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Canadian University Basketball – A Family Affair By Joseph Scanlon


Mar 15, 2012

Joseph Scanlon is Professor Emeritus and Director of the Emergency Communications Research Unit (ECRU) at Carleton University. He has been doing disaster research since 1970. He was once a journalist – he served the Toronto Daily Star in Ottawa and Washington – and writes about basketball for fun. His love for the sport came from his mother, Edna Coulter who played for a high school team that never lost a game. Her high school was in Almonte, the home town of James Naismith, the man who invented basketball.

In 1980 the University of Victoria defeated Brandon to win its first Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) men’s basketball championship. The Vikes won again the following year and the year after that eventually winning a record seven straight Canadian titles.

Eli Pasquale was on five of those seven teams. Lloyd Scrubb was on three. Pasquale also spent 15 years as point guard on Canada’s national team. Scrubb became a coach at Vancouver College.

Eli’s brother Vito also played for Victoria and now two of Eli’s sons, Manny and Isiah, are leading scorers for Laurentian. Manny when healthy scores 30+ points a game, as much as any player in CIS basketball. (At the end of the regular season he was top average scorer in Canada, averaging 26.3 points per game.) Lloyd Scrubb’s two sons, Philip and Thomas, whom he coached in high school, now play for Canada’s # 1 men’s team, the Carleton Ravens. Last March in Halifax, Carleton won its seventh championship in nine years, making Philip and Thomas Scrubb like their father, Lloyd, CIS champions. Philip was named rookie of the year in CIS men’s basketball.

The Scrubb boys liked to play two on two against their parents since their mother Diane (Murphy) was also a basketball player -- at Bishop’s and University of British Columbia and on the Quebec provincial team. One of her Quebec team-mates was Linda Macpherson who played at Bishop’s and Concordia. Linda married Chris Hunter who played at Macdonald and McMaster and they coached together at McGill. Their son Tim is in his second year at Bishop’s and is the team’s top scorer averaging 14.7 points per game. Chris’s brother, Ian played at Concordia.

Two other Quebec provincial women’s team-mates were Janet and Sue Hylland. Janet played at Bishop’s and Concordia. Sue played only at Concordia. Sue’s husband, Larry Ring played football at Bishop’s and coached at McGill and Ottawa. Their son Scott Ring is now at Bishop’s after a year at Carleton. Their daughter Kellie is starting point guard for the Gee Gees and was OUA East rookie of the year in 2011-12. Denise Dignard who played at Bishop’s was also on the Quebec provincial team as was Deb Huband. Both also went on to play for the women’s national team. Dignard is now manager of women’s elite performance at Basketball Canada. Dignard’s sister Lisa also played at Bishop’s and her daughter, Liane Bailey is now at University of Toronto. Huband is now head coach of University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds.

Huband who played for one year at Concordia and three at Bishop’s was a three time All-Canadian and has been inducted into the Canadian sports hall of fame  and several other halls of fame including Bishop’s Concordia, Nepean and Ontario and even one for B.C. touch football. As coach, she has taken UBC to three CIS titles – in 2003-4, 2005-6 and 2007-8. Huband wasn’t the first basketball player in her family; her father played for Queen’s when Queen’s was in a four team league with Western, Toronto and McGill.

Still another member of that remarkable Quebec provincial team was Annette Kiss. She played at McGill and married Rick Rusk, also a McGill basketball player whose brother played at York. Annette and Rick’s daughter Alexandria Kiss-Rusk has committed to Virginia Tech for next season. Alexandria has played for Canada at the under 16 worlds and on the Canadian team at the Pan American games.

Linda and Chris Hunter weren’t the only husband-wife combination. Dick Slipp, an assistant coach at University of New Brunswick (UNB) joined his wife Joyce who was coaching the women’s team. Then their son Tyler joined them as an assistant before moving to Waterloo where he is now in his fourth year as women’s coach. Tyler also spent one season as an assistant at Simon Fraser when that team was ranked # 1 in Canada. Similarly, Keith Pruden who coaches the women at Concordia started coaching with his father Victor at the University of Winnipeg.

Pasquale and his sons, Scrubb and his sons and the others show Canadian university basketball is very much a family affair. It isn’t just the players and coaches: when Victoria won its seventh consecutive championship – played at Acadia – the referees were Dick Steeves and Ron Foxcroft. Foxcroft and his son Steve refereed more than 20 university championships.

