PATHF Tournament Assignments:  North America with 3 Major Championships

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The Pan American Team Handball Federation (PATHF) met this past week in Argentina and the North American Zone was able to secure 3 major championships for 2017 and 2018.  Link

Canada will host the Women’s Sr. Pan American Championships from June 15-26, 2017 in Edmonton, Alberta.  Canada’s hosting of this tournament will be a major opportunity to showcase the sport’s growth in Alberta.  The top 3 teams from this tournament will also punch tickets to the 2017 Women’s World Championships in Germany. (Commentary on Handball’s growth in Alberta: Link)

Greenland will get the opportunity to host its first major tournament when it hosts the Men’s Pan American Championships in 2018 in the nation’s capital, Nuuk.  Air travel has always been an issue in the past with commercial flights to Greenland being expensive and only available via Denmark.  The tournament will likely be played in June and the top 3 teams (or more pending 2017 WC results) will qualify for the 2019 Men’s World Championships that will be cohosted by Denmark and Germany.

Finally, the USA will host the 2018 Pan American Beach Handball Championships.  The tournament will be staged in either Miami or Southern Californian in the March timeframe.  Both Men’s and Women’s tournaments will be played with a TBD number of places to be awarded spots at the 2018 Championships in Sochi, Russia.  The USA Men are the defending PATHF Champions.

Commentary:  I’ve commented on more than one occasion about South American dominance in PATHF affairs.  Canada was once denied participation in a PATHF Championship, despite having qualified for the previous WC (Link) and Greenland was even unceremoniously voted out of PATHF not to long ago: Link.  A decade or so ago it was pretty bleak.  Now 3 major tourneys all awarded to North America. Brazilians and Argentinians getting the opportunity to get a lot of frequent flier miles.  No complaints from me.  It’s time to sing Kumbaya around the PATHF Congress table!

Now we’ll see if the North American sides can take advantage of these opportunities to get some World Championships berth.  In particular, it should be interesting to see how Greenland will fare with what surely will be a loud and boisterous crowd backing them.

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Commentary and Analysis: USA Men vs. Alberta Jr. Team Series

It's a long way to Tipperary and to Auburn for that matter: Does it make more sense for the U.S. to Train in Europe? That thought along with analysis of the 4 match series played between the USA Men and Alberta Jrs

It’s a long way to Tipperary and to Auburn for that matter: Does it make more sense for the U.S. to train selected athletes in Europe? That thought along with analysis of the 4 match series played between the USA Men and Alberta Jrs.

The USA Men recently hosted the Alberta Men’s Jr. Men’s Team in a series of 4 matches played over 4 days (15-18 February, 2016). The U.S. won all 4 matches by the following scores

Match 1: USA 35, Alberta 25
Match 2: USA 30, Alberta 23
Match 3: USA 32, Alberta 25
Match 4: USA 29, Alberta 27

Links to Video of the matches courtesy of the Alberta Team Handball Federation: Link

The Good

4 games; 4 wins: A team should always get credit for winning matches. The U.S. faced some adversity and still came away with 4 victories.

Sticking with Residency Players: The U.S. has previously called in veterans and expats to shore up weaknesses against modest competition like Puerto Rico. Not so this time around. The U.S. fielded a roster entirely composed of players participating in the Residency Program. That’s the way it should be if you’re a believer in the Residency Program model.

Teamwork: It’s hard to get a full sense from Youtube videos of how well a team is working together, but I’ve got the impression that these players are bonding together as a unit.  Undoubtedly, they are facing a lot of adversity and a little bit of “us against the world” mentality has helped make that happen.

Better Handball Skills: It’s clear that these players, many of whom are relatively new to the game have leaned the fundamentals of the game. They look like a handball team. That’s real progress.

Notes on a few players:
– Joshua Norman: Norman plays a pretty good point on defense. His quickness and court awareness disrupted Alberta’s offense and made the U.S. defense better across the board.
– Alden Mezick: Mezick has developed into a pretty decent goalie. For his limited experience this is a significant accomplishment and it makes me wonder how much more progress he would make with regular competition against better players.
– Ty Reed: Reed has developed into a capable wing in a short period of time.

The Not So Good

Handball Skills Still Need a lot of Work: While the players have the fundamentals down one doesn’t have to look to hard to see that there’s still a lot of work left to be done. Backcourt play, in particular, is still pretty ineffective. There’s little question in my mind that veterans like El Zoghby, Hines and Axelsson are still far better options for those 3 critical positions. And, sight unseen I suspect some of the younger dual citizens playing in Europe are also better options as well. Yes, talent wise all that Auburn has accomplished so far is a promising goalie and a couple of credible options on the wing.

