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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ontario well represented in Storrs subregional

There are plenty of questions that Albany freshman Mackenzie Trpcic has heading into her first NCAA tournament game.

It's safe to say that the mode of transportation used by two influential men in her basketball career is not at the top of the list.

Trpcic's dad is making the trip from Hamilton, Ontario as will her former AAU coach Richard Nurse, who happens to be the father of UConn guard Kia Nurse.

"Obviously my dad is going to be there tomorrow, her dad is going to be there tomorrow, I don't if they are going to car pool," Trpcic said with a laugh.

If there was a constant at today's press conferences it is that all four teams in the Storrs subregional were represented by Ontario natives. It started with UConn's Nurse, then Brampton's Cassandra Edwards was one of the three players at the podium for Albany. Julia Chandler of Toronto was among those entertaining questions for Syracuse while Chatham's Bridget Carleton will be heading up to the media interview room when it is Iowa State's turn to speak to the media.

"It is fantastic that we have this many Ontario kids and I've played against pretty much all of them," Nurse said. "It is fun to be in this environment. It is something we talked about when we were younger, kind of getting to play in an NCAA tournament. I am super excited for them, proud of their success and a testament to what has been growing back home."

Trpcic is two years younger than Nurse but growing up in the same town as Nurse, it was only natural that they crossed paths on the basketball court in their younger days.

"Her father is my AAU could and we went to rival schools so we always battled against each other so it is always great meeting up with her," Trpcic said.

"I know her personally, our families are close and it is always nice seeing someone who is from the hometown who I know well succeed, she has been doing really well."

So what does Trpcic think of Richard Nurse (who also coached Edwards) as a coach?

"He is a tough coach but he is a character," Trpcic said. "He is a very good coach. He is always around basketball. You will see him. He will be up on his feet for her tomorrow and maybe for me, I don't know probably not."

Nurse is a key member of Canadian national team program so obviously she is a kind of a big deal when she returns to Hamilton.

"Her dad is still a coach so she is still in the scene," Trpcic said. "A lot of young girls look up to her, she is a big role model back home so it has been an amazing past few years in basketball just in Hamilton in general for girls. It is a hotbed in Hamilton right now, in all of Ontario and now we are getting a lot of recognition.

"It is just exciting, we are on ESPN so it is a much bigger stage and the fact that we played in high school gyms against each other and now we are here. There's a lot of kids coing through now especially now that they have us to look up to with us being on national televison and on the national stage, it is just a start."

The second opening round game features close friends Chandler and Carleton.

"Julia and I grew up playing each other through club basketball and that sort of thing and getting to play on the national team, provincial teams, we got really close these past few summers," Carleton said. "It is going to be awesome to get the chance to play against each other at the collegiate level. It is kind of a new experience for both of us, we are excited and looking forward to it."

Carleton, who is second on Iowa State in scoring with an average of 15.2 points per game and is working herself into position to compete for a spot on the 2020 Canadian Olympic team, feels plenty of pride seeing the success enjoyed by the Ontario natives in Storrs for the subregional.

"It says a lot about our province and what kind of basketball players are coming out," Carleton said. "I think it is really exciting. Canada basketball is kind of on the rise so it is awesome having Canadian players on all four teams that are in this area. Kia Nurse and I are pretty close, we trained together this summer, Mackenzie is a great player too, Chelayane and Julia on Syracuse, it has been a great to reunite with all of these girls. It kind of says a lot about the growth of Canada basketball for sure."


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