While no one keeps records of family connections a query on a basketball list serve run by Dale Stevens at McMaster University led to scores of emails and turned up more than 150 examples (the number keeps growing) of brothers or sisters who played together and scores of other family connections. There were even two half-brothers – Jake Jacoway and Josh Masters – at Brandon. And – in case anyone looks closely at the list – it’s not a typo: Bill and Walt Lozynsky both played at Waterloo, both transferred and both played at Windsor.

But the connections weren’t restricted to brothers and sisters. In 10 cases three family members all played basketball, sometimes three sisters, sometimes three brothers, sometimes a mix. Twice four siblings played -- in one case all for the same team. There were several dozen cases where a father or mother and son or daughter both played and eight where the father coached his son or daughter. There were four where a parent, son and daughter all played. There were eight sets of twins. Carleton men have had 15 sets of brothers but Memorial has had 18 sets of brothers and sisters including the three Buckle brothers, the three Campbell brothers, the three Woods brothers and the three Dalton sisters.

More Brothers

The Pasquale brothers weren’t the only brother combination on Victoria’s championship teams. There was also Gerald and Greg Kazanowski. Greg played with both Eli and Vito at Victoria and Gerald was a team-mate of Eli Pasquale on the national team and later played professionally in Europe. A third brother Peter was junior varsity at Victoria. A fourth brother, Richard played for Simon Fraser and later at Carleton. He was coached at both places by Greg Poole, who played at Western, was assistant coach at Simon Fraser and York and head coach at Carleton. Victoria also had a father-son combination. Rene Dolcetti had played for Victoria coach Ken Shields at Laurentian then moved with Shields to Victoria. Rene’s son Marco later also played for Victoria.

At Laurentian, Eli Pasquale’s sons are coached by Shawn Swords, at Carleton the Scrubb’s are coached by Dave Smart – two more persons with basketball pedigrees.

Swords played at Laurentian as did his wife Shelley Dewar and his sister Carolyn who was on two of Laurentian’s national championship teams. Another sister Janet played at McGill. Swords’ father Martin played at Ottawa U. Dave Smart and his brother, Rob both played at Queen’s. Rob went on to coach Queen’s. Dave Smart is coach at Carleton. His teams have included two of his brother’s sons, Rob Jr. and Mike and two of his sister’s sons, Aaron and Ben Doornekamp. (Another brother Nate Doornekamp played for Boston College and a sister, Amy played at University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) and a Smart sister, Jess, played briefly at Carleton.) Smart married Emily Chapman whose brothers, Luke and Aaron also played at Carleton. His assistant coaches include Rob Jr. and Shawn McCleery. McCleery played for Carleton as did his brother, Kevin who now plays professionally in the Netherlands. Their cousin, Jenna Gilbert is with Ottawa U where she averages 22 minutes and 12+ points per game. Their father, Colin McCleery played for Queen’s – a team-mate of Rob Smart Sr. who is Kevin’s godfather. When Shawn and Kevin McCleery were playing for Dave Smart at Carleton, their brother, Kyle was playing for Rob Smart at Queen`s. Dave’s assistant, Rob Jr., was coaching against his father, Rob Sr.

That was one of a number of times brothers have played against each other. For example, in 2005, when University of New Brunswick played University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), Jeff Walker was in his final year of basketball at UPEI, his brother Bill was in his first year with the UPEI team and their brother Greg was in his third year playing for their opponent, UNB. Their father Don was a CIS official though not for that game.

The current Carleton men’s team includes: Elliot Thompson whose two older brothers, Doug and Joe played at UNB: Kyle Smendziuk whose brother, Craig played one year at Bishop’s; and Tyson Hinz athlete of the year in CIS (not just basketball) last season. Tyson is the son of Willie and Sue Hinz whose parents met when they were in high school and involved in Ottawa basketball’s Junior Development Program. They both played at McGill where Willie became a Rhodes Scholar and until recently was the all-time leading scorer. (He played four years in the days before there was a three-point shot.) Sue’s father Boyd grew up playing basketball in Newfoundland though not at university.

