strong Hamilton and area presence.

The SWNT is coming off a very successful season having played against several of the best teams around the globe. On Canada Day, the team qualified for the London Olympic Games through a thrilling 71-63 victory over Japan at the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women. The victory paved the way for Team Canada’s return to the Olympic stage following a 12-year absence.

At the London Games, the SWNT showed determination and resolve in two hard-fought victories over host Great Britain and a strong Brazilian team. Their three single-digit losses in group-play came against the strongest squads in London: France would capture the silver medal, Australia took home the bronze and Team Russia finished fourth.

The Canadians’ run at the Games came to a close when they took-on eventual Gold-medalists Team USA in a quarter-final match-up. The show of skill and the strength of character that Team Canada displayed at the Games endeared them to basketball fans across the nation.

At the helm of the program will be a familiar face in an unfamiliar role. After 11 years as head coach of the SWNT, Surrey, B.C. native Allison McNeill retired from the program last December. Long-time SWNT assistant coach Thomaidis was named the new head coach in March after Canada Basketball’s thorough search for the right individual to build upon McNeill’s success. In the end, she proved to be the leader they needed and the voice they wanted.

The 29 tryout invitees will feature both new and familiar faces as the SWNT comes together under the guidance of new leadership. The challenge for Thomaidis and her coaching staff will be to find the right blend of veteran leadership and youth to fulfill their vision of Team Canada.

The first test for the 2013 edition of the team will come in the form of an exhibition series as the SWNT travels to Prague to face the Czech Republic National Team. The team’s preparatory summer tour will span the globe with tournaments in Serbia, France, China and Brazil featuring some of the best teams in the world. The busy summer season will build toward the 2013 FIBA Americas Championships as the team begins its journey to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

In addition to Alexander, Nurse, and Roser, the tryout invitees are:

Natalie Achonwa, forward, Guelph, Notre Dame (NCAA).
Miranda Ayim, forward, London, Ont., Orduspor (Turkey).
Janelle Bekkering, forward, Taber, Alta., BBC Kangoeroes-B (Belgium).
Krysten Boogaard, centre, Regina, Sask., training in Canada.
Justine Colley, guard, East Preston, N.S., St. Mary’s (CIS).
Nirra Fields, guard, Montreal, UCLA (NCAA).
Ruth Hamblin, centre, Houston, B.C., Oregon State (NCAA).
Kalisha Keane, forward, Ajax, Ont., training in Canada.
Miah-Marie Langlois, guard, Windsor, Ont., Windsor (CIS).
Lizanne Murphy, forward, Beaconsfield, Que., Aix-en-Provence (France).
Krista Phillips, centre, Saskatoon, Dandenong (Australia).
Courtnay Pilypaitis, guard, Orleans, Ont., training in the U.S.
Katherine Plouffe, forward, Edmonton, Marquette (NCAA).
Michelle Plouffe, forward, Edmonton, Utah (NCAA).
Emily Potter, forward, Winnipeg, Glenlawn Collegiate.
Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, forward, Vernon, B.C., Simon Fraser (NCAA-2).
Kendell Ross, forward, Sarnia, Ont., training in USA.
Stephany Skrba, forward, Thornhill, Ont., Bourges (France).
Kim Smith, guard, Mission, B.C., Tarbes (France).
Alisha Tatham, guard, Brampton, Ont., Basel (Switzerland).
Tamara Tatham, forward, Brampton, Halle (Germany).
Jamie Weisner, guard, Clarkston, Wash., Oregon State (NCAA).
Taryn Wicijowski, forward, Regina, Utah (NCAA).
Korissa Williams, guard, Amherstburg, Ont., Windsor (CIS).
Emma Wolfram, forward, Kamloops, B.C., South Kamloops Senior Secondary.