No Future Elite Professionals: Predicting future success on the handball court is a challenging proposition. It’s not easy even for professional scouts. Still, I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb by stating that I don’t think any of the athletes currently training at Auburn will ever don a jersey for a top professional club some day. Hard workers for sure, but I would be very surprised to see any of them playing in the HBL, LNH or for a Champions League side. 2nd Tier or 3rd Tier sides might be possible, however, for a few, but even that is a few years away.

The Lack of Promotion: Where was the best place to get information on these matches? Unfortunately, it was the Alberta Team Handball Federation. They posted scores on their Facebook page in a timely fashion and match videos on their Youtube page. They also posted travelogues with behind the scenes video of their trip. By contrast the U.S. only managed a couple of Facebook posts and the Federation website doesn’t even mention the games. The crowd in attendance was also pretty sparse. It’s almost as if the Federation didn’t want anyone attending or knowing about these matches.

The Unintended Contrasts

Competition Availability (North America vs. Europe): Perhaps nothing could drive home the “lack of regular competition” problem inherent with a U.S. base Residency Program more than the scheduling of a 4 game series between teams located in Alberta and Alabama. 2,400 miles, a 35 hr drive or a 10 hr plane trip with 2 stops. The European equivalent would be Barcelona playing Minsk. Many thanks to our Canadian friends who are willing to foot the bill for such a journey.

It makes me wonder if the cash strapped U.S. will be returning the favor at some point. Or more appropriately, it makes me wonder if anyone with the U.S. Federation will look a little more closely at moving selected athletes to a European training site like the Aarhus Academy. Instead of competition against a team like the Alberta Jrs. every 2 months or so they could be playing against more experienced European club teams on a weekly basis. And, some of those players could even get discovered for a coveted pro contract.

More information on the European Based Training Program the U.S. could consider: Link  

Grassroots vs. Residency Programs (Alberta vs. Alabama): I also can’t help but watch these matches for a couple of minutes without asking myself the following questions:

  • – How does a Canadian Province put together a Jr. Team that can compete with the U.S. Sr. National Team? The Alberta roster included five 18 year olds and no player older than 21. And, they’ve done it with no national federation funding.
  • – Could the U.S. develop a program in one U.S. state similar to what has been developed in Alberta? Seriously, just one state would be a good start. That’s all I’m asking.
  • – Why aren’t members of the Board of Directors and the Staff at USA Team Handball asking themselves the same questions?

More information on the “Alberta Option” for USA Team Handball to consider: Link

At least I’d like to think some decision makers are asking such questions. In the meantime, I’ll just keep shaking my head in puzzlement and keep telling myself it’s only a matter of time before smart people see the light.

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VIDEO: USA Men Beat Alberta Jr. Team 35-25

USA on attack vs. Alberta

USA on attack vs. Alberta

 

The USA Men beat the Albert Jr. Men’s team 35-25 last night in a game played at Auburn, Alabama. The U.S. trailed Albert 20-18 at the half, but played some outstanding defense in the second half, limiting the Canadian Provincial team to just 5 goals. This is the first match of a four game series and the teams will play again on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

Video of the match is available on the Alberta Federation Youtube page: Link

Video for the upcoming matches as well as travelogues (video logs) from the Albertan team are also available for viewing there.

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Charting a Way Forward for USA Team Handball: Option 8: The Alberta Strategy

 

42 Alberta youth athletes at the Blue Lagoodn in Iceland, 11 Albertans at the Aarhus Academy, 10 Albertans on the Canadian Team that took Gold over the primarily Expat American Team,  Legitimate HS and MS championships.   What the heck is going on with Alberta Grass Roots Development?

Some of the 42 Alberta youth athletes who recently toured Iceland relax at the Blue Lagoon, 11 Albertans training full time in 2013 at the Aarhus Academy in Denmark, 10 Albertans on the Canadian Jr Team that took Gold over an American Team composed primarily of dual citizens living in Europe, Legitimate HS and MS championships. Just what the heck is going on in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies?  Have they cracked the development code and quietly created a Little Iceland?

Background

This past weekend the U.S. Men’s Team played 3 matches against the Alberta Sr Men’s team, winning 2 and drawing one.  The U.S. was clearly the better side this weekend, but Alberta proved to be a worthy opponent and a good tuneup for next weekend’s critical match vs Uruguay.  But, it does beg the question:  Why play Alberta and how did Alberta get good enough to take on the American National Team, albeit one without some of its top overseas based players?

The answer is that somehow Alberta has arguably developed the best grass roots program in the country.  Here’s some background on how far that province has come and what’s been developed there in the past 10 years or so.

