Roundballer scores Germany adventure

SLt Connor Duke gets in shooting practice at the Naden Athletic Centre. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout Newspaper

SLt Connor Duke gets in shooting practice at the Naden Athletic Centre. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout Newspaper

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A good year just got better for SLt Connor Duke, a talented guard with the Tritons basketball team.

The 24-year-old, 6’3 shooting guard is set to take his A-game to Warendorf, Germany Sept. 2 to 4, for the CISM (Counseil International du Sport Militaire) Basketball Championship.

This will be his second CISM tournament; last year he represented the Canadian military in South Korea.

“Being able to represent Canada feels pretty great, especially since I never expected to be good enough to play any sport at the international level, let alone basketball,” says SLt Duke who played two seasons for the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., before graduating in 2014.

SLt Duke received another morale boost when it was announced he is the RCN’s command nominee for the annual Canadian Armed Forces sports awards to be held in Ottawa in October.

“For me it definitely feels good to be recognized for what I’ve accomplished and the work I’ve put in on the court playing basketball, but I’m not speaking about this with the intention of looking like a star or something” he says. “Receiving the award and being honoured came as a complete surprise to me. I just want CAF members to know that sports opportunities are out there and all you have to do is ask around.”

His coach Joshua Buck think he’s worthy of the award. He says SLt Duke has a basketball IQ and energy “unparalleled” to other players as soon as he sets foot on the court.

“Connor has the ability to turn his natural competitive spirit into overdrive once the shot clock starts to wind down,” says Buck. “He’s not only an intense competitor but he’s also a respected team captain and leader for our team.”

CISM coach Sandy MacIntosh says SLt Duke has “101 ways to beat you” in his basketball repertoire, adding “He’s got the green light to launch [shoot] it from anywhere on the court.”

In September he’ll line up his jump shot for the first time in Europe. SLt Duke and the Canadian delegation arrive in Germany Aug. 29 for a three-day training camp before facing opponents Germany, France and the United States over three days.

“Our team is quite different in terms of the squad that attended the World Games last year, and I think we will definitely be competitive against our three opponents,” says SLt Duke.

At the World Games last year Canada posted four consecutive losses, including losses to South Korea and the United States before defeating Germany in their final game. SLt Duke says that will put the pressure on him and his teammates who make up Canada’s backcourt.

“I think our biggest weakness is our size because we are a pretty undersized team. We are going to need to be faster and fitter so we can run them into the ground,” he says.

In order to register another victory against Germany and their other opponents, SLt Duke says he and the rest of the team are looking for strong performances from key players SLt Cody Brown, a guard from CFB Halifax, and centre Aviator TJ Rutty from CFB North Bay.

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