TORONTO (FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup 2017) - When Canada take to the floor at the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup 2017, it's likely few coaches will be as prepped as Carly Clarke.
The Ryerson University women’s coach has already held the reins with Canada at the FIBA U17 Women’s World Championship three years ago and is keen to move on to the next chapter of her own development as she draws upon those previous experiences.
"Having coached at the Worlds before, even though at a different age group, I am well aware of the variation in style of play different nations can present," mused Clarke.
"I believe the awareness and experience I bring in that regard will hopefully leave us well prepared for what we could see.
"Beyond that, I think embracing, with our team, how special of an experience it is to compete in a world championship tournament - being sure that we enjoy the journey as we compete for an opportunity at a medal.
"Our team, with myself included, will have people who have competed and won important, pressure filled games at FIBA events. This is something which will hopefully allow us to display composed confidence, but more importantly to key in on the preparation and details we know it takes to be ready for such an event.
"I believe our team will once again present itself as being very versatile - we have a number of players who can play different positions and attack in different ways depending on match-ups.
"A defining attribute all our Canadian teams pride ourselves on is our defense and we expect that to show itself with this team. We did a solid jump rebounding last summer, something which will remain a point of emphasis for us.
"We will have to improve in our ability to take care of the ball - we are a team that is willing to move and share the ball, but we must be sure to make strong decisions and not turn it over."
Standing in Canada's way during the opening phase of the competition in Udine and Cividale del Friuli are France, Korea and Latvia, with Clarke looking forward to the challenge ahead.
Clarke said: "We know there are no easy games and we expect that to continue again this summer in Italy. We know that Korea will bring an up-tempo style that we will have to be ready to adjust to quickly. Obviously facing France, the top European team from last summer, will provide a good challenge early on for how we measure up against the best, and what we will need to do throughout the rest of the tournament to be successful. And with Latvia, we know that they are always well prepared and a tough matchup, as the European nations always are."
Canada finished second at last year's FIBA Americas U18 Women's Championship and they have reached the top eight of the last four editions of the U19 World Cup.