Flashbacks to the 80s and 90s

I was first introduced to handball in Alberta in the late 1980s when a provincial team from Alberta came to play at the Copa Ventura tournament in California. (Nothing against Swim & Sport’s annual summer classic, but I’ll take the California Sun and the nearby ocean any day of the week over the swamp in Flanders.) The side from Alberta was a good one, but the old Ventura Condors was still able to best them in those tournaments.   Also, around that time frame I played in a couple of tournaments in Vancouver. Can’t remember if the Alberta teams were there, but the British Columbia teams were comparable to the U.S. club team I played for.

A few years later in 1993, a provincial team from Manitoba came down to Colorado Springs to play in the Falcon Cup. And, this was a beefed up Falcon Cup as the U.S. National Team used it as prep for the World Championships not unlike the current National Team did this past weekend. As, I recall the Manitoba side even played the National Team close for a while before we eventually blew them out. Then, a year later in 1994 while coaching the Air Force Academy I took the team up to Calgary for a mini-tournament. We arranged the trip with the Calgary reps on short notice, so the sides we played were shorthanded and Air Force was able to come away with the title.

What’s the point of this trip down memory lane? Well, the point is that from my perspective there wasn’t a whole lot of difference between the club programs in Western Canada and the clubs in the Western USA. Some decent players and teams, but primarily a bit on the older side with many players in their late 20s and early 30s. And, organizationally everything seemed a bit rag tag with dedicated volunteers doing the best that they can.

Flash Forward to Today

Some 20 years later in terms of club development and organization it’s more or less the same story in the U.S.   A few clubs still remain, some new clubs have sprung up while a number of others have come and gone. Demographically, there’s seems to have been a bit of a shift in terms of the greater percentage of Expats populating club teams, but other than that it all seems familiar. And, perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch for an American who hasn’t visited western Canada since 1994, but I suspect that club handball hasn’t changed a whole lot in British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well.

In Alberta, however, something is going on. I haven’t been on the ground there, but what I’ve read and heard suggests that somehow this province has cracked the development code that has long frustrated handball devotees in North America. In 2013, I was surprised to learn that 11 Albertans recently graduated from High School were headed to the Aarhus Handball Academy in Denmark. I spoke with Mike Nahmiash, the Exec Dir of Alberta Handball in this podcast interview and this is some of the information that I gleaned:

  • In grades 3-6 around a thousand athletes on 15-60 teams compete in provincial mini-handball championships
  • In grades 7-9 around 25-30 teams compete in Jr. High provincial championships
  • In High School handball is a sanctioned sport in Alberta just like basketball or volleyball
  • In grades 10-12, 3,000 athletes are playing on 120 teams; and teams play around 30-40 games a season

The last bullet seems to good to be true. I’m not calling Mr Nahmiash a liar, but numbers in handball development circles are often inflated. There are solid established teams, temporary teams, fully devoted hard core athletes and athletes that have picked up a handball once in their life. And sometimes those numbers are all added together to make things sound a bit better. That being said there’s no denying the solid evidence which includes:

  • Multiple youth teams of varying ages traveling to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and surely other locations as well. Those trips aren’t cheap and are clearly a sign of dedication in significant numbers. Comparatively, youth players from Alberta have probably made more trips abroad in the past few years than all youth players from the entire U.S. in the past 20 years.
  • Real high school championships are taking place. Take a look at these programs and websites.  2014 Rosters:  Link Link Mike Nahmiash indicated in my interview that former U.S. Olympian, National Team Coach and NBC Olympics commentator, Dawn Lewis attended one HS competition and was blown away by the numbers of players and the quality of the competition.   Comparatively almost nothing exists at the HS level in the U.S.  As far as I know the Ocean, NJ girl’s team is the only HS age team in the entire U.S. regularly competing in events.
  • This past fall a junior Canadian team beat an American team for the Gold Medal at an IHF Challenge Tournament in Mexico.  The Canadian team had 10 Albertans on the roster while the U.S. team was primarily composed of dual citizens living in Europe.  Honestly, the U.S. would struggle to even field a team without those athletes who learned the sport in Europe.  For certain, we could not field a competitive team without them.
  • This past weekend an Alberta Provincial Team played the U.S. National Team toe to toe on American home turf in Auburn. The U.S. team is training together on a daily basis and is likely on average older than the Alberta side.  Could any state in the U.S. even field a competitive team of athletes in their younger 20s?

How has Alberta gone from a typical backwater region with very modest handball participation to the hotbed of North America? It’s hard to fully ascertain without being on the ground, but it would seem that a growing cadre of volunteers have been ably managed and led by Exec Director Nahmiash over the course of the past 10 years. And, more importantly it has apparently been done with almost zero outside funding from the Canadian Federation. Seriously, if you think the USA Team Handball Federation is fiscally challenged, realize that our neighbors to the North can only dream of having salaried staff members.

