By Ron Guillet
Shawn Swords returned from the 2013 Universiade Games in Russia in which he was an assistant coach for Team Canada.
The coaching staff included former Toronto Raptors coach Jay Triano as head coach, current Waterloo Warriors bench boss Greg Francis, and the newest head coach in the Ontario University Athletics, John Campbell, from the University of Toronto.
Team Canada’s men’s basketball team fell short in their quest for a medal after losing to Russia in the semi-finals and then dropping the bronze medal game to Serbia by a score of 87-74.
Canada opened the tournament with a 15-point win over Sweden. They followed that up by dominating the United Arab Emirates by a 94-point margin before rallying a comeback against the Australians to take their third game by a score of 92-83. The team then claimed victory over Czech Republic, winning by a 31-point margin. In their final group game against the USA, Canada outscored them in three out of four quarters for a 94-85 win and earned first place in Group C with a perfect 5-0 record.
In the quarterfinals, Canada edged out Brazil with an 88-77 victory en route to a clash with the host Russians in the semis. After their defeat, the Canadians came out strong against Serbia but faltered in the fourth quarter, as they were outscored 26-11, and ultimately returned home without a medal.
Swords represented Canada at the event as a player in 1995 and 1997. He picked up a bronze medal in his first tournament in Fukuoka, Japan, and then won silver in 1997 as they dropped the gold medal game to the Americans in Sicily, Italy.
Swords played against NBA players such as Ray Allen, Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson back when he competed on the court. Swords said he had to utilize a tactical approach to contain such players and that the experience helped him develop as a player and coach.
“It was quite interesting playing against NBA legends from the time they were in college and throughout their NBA careers,” Swords said. “I learned specifically how to try to take them out of their games and learned how to outsmart them because I definitely wasn’t quicker, stronger or more talented.”
Swords hopes his experience as a coach with Team Canada will aid the development of a Voyageurs team coming off their best season in over 10 years.
“There are always new things to learn from this tournament that I can bring to the Voyageurs,” Swords said. “There are different ideas from the coaching staff that I worked with, and different offenses that you see other countries using, among other things. Learning to scout and game plan in a short period is invaluable.”
The Voyageurs start their regular season Nov. 1 on the road against the Warriors.