Another family link to Carleton is Stuart Turnbull who now plays professionally in Germany. Stuart’s father played for Queen’s for one year, refereed for six years and coached for 28 years. He founded Kingston Magic a club team that won several Ontario medals. He also coached at Ernestown helping develop players such as the Doornekamp brothers and the Smart brothers. His daughter Taryn was with Team Ontario for four years and with the Canadian National Junior team for a year before going to the USA and playing for Tulane. She has played professionally in Germany for the past four years. Her husband John plays hockey and played for Germany for the past four years including at the 2010 Olympics.

List is Endless

The family links seem endless.

Ed Lawlor played at Saint Dunstan’s University, the forerunner of UPEI. Two of his sons, Peter and Stephen played for UPEI as did his daughter, Cathy. She was on the team that won a silver medal at the women’s nationals in 1989. Peter Lawlor married Stephanie Shive who also played for UPEI and Steven Lawlor married Angela Large who played at St. FX. Among them, Peter, Steven and Cathy have five children involved in basketball, though none yet at university.

Jack Hool played at Assumption before it became University of Windsor and was leading scorer. Hool, who is in the Windsor University Hall of Fame, taught and coached at Assumption High School for 40 years; Hool’s son Hunt was an Ontario Universities Athletics (OUA) all-star and a member of two of Windsor’s teams which competed in the CIS championships

Two families are already well into the third generation.

Bill Coulthard played for Tillsonburg Livingstons which represented Canada in the Olympics in 1952 and 1960. His Chris played for what was then Waterloo Lutheran. Bill’s second son Bruce played briefly in Buffalo and then for Windsor and later with the national team. His son David played for York. David was named all-Canadian five times and twice won the Mike Moser Memorial Trophy as most valuable player in Canada, twice was selected York's male athlete of the year. As part of the third generation, Chris’s son played for Wilfrid Laurier and David’s son Will is now the starting point guard there. Will’s mother, Terri Carson, played at McMaster. There is also a link between the Coulthard’s and Chris O’Rourke, the head coach at Guelph. Chris played at Guelph and his brother Shawn played at Laurier when Chris Coulthard was coaching and their father Brian O’Rourke coached Chris, Bruce and David Coulthard in high school. The teams there were known as Glendale Griffins; Chris O’Rourke coaches the Guelph Gryphons.

Another third generation family is the extended Triano family. Howie Triano played at Assumption, with the Tillsonburg Livingstons and was captain of the National team at the 1959 Pan American Games. He is the father-in-law of Tom Heslip who was an all-Canadian at Guelph and the grandfather of Brady Heslip who is now a starter at Baylor, averaging 9.3 points a game. Tom Heslip is the brother-in-law of Jay Triano who played at Simon Fraser, was on the National team from 1978 to 1988 playing in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics and on the Canadian team that won the Gold Medal at the World University Games in Edmonton. Jay Triano later coached at Simon Fraser, became coach of the men`s National team which finished seventh at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and as head coach of the Toronto Raptors was the first Canadian to serve as head coach in the National Basketball Association. Jay was also an assistant with Mike Krzyzewski with the American team that won gold in Turkey in 2010.

Still another member of the Tillsonburg Livingstons was Don McCrae who played at Western, was with Tillsonburg at the Rome Olympics and went on to coach at Waterloo. His daughter, Kate later played for Waterloo. When McCrae was coaching, Waterloo hosted the Nationals three consecutive years. St. Mary’s won in 1972-73, Guelph won in 1973-74 winning one game by one point and a second in double overtimes and Waterloo finally won on its home floor in 1974-75. The winning shot in that game was taken by Phil Goggins whose son Justin later played for Windsor. The final score was: Waterloo 80 Manitoba 79.

The 1973-74 tournament was memorable because McMaster turned down the wild card and it was then offered to Guelph and the Guelph team, led by Bob Sharpe and coached by Garney Henley, the former Tiger-Cat football star, won the tournament.

The 1974-75 tournament was also memorable because Waterloo fans had a tradition of clapping until their team scored the first basket. There were several thousand people in the gym and they stood and kept clapping rhythmically. Brian Heaney the coach of St. Mary’s decided he would try to get the opening rebound then have his point guard Mickey Fox stall until the crowd got tired of clapping. At first, the spectators kept clapping but as the minutes passed did not know what to do. Although St. Mary’s tried to control the ball Waterloo managed to score by forcing turnovers and eventually led 6-2 then 8-2 and St. Mary’s final gave up the stall. Waterloo won 70-46.  That was enough for the rule makers: they decided to introduce the 30-second shot clock (now 24 seconds). That was changed to 24 second when the CIS adopted Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) rules.