Analysis

For previous options I have included some top level analysis of pros, cons, risks, costs, and timelines for implementation. At this point, however, I’ll be the first to say that I’ve only scratched the surface as to what’s going on in Alberta and how some of the initiatives that they’ve successfully undertaken could be implemented in the U.S. The key takeaway, though, is that Alberta has been wildly successful in its development efforts. How successful?

Arguably, more new development has taken place in Alberta in the last 10 years than has occurred in the entire history of USA Team Handball. And, having been 10 years or so it’s most likely sustained growth that’s not going away anytime soon.

Certainly at the High School level there is no debate as to the accuracy of that statement. Perhaps at younger ages it is less true, thanks to past programs like at the Boys & Girls clubs in California/Georgia and Rock Handball and current programs like the one Craig Rot has started in Chicago. Still, the fact that such an argument can legitimately be made should get people wondering why a similar effort hasn’t been put in place in the U.S.

But, before I put too much sunshine on the Alberta efforts I’ll throw on a bit of cold water. In particular, it’s not clear if this grass roots development is going to translate to success at the National Level. While Canadian National Teams have started to see the placement of more Alberta players there’s rough parity with Quebec, Canada’s traditional handball stronghold. And while a few players have played professionally in Europe there doesn’t appear to be any breakthrough world class players yet from Alberta. Logically, one could argue that it’s only a matter of time before greater success happens at the Senior Level, but the reality is that it hasn’t happened yet.

Another consideration is that what works in Canada won’t necessarily work in the U.S. Yes, the two countries have a great deal in common, but there are organizational and structural differences in our schools that might make it difficult to duplicate Alberta’s success in an American location.

But, getting back to the key takeaway, Alberta has clearly developed a successful model for development. I’m not a big believer in the concept of “no brainer” decisions that don’t require any due diligence analysis first, but I’ll make an exception in this case.

USA Team Handball should expend some significant time and energy to better understand just what’s happening in that corner of the Great White North. Then perform a full assessment as to how some of that success can be translated to the States.

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Winter Classic Results

Winter-Classic

The USA Women’s team hosted Canada and Handball Club Intrepide from Guadaloupe from 17-20 December.  Handball Club Intrepide managed to go 3-0-1 with wins against both U.S. sides and a draw and a win against Canada.  The USA Blue team was the best national side with come from behind wins over both Canadian teams and a narrow loss to Intrepide.

Here are the results of the 8 games played

Wednesday, 17 Dec
Canada White USA Blue 14-18
Canada Red Guadaloupe 24-24 (Canada won penalties 4-3)
Thursday, 18 Dec
Guadaloupe USA Blue 24-23
Canada White USA Red 25-20
Friday, 19 Dec
Canada Red USA Red 24-14
Canada White Guadaloupe 14-27
Saturday, 20 Dec
Guadaloupe USA Red 23-14
Canada Red USA Blue 20-24

As there were no USA-USA or Canada-Canada matches a full round robin was not played.  As such, Guadaloupe was the only team that played 4 matches.  Here is a table, keeping in mind that caveat.

All Matches W L D Pts GF GA GD
Guadaloupe 3 0 1 7 98 75 23
USA Blue 2 1 0 4 65 58 7
Canada Red 1 1 1 3 68 62 6
Canada White 1 2 0 2 53 65 -12
USA Red 0 3 0 0 48 72 -24

Here’s the results just looking at USA vs Canada matches

USA-Canada Matches W L D Pts GF GA GD
USA Blue 2 0 0 4 42 34 8
Canada Red 1 1 0 2 44 38 6
Canada White 1 1 0 2 39 38 1
USA Red 0 2 0 0 34 49 -15

 

Finally, while a full round robin was not played it is possible to break down the matches into four, mini tournaments in which each side did play head to head.  Here are those results.

Tourney 1 W L D Pts GF GA GD
Guadaloupe 1 0 1 3 48 47 1
USA Blue 1 1 0 2 47 44 3
Canada Red 0 1 1 1 44 48 -4
Tourney 2 W L D Pts GF GA GD
Canada Red 1 0 1 3 48 38 10
Guadaloupe 1 0 1 3 47 38 9
USA Red 0 2 0 0 28 47 -19
Tourney 3 W L D Pts GF GA GD
Guadaloupe 1 0 0 4 51 37 14
USA Blue 1 1 0 2 41 38 3
Canada White 0 1 0 0 28 45 -17
Tourney 4 W L D Pts GF GA GD
Guadaloupe 2 0 0 4 50 28 22
Canada White 1 1 0 2 39 47 -8
USA Red 0 2 0 0 34 48 -14

 

