TORONTO, Ont. — The month of July is a busy time for Canada Basketball.
Several Canadian teams are competing around the World during the month of July. From both the Men’s and Women’s Under-19 programs competing for gold to the Canadian women’s team that will compete at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, it’s an exciting time for the game of basketball in Canada.
In Napoli, Italy, the 2019 FISU Summer Universiade will take place from July 3-14, and basketball is one of the 12 sports that Canada will be competing in. As a nation, Canada finished 16th at the 2017 FISU Summer Universiade in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei with 13 medals (four gold, five silver, four bronze).
On the hardwood, Canada has assembled a talented women’s basketball team that will look to bring home a medal. In total, 11 student-athletes will represent the nation on their quest for gold. With a talented mix of veterans and younger players alike, Canada has a healthy balance that should bode well for them over the 11-day event in Napoli.
Here’s a look at the women’s basketball team and what they bring to the court.
Megan Ahlstrom (Calgary, Alta.; Saskatchewan Huskies)
This past season, Ahlstrom was one of the veterans on a talented Saskatchewan team that advanced to the National Championships in Toronto. The Calgary native averaged 8.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest during Canada West play for the Huskies. Ahlstrom shot 49.2% from the floor, 36.0% from three-point range, and 84.6% from the free throw line. Ahlstrom will bring with her a veteran presence for Team Canada at the FISU Summer Universiade, and her ability to score at all three levels will give the team an offensive boost.
Jama Bin-Edward (Waterloo, Ont.; Ryerson Rams)
All season long, the Ryerson Rams were one of the OUA’s most balanced teams. They had seven different players average at least 6.6 points per game in the regular season. The Rams also have one of the league’s brightest stars, in forward Jama Bin-Edward. The native of Waterloo, Ont. just finished her second season with the Rams, and there’s no telling how high her ceiling is as her career continues to unfold. Bin-Edward averaged 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season for the Rams while shooting over 40% from the field. As one of the younger players on Canada’s roster for the FISU Summer Unviersiade, the experience that Bin-Edward will gain is a win in itself. Competing against some of the top student-athletes from around the World will help her prepare for a big season in 2019-20.
Hannah Brown (North Sydney, N.S.; Cape Breton Capers)
With each passing game, it seemed as though nobody could contain Hannah Brown, and she was always posting big numbers throughout the year. The Cape Breton star led all of U Sports in scoring last season, posting an average of 26.3 points per game to help the Capers secure first place in the regular season AUS standings. Brown saw action in all 20 games for the Capers in the regular season, and she scored at least 14 points in all of them. Only once did she fail to score 20+ points, and that was her 14-point effort against the UNB Reds back on January 12th. Brown recorded 15 double-doubles over those 20 games, and she recorded at least seven rebounds in each game to go along with her consistent scoring.
Keylyn Filewich (Winnipeg, Man.; UBC Thunderbirds)
Forward Keylyn Filewich was one of the nation’s top forwards this past season for the UBC Thunderbirds, and now the veteran big will look to help lead Team Canada to a win at the FISU Summer Universiade in Napoli. Filewich was highly effective on both ends of the court in 2018-19, shooting 60.3% from the floor on offense while averaging a double-double with 18.4 points and 10.0 rebounds per contest. Including exhibition play and the regular season, Filewich recorded at least 10 points in all 27 games she played. Over that span, she posted 15 double-doubles.
Hilary Hanaka (Hamilton, Ont.; McMaster Marauders)
Hilary Hanaka is one of two members of the defending national champion McMaster Marauders to earn a spot on this year’s roster for Team Canada at the FISU Summer Universiade. Hanaka capped off her collegiate career with a National Championship with the Marauders, and she will be looking to add to her resume with a strong performance in Napoli. On offense, Hanaka is a threat to go off on any given night, evident by her 15 games with double-digit points throughout the regular season, seven of which saw the Hamilton native go for 20+ points.
Linnaea Harper (Newmarket, Ont.; McMaster Marauders)
Joining Hanaka from McMaster is fellow veteran Linnaea Harper. During the regular season in 2018-19, Harper was one of four players for the Marauders to average double-digit points per game. She ranked third on the team with an average of 14.0 points per contest on 40.3% shooting from the floor. Harper shot 87.5% (49-of-56) from the free throw line which was the third-best mark in the OUA during the regular season, while her 8.2 rebounds per game ranked fourth in the conference. Harper’s ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor gives Team Canada an advantage whenever she’s on the floor.
Sarah-Jane Marois (Quebec City, Que.; Laval Rouge et Or)
The Nan Copp Award Winner will be in Team Canada’s lineup as Laval’s Sarah-Jane Marois will suit up for Team Canada. At the 2019 U Sports Final Eight National Championships, Marois was named the U Sports Women’s Basketball Player of the Year for her efforts over the course of the year. Marois was a big reason why the Rouge et Or held down the No. 1 ranking in Canada for as long as they did last season. En route to a silver medal at Nationals, Marois posted an average of 13.0 points per game while shooting 44.8% from the field in RSEQ play.
Erin McIntosh (Calgary, Alta.; Calgary Dinos)
Calgary forward Erin McIntosh gives Team Canada yet another talented, veteran forward in what will be a strong rotation at the Summer Universiade. McIntosh recently completed her senior season with the Dinos, and she was a key cog in the team’s success over the course of her career. In 2018-19, McIntosh averaged a team-best 15.4 points per game on over 47% shooting from the field. In fact, McIntosh was the only player to average double-digit points for Calgary during the regular season. Add in her 6.8 rebounds, plus her ability to hit shots from long range with a high level of consistency (41.4%), McIntosh is yet another weapon at the disposal of Head Coach Michele Belanger.
Angela Ribarich (Toronto, Ont.; Ottawa Gee-Gees)
The talent of the starting five for the Gee-Gees was well-documented last season. All five of their regular starters averaged double-digit points per game, making them one of the better starting units in the country. In the middle, Ottawa was anchored by one of the best centers in the country in Angela Ribarich. The native of Toronto averaged 11.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per contest while shooting an effective 54.8% from the field. At 6’5”, Ribarich gives Team Canada a size advantage inside against most teams, and her ability to grab rebounds and disrupt shots on the defensive ends will force teams to hit their shots from outside the paint in order to score.
Kyla Shand (Saskatoon, Sask.; Saskatchewan Huskies)
Joining Ahlstrom from the Saskatchewan Huskies will be forward Kyla Shand. The Saskatoon native just completed her second year with the team in 2018-19, and she has the look of a player to keep an eye on in the Canada West over the next couple of seasons. As a second-year player, Shand averaged 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per contest, primarily in a reserve role. Over her 19 league appearances, Shand averaged 14.2 minutes per night. Per 40 minutes, Shand’s point per game average increased to 19.3, a number which ranked 22nd in the Canada West last season.
Jayda Veinot (Port Williams, N.S.; Acadia Axewomen)
The 2018-19 season may have been her first year of play in the AUS, but you could never tell from the way Jayda Veinot performed over the course of the year. The wing from Port Williams, Nova Scotia ranked seventh in the conference in scoring, averaging an even 15.0 points per contest for the Axewomen, and she helped Acadia find momentum at the right time and turn that into a spot at the 2019 National Championships in Toronto. Effective from all areas of the floor on offense, Veinot gives Team Canada some youth while also proving that she can play with the best despite not having the same years of experience as others on the team.
Head Coach: Michele Belanger, Toronto Varsity Blues
Team Leader: Carrie Watts, UBC
Assistant Coach: Theresa Burns, McMaster
– T. Bennett