My comments on Canada in Poland (and then a foolish rambling of my USA v.
Canada views) are as follows:
First of all, I think going to Poland for 3 days was kind of stupid. It's far
away, it's tough to get to (they had bus rides to and from Warsaw/Katowice),
it's FREEZING cold, and the food is not what you're used to at home (the hotel
was really nice and the food good, but for "top" athletes, it seems risky),
Garth was trying to stay away from American tape recorders and that was why
they were there. "We're preparing for something".
The first day the team looked altogether a mess. Jet lag, exhaustion, you name
it. For the second two days, they looked more alert, but they weren't a team.
Koskie had been starting for so long that it was weird to see Greves in there
and the middle couldn't hit off him. He couldn't find Gino outside either.
Koskie would come in and then the timing they'd adjusted to for Kent was wrong
Same problem with the outsides: the guys seemed to be used to Zurawsky's
mediocre passing and more powerful hitting, so when Gino was in they had to
adjust (he was getting WAY too many balls) and couldn't.
I think it was a poor mixing of the old and young, and also indicative of
Canada's up and down play.
I saw Canada in Florida's Jeep Cup and was impressed with the "new" middles.
Grapentine is big and solid and a pretty good blocker as long as the outside
set isn't too quick. I think he'll be good for them for a long time. He'll play
for the Spanish Champions League Team after this qualifier which should help
him round out his game and become a leader quickly. Spain is a good place for a
player to grow up a little. Brinkman was suprisingly effective as a hitter and
a good young blocker too. I'll be interested to see how good he gets once he
can get to Europe for a season too. The rest of the team seemed to be the same
as before and I didn't ever see them play to great in Florida.
I saw them again in Japan at the World Championships (only 2 games) and they
just never seem *** on the world level. Terry Martin, for example, can hit
a ball and seem huge, but then he'll shank a ball off the court, get blocked
straight down 3 times, and be out of it. I wonder if a big guy like his will
ever become consistent and *** at that level? Duerden is obviously the
real deal, but he was terrible in Poland (I thought maybe he was injured he was
so bad), and I don't think he's enough to carry that team to greatness. There
are too many sub-par (for International world class status) positions on
Canada's team. And, as I said before, I don't think they're deep enough to be
I know a lot of the guys so I don't like to name names, but I think you catch
As for the USA, I don't want to get overly e***d about them here (everyone's
entitled to their own opinions and I'm obviously biased toward the USA) but I
do think that an argument can be made for each position as they matchup vs.
I would pick Hoff and Millar over either of Canada's middles. I've already said
I like Canada's younger middles, and Haldane is obviously as good or better
than both of them, but I'd still pick Hoff and Millar (for both hitting and
blocking as well as Hoff for consistency and Millar for fire and jumpserve)
over any of them.
Lloy vs. Kent is interesting, but being a Bruin, the big setter gets my vote.
He's got enough experience (3 years in Japan and an Olympics, etc) and a great
jump serve. I also wonder about a player like Greves that doesn't stick with
the team year round. I know their are political/personal issues on team Canada
that I dont' understand, but how can the guy (and this goes for all the older
guys that weren't there) miss WC's and the Jeep Cup?
Sullivan is a better libero then anything Canada can throw out there (in all
aspects) and I like Lambert and Barnett better Martin; this said while Barnett
hasnt' even been starting for the USA. Hyden vs. Zurawsky is a no brainer, and
as I've said, I haven't seen Brousseau play well in years (personally) so I'd
take Hyden over him too.
That leaves Duerden vs. George (I'd take George over Sorenson after what I saw
in Japan and Florida). Duerden is definately world class, and you Canadians can
argue for him all you want, but I'll bet that by the end of World League (and
hopefully the Olympics), none of you would choose him over George.
And, for what it's worth, I've played with or against most of these guys too.
Those that I haven't, I've seen play in person plenty (National Team and
Europe) of times...
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