Some Brief Analysis:  Having not seen the matches I can only infer a few things from the score lines and Federation write ups.  First off, it was good for the USA first team to get two wins over the Canadian sides.  Perhaps, a bit disappointing that they trailed both games at the half, but a win is a win.  The close loss to club Intrepide, however, is a disappointment as the U.S. defeated Intrepide in Guadaloupe this past August 30-22.  Perhaps, though, it illustrates the lack of regular competition problem inherent with a residency program.  When the U.S beat Intrepide it was just prior to the start of their season and I suspect that the club players were a bit rusty.  Now that their season is in full swing the rust has likely worn off with regular weekly competition.  It’s hard to say, but there’s probably more to that logic than the U.S. regressing that much since August. Perhaps, not coincidentally the leading scorer for the U.S. was Kathy Darling who is also playing matches on a regular basis for Le Pouzin in the French 3rd Division, a level of play that is probably comparable to the regional Guadaloupe league. (More on Club Intrepide and how the U.S. might want to emulate their grass roots program:  Link)

Overall, it’s just another data point along the way to a critical 2 game, home and home series the women will play in March against Uruguay to qualify for the PANAM Games.  That’s right, just like the Euros, Uruguay will first play a match at Auburn on the weekend of 5-9 March.  Then, the U.S. will travel to Montevideo the following weekend.  The winner on aggregate goals for both matches will advance.  PATHF Announcement:  Link

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AUDIO: Alberta Team Handball: Grass roots development firmly taking root

Canadians from Alberta currently enrolled at the Aarhus Handball Academy in Denmark. Top row left to right: Kraig Fischer, Parker Love, Mackenzie Gleave, Tyler Southall, Lyndon Suvanto, Darryl Lakusta, Spencer O’Donnell, Mark Gordulic, Bottom Row: Brenna sanderson, Dusen Kristic, Janel Rogiani

Canadians from Alberta currently enrolled at the Aarhus Handball Academy in Denmark. Top row left to right: Kraig Fischer, Parker Love, Mackenzie Gleave, Tyler Southall, Lyndon Suvanto, Darryl Lakusta, Spencer O’Donnell and Mark Gordulic,
Bottom Row: Brenna Sanderson, Dusen Kristic and Janel Rogiani

Earlier this week I saw a post indicating that 11 players from Alberta, Canada had enrolled at the Aarhus Handball Academy in Denmark.  I was surprised to see such a large number of players from Alberta trekking to Denmark to play team handball, so I contacted Alberta Team Handball, Executive Director/Technical Director Mike Nahmiash to find out more.  Our conversation touched on a number of topics to include the Aarhus Handball Academy program; youth, junior and senior programs in Alberta; Canadian National Team plans and the possibility of a joint American-Canadian club league.  Podcast length is 41 minutes

With thousands of athletes now playing at all levels (3rd grade to collegiate), Alberta Team Handball has come a long way in just a few short years. In fact, it could very well be true that with over a 100 high schools now playing boys and girls team handball as an officially sanctioned sport more handball is now being played in this corner of Canada then the rest of Canada and the U.S. combined.

Alberta Team Handball Federation: Link

List of Alberta players overseas: Link (This is the page that initially drew my attention)

Alberta player blogs: Link   (Several players at Aarhus are blogging about their experience)

Aarhus Handball Academy:  Link
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VIDEO: USA vs. Canada, IHF Challenge Cup


USA’s Orton Fofana about to take a hard foul in the closing minutes. (Check video 8 of 8 at around the 6 minute mark to see how cooler heads prevailed.)

Alberta Team Handball has posted video of the USA – Canada, Men’s Under 20 group play match that was played in Mexico this past November.   Canada won that contest 37-30 and later beat the Americans 40-38 in the Bronze Medal match.

It doesn’t take long to see how pivotal the back court tandem of Fofana, Binderis and Galindo were to the U.S. performance.  These players definitely have a future with the U.S. national team.

Video 1
Video 2
Video 3
Video 4
Video 5
Video 6
Video 7
Video 8

Player #, Name, Club/country of residence, goals scored
#1, Chris Hesser, Dynamo HC, Goalie
#2, Stefan Paunovic, Denmark, 0 goals
#3, Tylert Shukert, Minnesota HC, 0 goals
#5, Domenic Lapore, Salt Lake City, 0 goals
#6, Jerome Nohr, Germany, 0 goals
#7, Ian Pinson, LA THC, 1 goal
#8, Orton Fofana, France, 10 goals
#11, Alex Binderis, Sweden, 4 goals
#15, Javier Galindo, Spain, 9 goals
#16, David Brown, West Point, Goalie
#17, Andrew Donlin, Air Force, 2 goals
#24, Connor Holt, West Point, 2 goals
#25, Ryan Petersen, Cary HC, 0 goals

THN (23 Nov 2012): IHF Challenge Cup: Some numbers behind the results

 

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USA Team Handball selects Christian Latulippe as Men’s Head Coach for Pan American Championships

New USA Men's Coach: Christian Latullipe

USA Team Handball has posted the following update on their Facebook Page:

Staff Selection Committee Announces Choices

General Manager Dave Gascon today announced the long awaited selections of staff for the upcoming USATH Men’s National Team (MNT) as they will venture to Argentina for the Pan American Championships, which is also a qualifier for the 2013 World Championships in Spain.