There is also the Unsworth family. Art, the father, who played for Saskatchewan Huskies, was widowed when his sons, Clint and Chris were eight and seven. The two boys started playing when their father built a mini-gym in the barn at their ranch just outside Maple Creek. Art helped out as an assistant coach in Maple Creek when his sons reached junior high school. Later the boys played in Medicine Hat. Clint went on to play for the Huskies team that won the CIS in 2009-10. Chris spent two seasons with Calgary; so he was another player who competed against his brother but he transferred to Saskatchewan in time to join his brother on the CIS championship team. Clint has since graduated. Chris is in his fifth and final year with the Huskies. Their father is a full-time rancher but always takes time out from refereeing basketball to watch his sons play.

At Carleton, there was the Gorman family -- Dave and Tom Gorman as well as Dave and Tom’s brother-in-law, John Elliot, married to Dave and Tom’s sister, Patty. Dave Gorman, Tom Gorman and John Elliot all played for Carleton as did John’s sons, Doug and Larry Elliot. Dave, Tom and their sister Patty were all grandchildren of T. P. Gorman a founder of the National Hockey League, who won seven Stanley Cups as coach or manager, the last with the Canadiens in 1946 and owned the Ottawa Auditorium and Connaught Race Track.

There were two family combinations at Simon Fraser before it began playing against US teams. Bruce Langford coached and his daughter played at Simon Fraser and Bruce’s brother, Peter was a referee. Two sisters, Morgan and Brea McLaughlin played for a total of 10 years for the Simon Fraser women’s team though they were never team-mates. Brea joined the team the year after Morgan finished her five years of eligibility.

Wydrzynski Extended Family

The family most involved however is the Wydrzynski’s – and their relatives.

Chris Wydrzynski played for Windsor in 1968-69 the last time Windsor won the men’s national championship and was named MVP at the championship tournament. (In those days it was the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletics Union.) His son Chet came next and his son Adam joined the team the year after Chet finished. A cousin Jim Dunlop was a team-mate of both. Three other cousins – Conor, Greg and Rich Allin – also played for Windsor and were on the team at the same time. Another brother, Max Allin is now at Laurier. Two other cousins, Dan and John Comiskey, played football at Windsor and went on to play in the Canadian Football League. Finally there is Jim Dunlop’s sister, Katy, who played four years at University of Detroit where she was team captain.

Don’t hold your breath! Luke Allin now in Grade 11 is reported to be the tallest and most skilled of the bunch; and he is not the only third generation basketball player in high school. Michael Shoveller, 6’10”who plays at Arnprior in the Ottawa Valley is the son of Bruce Shoveller, an Ontario Universities Athletics (OUA) East all-star when he played at Queen’s and Michael is grandson of Rod Shoveller arguably in his day the best respected referee in Atlantic Canada. Dalhousie’s Rod Shoveller tournament is named after him

The Allin brothers -- Conor, Greg and Rich -- are one of many basketball family trios. Susan, Stephanie and Lorie Knickle played for UPEI – and helped their team to a silver medal at the Nationals in 1988-89. Their father, an obstetrician, used to bring a cow bell to the games. It became so well known it is in the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture Hall of Fame.

Mike, Jennifer, and Julie Sirois also played at UPEI as did Cathy, Peter, and Steven Lawlor, with Steven also playing two years at UNB. Mark and David Mullally were at UPEI with Dave also at Dalhousie, with younger brother Hugh at Dalhousie and Lakehead. There was also Cynthia and Jessica Johnston and their brother Tim all with Bishop’s. Cynthia Johnston also played for the national team. There were three triples at Memorial:  Amy, Megan and Brittany Dalton; Eddie, Norm and Rod Campbell and Michael, Mark and Matthew Woods. Finally, Chris, Lawrence and Roland Biegler played together on the Regina team that went to the national semi-finals in 1988-89. Chris was an all Canadian and a winner of the Mike Moser award. Regina had only nine players that season: the Biegler brothers were a third of the team.

