May 8, 2013
UCLA freshman Nirra Fields has been invited to the Canadian Senior Women's National Team (SWNT) tryouts, as announced by Canada Basketball. The 29 players who have been invited to attend, will join the SWNT staff at McMaster University's David Braley Athletic Centre for the May 17-19 tryout.
Fields is one of 10 college players in the USA and five from the Pac-12 Conference that have been extended an invitation to the tryout.
Fields, who was one of 80 women from Canada playing in the NCAA during the 2012-13 season, and one of seven competing in the Pac-12, is excited about her opportunity to tryout for a spot on the National Team. She competed at the 2011 World Championships in Chile for the Canadian U-19 squad and starred for Canada the previous summer with the cadet team when, despite Canada's fifth-place finish, Fields led the tournament in scoring at 22.4 points per game.
"This is my first time trying out for the National Team," Fields said. "I have been with the national program for several years. During that time, I became familiar with how the international game is played. That, combined with my experience at UCLA, should help me make this team."
The 5-foot-9-inch guard out of Montreal, Quebec, earned honorable mention Pac-12 All-Freshman Team accolades after averaging 7.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game for UCLA, which finished the season 26-8 and 14-4 in the Pac-12.
"I think I learned a lot this past year," Fields added. "I learned to be a better student of the game. I tried to understand what to do in all kinds of situations. Playing college basketball is a lot like what I'm going to be faced with in trying to make the National Team. It is more about your basketball IQ than about what you can do. I watched a lot of game film this year and it helped me to learn how to read defenses and know when and where to pass the ball. All of those things help you become a better player. You have to be a student of the game."
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 with a thrilling 71-63 victory over Japan at the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. 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 in fourth place.
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 Lisa 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, the Dundas, Ont. native 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.
"I'm really looking forward to this experience," Fields said. "I will be playing against great players, some college and some professionals. It will all help when I return to UCLA knowing that I played against some of the best in the world. I can use this experience to add to my game and to my basketball IQ."
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.
2013 Senior Women's National Team Tryout Invitees
|Natalie Achonwa||Forward||Guelph, Ont.||Notre Dame (NCAA)|
|Kayla Alexander||Center||Milton, Ont.||Syracuse (NCAA)|
|Miranda Ayim||Forward||London, Ont.||Orduspor (Turkey)|
|Janelle Bekkering||Forward||Taber, Alta.||BBC Kangoeroes-B (Belgium)|
|Krysten Boogaard||Center||Regina, Sask.||Training in Canada|
|Justine Colley||Guard||East Preston, N.S.||St. Mary's (CIS)|
|Nirra Fields||Guard||Montreal, Que.||UCLA (NCAA)|
|Ruth Hamblin||Center||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)|
|Kia Nurse||Guard||Hamilton, Ont.||St. Thomas More C.S.S.|
|Krista Phillips||Center||Saskatoon, Sask.||Dandenong (Australia)|
|Courtnay Pilypaitis||Guard||Orleans, Ont.||Training in USA|
|Katherine Plouffe||Forward||Edmonton, Alta.||Marquette (NCAA)|
|Michelle Plouffe||Forward||Edmonton, Alta.||Utah (NCAA)|
|Emily Potter||Center||Winnipeg, Man.||Glenlawn Collegiate|
|Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe||Forward||Vernon, B.C.||Simon Fraser (NCAA)|
|Karly Roser||Forward||Hamilton, Ont.||Northwestern (NCAA)|
|Kendell Ross||Guard||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, Ont.||Halle (Germany)|
|Shona Thorburn||Guard||Hamilton, Ont.||Aix-en-Provence (France)|
|Jamie Weisner||Guard||Clarkston, Wash.||Oregon State (NCAA)|
|Taryn Wicijowski||Forward||Regina, Sask.||Utah (NCAA)|
|Korissa Williams||Guard||Amherstburg, Ont.||Windsor (CIS)|
|Emma Wolfram||Forward||Kamloops, B.C.||South Kamloops Senior Secondary|
2013 Senior Women's National Team Schedule
|Tryout by Invitation||May 17-19||Hamilton, Ont.|
|Training Camp||May 20-24||Hamilton, Ont.|
|Exhibitions vs. CZE||May 28-29||Prague, Czech Republic|
|Tournament (SRB, ITA, MON)||May 31 - June 2||Belgrade, Serbia|
|Tournament (FRA, ESP, TUR)||June 7-9||Paris, France|
|Tournament (CHN, BRA, PUR)||July 5-12||TBD, China|
|Tournament (BRA, PUR, TBC)||August 15-18||TBD, Brazil|
|FIBA Americas Championships||September 21-28||Xalapa, Mexico|
Senior Women's National Team May Training Location
David Braley Athletic Centre