“I am pleased to announce that our selection committee of Olympians Rod Oshita, Bob Djokovich, and Michael Lenard has selected Christian Latulippe as Head Coach, Michael Tilton as Assistant Coach, and Mariusz Wartalowicz as Team Leader for this event. I know the committee spent considerable time and effort evaluating all the candidates in order to provide us with the best possible selections. I am very impressed with the professional and thoughtful process with which they approached their responsibilities. USA Team Handball is grateful to them for their time and commitment to our Men’s National Team Program.”

The Pan Am Championships are scheduled for June 18-24, and although the timeline is not yet finalized, Gascon addressed the possible schedule. “Our tentative goal is to depart for Argentina June 10th and to try to get in a solid week of training before the tournament begins. The athlete selection process is being finalized and we hope to have a team selected around the 23rd of May.

We are hopeful that our newly appointed staff and the athletes will bond quickly and that the team will jell within the week. It will be quite intense,” said an optimistic Gascon. I expect our MNT Selection Committee will pick a great team to represent the United States for this important competition.”

Gascon has indicated he will ask for the assistance of 2011 Pan Am Games Head Coach Darrick Heath and Assistant Coach Wade Sutton, as well as former Pan Am Games MNT player Daniel Kimmich, to serve in some capacity on the selection committee. Latulippe, Tilton, and Wartalowicz will round out the panel.

This will be Latullipe’s second go round as a USA National Team Coach.  From 2004-2007, he was the coach of the USA Women’s Team and was instrumental in the setup and organization of the residency program in Cortland, NY.  In March of 2007, Latulippe, was abruptly replaced (fired, resigned, reassigned- take your pick) as coach shortly before key qualification matches for the 2007 PANAM Games.  Latullipe, a Quebecois Canadian, has been coaching club handball in France where he was recently the head coach of 2nd Division Women’s side, La Motte Servolex.   He also was the assistant coach for the Canadian Men at the 2011 PANAM Games.

The assistant coach, Mike Tilton, is the current West Point Men’s coach.

THN (13 Mar 2007): USA Women’s National Team Coach Resigns: http://teamhandballnews.com/2007/03/usa-women%E2%80%99s-national-team-coach-resigns/
THN (19 Mar 2007): USOC Statement on Latulippe Resignation: http://teamhandballnews.com/2007/03/usoc-statement-on-latulippe-resignation/
THN (22 Mar 2007): An Act of Desperation or Decisive Action?:  http://teamhandballnews.com/2007/03/an-act-of-desperation-or-decisive-action/
THN (18 Jun 2007):  USA Women:  What happened and what’s next?: http://teamhandballnews.com/2007/06/usa-women-what-happened-and-what%E2%80%99s-next/
Handzone (19 Feb 2012): La Motte-Servolex without Christian Latulippe: http://www.handzone.net/asp.net/main.news/news.aspx?id=56593
West Point Team Handball Website (Coaches): http://wpteamhandball.wetpaint.com/page/Coaches

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PANAM Games: USA vs. Canada: LIVE AUDIO COMMENTARY

Gary Hines and Team USA will take on Canada in Guadalajara

 

I will provide a live audio commentary of Saturday’s match between the USA and Canada.  This consolation semifinal is scheduled for 1:30 PM (U.S. East Coast Time).  Last December the two teams split a two game series with each side losing by identical 25-21 scores on the road.  Canada won a ten minute overtime, but that was played in Montreal, so this neutral ground showdown will serve as the unofficial rubber match between the two rivals.

The audio and video links are below:

Audio: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/team-handball

Video: http://deportesus.terra.com/rumbo-a-2012/guadalajara-2011/en-vivo/

USA Federation Live Chat page: http://usateamhandball.org/

Undoubtedly, time delays will make traditional commentary unpractical, so I will try to focus on the overall situation.  If you’ve got comments/questions post them on the ustream chat or Federation chat pages and I’ll try to respond.

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PANAM Games: USA and Canadian Men lose again: Both relegated to 5th-8th place

USA defender, Domagoj Srsen, jumps high to block an Argentine jump shot

Both the USA and Canadian Men lost their second matches in Group play yesterday.  As expected the USA lost to Group favorite Argentina, 36-19.  Some solace, however, can be taken from a strong first half performance that saw the USA down only 12-9 at the break.  The Canadian Men got roughed up a bit more than I would expect by Chile, losing 42-25.  Based on results so far Chile may even give Brazil a run for the money in a Group A showdown on Thursday.

