NCAA Final Four dotted with tremendous young Canadian women

This is something of a fitting end to a month when we’ve celebrated women in sports, and particularly in the basketball.

I think for the first time ever – I haven’t done extensive research but my mind’s pretty sharp in these matters and if I’m wrong, sue me – there will be a Canadian woman on every team in the NCAA Final Four.

You’ve got Pickering’s Shaina Pellington at Arizona, Kingston’s Aaliyah Edwards at Connecticut, Mississauga’s Laeticia Amihere at South Carolina and Toronto’s Alyssa Jerome at Stanford who will all be chasing a national championship in San Antonio on the weekend.

I know there’s been lots of crowing, rightfully so, about the number of Canadian men who play NCAA basketball but if you want to talk about players who have significant impacts on top notch programs, those four young women have to be at the top of the list right now.

Arizona might be the outlier but those are historically outstanding programs, perennial winners, and to have the Canadian women so integral to this year’s success speaks to the tremendous depth of talent in these parts.

I’ve always held that, if at all possible and I understand it’s not always that way, young Canadians should stay at home rather than just be grist for the mill and deep depth pieces on some nondescript programs. It would enhances the university and college programs here and, believe me, if the players were good enough to take their careers to the next stage, they’d be found here rather than in some mid-level program in the States.

But …

These four are in great schools with great programs, enjoying great success and gaining valuable life lessons.

You can’t help but be happy with them.

And you can’t help but be happy for basketball as a whole in the country; the men have had more than their share of the attention these past few years but as the women are showing, the depth of talent is at the very least equal.

Check out the games, I bet you won’t be sorry and it’ll give you a leg up on your pals for when they are big-timers in the national team system.

I’m pretty sure you might have questions even before the Raptors play tonight and I’m pretty sure I can manufacture answers to them.

All you’ve got to do to start the process is click on askdoug@thestar.ca and type what’s on your mind and I’ll get around to typing what’s on my mind before we gather here Sunday morning.

Warning: You try some cockamamie April Fool’s Joke this year, I’m going to have my people hunt you down.

And I have people.

The Raptors took yesterday off following the back-to-back and got to enjoy a morning in Detroit and an evening in Oklahoma City and, yep, the life of a pro athlete is absolutely glamourous.

That gave me a chance to write this and to point this out, as counter-intuitive as it sounds:

The season is not in the toilet.

Yet.

It’s definitely circling the drain but if you look at the next 11 games there’s still a chance to make some noise and, as I mentioned, if this year does turn out to be about development and learning how to lead and getting tougher, there’s not much better than having to scratch and claw just to make it into the playoffs.

And nothing’s more important than getting there and living it.

Plus, maybe I get to go to Tampa and on the road for a while.

Finally, a digression.

Things I Wish For, Vol. 2,824,916

Less blame, more leadership.

Paid sick days.

A full and very public, independent accounting and explanation of how every dime the province has received from the federal government has been spent – any why it hasn’t been if it hasn’t been — and a promise to press for more.

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The iron ring around our seniors instead of the paper mache crap we’ve had.

A moratorium on rental evictions.

A strict enforcement on capacities for all open businesses with those capacities based on either square footage or fire marshal’s codes.

Tax cuts, rebates, forgiveness for small businesses forced to close for any length of time.

A sensible education plan.
Less finger-pointing, more decision-making.

And all that comes without even delving into the problems with the vaccination process that is so utterly messed up – put restaurant workers higher on the list — it’s almost incomprehensible.

Look, here’s the deal, as I was telling friends yesterday.

I’m as apolitical as it gets and believe the majority of politicians are interested in obtaining power and never relinquishing it and doing whatever it takes to insure that. I think all politics is local.

That said, the lack of decisive leadership in this province scares me. I get that it’s tough and unprecedented and very, very, very hard. But that’s what we need leadership for, to steer us through these tough and unprecedented and very, very, very hard times.

What we’re getting is fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants stuff, a lack of reliance on true science that borders on the criminal and grandstanding politicians who spend far too much time puffing themselves up rather than leading.

It bothers me. It really does. We expect more. We deserve more.

If there is another thing I hope for out of all of this, and the cost has been far too great to get it:

We, all of us, need to pay far, far more attention to elections, to the men and women who ask us for votes. We need to ask hard questions and demand thoughtful answers before we give them the power they crave.

I have been as guilty as many as taking elections for granted, to see a familiar name and put an X next to it, to vote along party lines without truly investigating what those parties stand for at the moment.

Those days are over for me. I hope they are over for you, as well.

If there is not a record turnout at the polls the next time we vote for any level of government, shame on us.

G. Gordon Liddy. Man, that dude was ruthless.

RIP.

TORONTO STAR