Not to be outdone, the Hann’s had four siblings all playing basketball. Brad and Norm Hann played at Laurentian and both were all-Canadians. One sister Stacey played at Laurentian, another sister Shannon played at Brandon and finished her career at Brock. That record is about to be broken: four Yallin sisters – Andrea, Alex, Steph and Kris have played for Guelph Gryphons. Stephanie was an OUA West all-star three times and was on the 2004-5 championship team. A fifth sister, Kate Yallin has committed to that same team for next fall. Kate who is 6’0” is with Lakeshore Catholic High School and has played for Basketball Ontario

Another three generation family is the Sovran family. Gino Sovran played for Assumption College before it became Windsor.  His son, Jerry Sovran played for Windsor where he was MVP and male athlete of the year and selected once as most outstanding player in the Ontario-Quebec University Athletics Association (OQUAA) and was a second team All-Canadian. Jerry’s son (Gino’s grandson) Mike played at Waterloo where he was selected on the OUA West rookie team, was a second team all-star and finished his career with the third most three-point shots and third most blocks ever for Waterloo.

While third generation basketball families are rare, second generation ones are not.  

Boris and Igor Bakovic were born in Sarajevo where their father Pero and their mother, Marina both played basketball. Igor started his basketball in Sarajevo before the family fled war-torn Bosnia helped by their mother’s sister already living in Toronto. The brothers played together at Ryerson before Boris took a year off and transferred to Calgary. On February 3rd, 2012, Boris made a three point shot against Alberta giving him 2,199 points in his career. That passed the previous Canadian university high mark of 2,182 set by Andrew Spagrud of Saskatchewan.  

The Bakovic’s family is not along in bringing a basketball tradition from Europe to Canada. Dasa Farthing’s father played university basketball then started his own club in Slovakia -- Cassovia Kosice [with every age category possible from mini basketball-to extra ligue (highest league)]. Her father is now vice-president of the Slovak Basketball Association and her sister is a full time coach for both extra ligue for women and junior teams. She won high-school championship last year and went to China to world high-school championships. Dasa herself emigrated to Canada tried out made the women’s team at Carleton and was defensive player of the year in Ontario Universities Athletics (OUA) East.

At Guelph, Larry Angus was followed by two daughters Heather and Skye and a son, Zack, now in his third season with the Gryphons. Heather went on to play for the Windsor team that won the CIS championship in 2010-11. Stu Julius who coached at Lakehead then Laurier is the father of Kyle Julius who played at Guelph. Stu was named OUA coach of the year in 2002-3.

In the Maritimes, Brian Chambers coached at UPEI for more than 20 years and his wife, Ann Robertson is in the New Brunswick Hall of Fame for basketball and track and field. Ann’s brother Bill Robertson played at UPEI and her niece, Lynn Robertson played at Acadia and UNB and was an AUS all-star. It doesn’t stop there. Ann and Brian’s daughter, Eireann Rigby was a three time Atlantic University Sport (AUS) all-star at UPEI. A third generation of that family – Kiera Rigby – has had a tryout with the National Cadet Team.

The extended Laughton family includes six basketball players. Bob Laughton was a member of Carleton’s first two conference championship teams. He then moved on to Queen’s where he was MVP. His brother Barrie and Barrie’s wife Carol (Sanderson) also played at Carleton. Bob’s son Doug also played at Queen’s and, like his father, was MVP. Barrie and Carol’s son, Jeff and daughter, Jenny, also played at Queen’s. Jenny had been a standout at Ottawa’s Lisgar Collegiate where her father taught. One of Bob Laughton’s team-mates on those two championship teams was George House. His son Geoff played at Simon Fraser. His son Tony played at Manitoba.

Doug Laughton incidentally finished his basketball as Queen’s’ third all-time scorer behind Mike Burleigh who scored 1,053 points. Mike was one of three Burleigh brothers at Queen’s. Mike and his brother Dave played basketball and football. Mark played football and was both rookie of the year at Queen’s and a member of the 1983 team that lost in the Vanier Cup final. Their father, Bob Burleigh also played basketball and football at Queen’s and coached all three of his sons in football and basketball during his 30 years at Annandale (Tillsonburg) High School. Bob Burleigh was a team-mate of Bob Laughton and Lloyd Budgell. Their sons – Mike Burleigh, Doug Laughton and Bob Budgell -- were basketball team-mates at Queen’s and all three sons were MVP and OUA East all-stars.

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To read part 3, press here.