Men’s Competition Scenarios

Most of the suspense has been taken out of the Men’s Pool as the semifinal participants are now set.  In Group A, Brazil and Chile will advance, while Argentina and the Dominican Republic will advance out of Group B.  Those teams will play each other Thursday to determine who will get the higher seed.  Accordingly, the lower 4 teams are also set.  Canada and Venezuela from Group A and Mexico and the USA from Group B.  Again those teams will be seeded based on their head to head matches on Thursday.

Women’s Competition Scenarios

In Group A, Argentina and Mexico have secured spots in the semifinals.  Those two teams will battle on Wednesday to see who avoids Brazil in the Semifinals.  For the Mexican Women, this is surely a major Handball milestone.  In Group B, there is some suspense for the second spot due to the earlier Dominican Republic – Uruguay draw.  Currently, the Dominican Republic has a 35 goal differential lead over Uruguay, but that will be narrowed when the Dominicans take on Brazil in the first match of the day.  The USA will then have the opportunity to play the role of spoiler when they face Uruguay later in the evening.  Uruguay will know exactly how many goals they need to beat the USA by to advance and the USA should have the incentive to keep that number down or better, simply beat the Uruguayans.

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PANAM Games: USA and Canadian Men lose and the battles for second place

Brazil had no problems with Canada on Sunday, but the Canadian Men still have a shot at the semifinals

Both the USA and Canadian Men lost their first matches in Group play yesterday.  The Canadian ran into a Brazil onslaught and lost 46-17 in a game in which the outcome was never in doubt.  Despite this  blowout, though, Canada can still qualify for the semis with victories over Chile and Venezuela.

Canada-Brazil Highlights: http://deportesus.terra.com/rumbo-a-2012/videos/0,,338880.html

In contrast the USA men lost a hard fought match which was closer than the final outcome of 27-22 indicates.  In fact, the USA had a slim lead most of the first half which ended at 11-11.  In the second half the USA appeared to take command in the first few minutes jumping out to a 16-13 lead in the first six minutes.  Following a time out the Dominican Republic was able to settle things down and a USA scoring dry spell resulted in a 17-17 tie score with 14 minutes left to go in the match.  The teams traded goals and with about 6 minutes to go in the match the Dominican Republic had a narrow 22-21 lead.  When the Dominican Republic pushed the lead to 2 goals, however, the USA was not able to respond and appeared to panic with an overly aggressive defense which allowed the Dominican Republic to pad the eventual final scoring margin.

In terms of individual performance, Martin Clemons Axelsson was a steady and reliable performer throughout the match and led the team with 8 goals.  Gary Hines struggled to get on track and the focused and physical Dominican Republic defense held him in check most of the evening.  For 55 minutes, goalie Danny Caparelli was outstanding with several huge saves on some point blank shots.  In the closing minutes, however, he was out of position away from the net allowing two easy goals (including one at the buzzer) for the Dominican Republic.  With Mexico capable of beating the Dominican Republic, the bloated 5 goal deficit may come back to haunt the USA in their match against Mexico on Thursday night.

USATH:  USA Men suffer loss to the Dominican Republic: http://usateamhandball.org/news/2011/10/16/usa-men-suffer-loss-to-the-dominican-republic/45016?ngb_id=42

Video Page http://deportesus.terra.com/rumbo-a-2012/videos.html (I couldn’t find a USA – Dominican Highlight, but one may get posted later today.)

The Battles for 2nd Place

The first round of matches for both the Men’s and Women’s competition makes it fairly clear that the familiar sight of Brazil or Argentina at the top of their respective group is unlikely to change.  Accordingly, the only interesting battles will be the ones for second place and to help everyone follow along here are the current standings for each group, throwing out all the matches with Argentina and Brazil

Group A Women (Argentina likely winner)

2) Mexico 1-0-0 2 Points +1 GD
3) Puerto Rico 0-0-0 0 Points 0 GD
4) Chile 0-0-1 0 Points -1 GD

Head to Head Results
Saturday, October 15, Mexico 18, Chile 17
Monday, October 17 Puerto Rico vs Mexico
Wednesday, October 19 Puerto Rico vs Chile

Group B Women (Brazil likely winner)

2) Dominican Republic 0-1-0 1 Point +0 GD
3) Uruguay 0-1-0 1 Point -0 GD
4) USA 0-0-0 0 Points +00 GD

Head to Head Results
Saturday, October 15 Dominican Republic 24, Uruguay 24
Monday, October 17 USA vs Dominican Republic
Wednesday, October 19 USA vs Uruguay
(Note: Due to the Dominican Republic-Uruguay draw, the goal differential in the matches against Brazil could also be important

Group A Men (Brazil likely winner)

