Volume 97, Issue 2
Thursday, May 29, 2003

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Putting Canadian hoops on the map

Dave Picard/Gazette
DRIVING PAST THE DRIVE. Former Mustang Chedo Ndur soars in for a layup in a recent CNBL game between the London Orion and Windsor Drive on Friday Night.

By Ian Denomme
Gazette Staff

For a league that's still in its infancy, the Canadian National Basketball League (CNBL) has some big goals and high expectations.

The newly formed professional league has begun its exhibition schedule and regular season games are set to begin in the fall, with six teams in southern Ontario.

One of the six teams is the London Orion, which features six former Western Mustangs: Chris Brown, Jim Grozelle, Mike Milne, Chedo Ndur, Kyle Rysdale and Tim Shanks.

The Orion began their exhibition schedule on Fri., May 23, against the Windsor Drive at the Carling Heights Community Centre. A trio of former Mustangs led the Orion to an 83-75 victory. Brown led all scorers with 20 points, while Ndur scored 12 and Grozelle added 10.

The rest of the "Original Six" teams are the Windsor Drive, Brantford Blaze, Waterloo Wildhawks, Toronto Express and Durham Dragons.

The league is a work in progress that CNBL President Bill Crowdis has been working on for almost four years. The idea came to him while he was playing basketball overseas.

"If you look at Canada compared to the rest of the world, you can find pro ball everywhere but here," Crowdis said. "There has never been a league geared towards Canadians."

The league's main goal is development. Crowdis hopes the league will some day be developing players who go on to Canadian Interuniversity Sport or Olympics glory. "It's a long term project – we have to get Canada on par with the rest of the world," he said.

Despite the league being in its early stages, there have been no problems recruiting players. Ndur was quick to jump on the opportunity.

"I just wanted the chance to play again," Ndur said. "I've been playing pick-up, but I wanted to play for real again. I get to play with great guys – I've been playing with some of them for five years."

Grozelle was also happy to join the league and take the chance to play at the next level. "The talent level is great. There's a lot of former all-stars and guys who played pro overseas. I've known a lot of these guys for a long time – they're competitive guys, so we should do well."

With the teams and players in place, the long-term goal is to make sure the league is successful. In order to be successful, Crowdis said he believes there should be an entertainment factor – the players need to be recognizable and act as role models, and there should be an emphasis on development at the grassroots level.

"Our goal is to improve ball in Canada," Crowdis said. "To do that we have to focus on grassroots. We want kids to move up and be well-developed, and within each region form an elite program of pro basketball and a development system."

Aside from the development, Crowdis believes the level of success will depend on the players.

"The players will make or break the league. With the talent level we have, the basketball will be good and entertainment is the bottom line."


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