2) Chile 1-0-0 2 Points +9 GD
3) Canada 0-0-0 0 Points 0 GD
4) Venezuela 0-0-1 0 Points -9 GD

Head to Head Results
Sunday, October 16, Chile 37, Venezuela 28
Tuesday, October 18 Canada vs Chile
Thursday, October 20 Canada vs Venezuela

Group B Men (Argentina likely winner)

2) Dominican Republic 1-0-0 2 Points +5 GD
3) Mexico 0-0-0 0 Points 0 GD
4) USA 0-0-1 0 Points -5 GD

Head to Head Results
Sunday, October 16, Dominican Republic 27, USA 22
Tuesday, October 18 Mexico vs Dominican Republic
Thursday, October 20 Mexico vs USA

 

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PANAM Games Open: Online video quality looks promising

Team USA at the PANAM Games Opening Ceremonies

The PANAM Games have officially started with the traditional opening ceremonies in Guadalajara, Mexico.  The festivities were shown live at www.terra.com and at www.espn3.com .  Several Handball athletes can be seen in the ESPN3 replay:  http://espn.go.com/watchespn/player/_/source/espn3/id/264854/size/condensed/ (Team USA enters the stadium at the 43:15 mark)

The terra.com website claims that they will have 12 channels in operation during the games and I was able to get a pretty decent video stream when sampling the videos they had available on demand. Hopefully, the same quality will be available for the matches

Terra.com on demand videos:  http://deportesmx.terra.com.mx/rumbo-a-2012/videos.html

Canadian Delegation clip: http://deportesmx.terra.com.mx/rumbo-a-2012/videos/0,,338518.html
USA Delegation clip: http://deportesmx.terra.com.mx/rumbo-a-2012/videos/0,,338568.html

The USA women are scheduled to play against tournament favorites Brazil on Saturday, 15 October at 1:00 PM, (Guadalajara Local Time) which is the same as U.S. Central Time.  (This is 7 hours behind for most Europeans.)  If I find a Direct Link, I’ll post it and the USA website has indicated that they plan on having an open webchat running at the same time.

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Canada at the Jr. World Championships

Canada's Daniel Audette in action vs. Hungary at the Jr World Championships

The Canadian Men’s Jr. Team participated at the International Handball Federation (IHF) Junior World Championships in Greece.  They placed 22nd out of 24 teams with an overall record of 1-0-6.  In Group Play they were not competitive, losing by an average score of 20-47.  In consolation play they fared better beating African representative Benin and losing to Chile in an overtime penalty shootout.  Casper Bilton, who plays club handball in Denmark, led the team in scoring for the tournament with 36 goals.  Alexandre Touzel was the 2nd leading scorer with 21 goals.

The IHF website and French handball website, Handzone, have a couple of feature articles on the team and it’s noted that each player had to pay around $10,000 (Canadian dollars) to participate in qualification competition in Venezuela and the final tournament in Greece.

Handzone Article:”Tough learning for Canada” http://www.handzone.net/asp.net/main.news/news.aspx?id=55715

IHF:  “Canada: Our boys are fantastic”: http://www.ihf.info//MediaCenter/News/NewsDetails/tabid/130/Default.aspx?ID=722

There’s also some pretty good footage from the match against Chile available on Youtube.

Video Highlights (Canada vs. Chile): http://www.youtube.com/user/GreeceHandball2011#p/u/18/cWWxNNj8FV8

Commentary:  While the results for the Canadian team weren’t the best, from an American perspective it’s worth noting that are neighbors to the North were still able to put together a team of 19 and 20 year olds to participate in it.  Judging by the footage of the Chile match this was a credible team that knows how to play handball.  Not to mention the fact that a few of these players are already contributing members of their senior national team.

At this point in time I think the U.S. would be hard pressed to put together a similar team.  Other than our collegiate programs at West Point, Air Force and North Carolina we only have a few other players scattered around the country and a few based in Europe.  I doubt also, whether we have very many players willing to shell out around $10,000 to play.  In short, our talent pool is thinner and without some European transplants we may have well lost to Benin and Chile by 10 goals.  But, I could be wrong about this.  Perhaps we should start a yearly competitive series for Junior and Youth teams against Canada at Lake Placid/Montreal in the Summer months to find out.

Canada Results (Group Play)
Portugal 17:49 (5:25)
Sweden 20:40 (10:20)
Hungary 21:42 (9:19)
Iran 24:45 (16:25)
Spain 17:54 (11:27)

Consolation Play
Benin 23:22 (12:12) (Crossover 21-24th place)
Chile 26:27 (10:11) (Match for 22nd place)

Canadian Roster: http://www.ihf.info/files/CompetitionData/119/pdf/CAN.pdf
Canadian Cumulative Stats: http://www.ihf.info/files/CompetitionData/119/pdf/CANTOTAL.pdf