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A busy week for Oshawa basketball

Oshawa Power draft picks Blain Labranche, Morgan Lewis and Kevin Francis pose after their selection in the NBL's inaugural draft.

August 24, 2011

By Geoff Zochodne/The Oshawa Express

More than 150 submissions were sent in as part of the team-naming contest for Oshawa’s new National Basketball League (NBL) of Canada’s franchise.

In the end, the team’s moniker was chosen, not from a fan’s suggestion but from a thematic mash-up of those submitted.

Turns out, despite the immortal rhymes of Chuck D, you cannot fight the Power.

The team’s name is the Oshawa Power.

According to a release from the team, “(t)he name Power epitomizes the force of a community coming together as one. The team hopes to emulate those words in their play on the court in its inaugural season as they represent the city of Oshawa.” 

Perhaps an even more important was the announcement of former NBA player Mark Strickland as the head coach of the Oshawa club.

Strickland attended Temple University in Philadelphia before spending eight years in the NBA playing for Indiana, Miami, New Jersey, Denver, Atlanta and Dallas. After his time on the court ended, Strickland began a career as a scout and coach for various franchises, including the Cleveland Magic and the NBA D-League’s Bakersfield Jam.
"I can't wait to get up there to Oshawa, no time to rest, it's time to work. I want to win right away,” says Strickland in a release.

The Oshawa Power’s President of Basketball Operations Gary Durrant had high praise for the selection of Strickland.

“Today is a great day for Oshawa Power Basketball. I am thrilled with our hiring of

Mark Strickland as our first ever head coach. Coach Strickland has had experience at every level of basketball, both as a player and as a coach,” says Durrant.

“He will be a role model and someone that both the players and community will find inspiring and hard working. I can’t wait to bring him into the schools to speak and engage with our student athletes. In speaking with him, it was immediately apparent that family and community are truly important to coach Strickland.”


Oshawa drafts Lewis first overall


The Oshawa Power also brought in its first wave of players during the NBL’s weekend draft. With the first overall selection the Power took Morgan Lewis, a 6’4’’ guard from the University of Findlay.

Coach Strickland sounded enthused by the selection of Lewis.

“He’s very versatile. He’s very mature, humble and hungry, those are the types of players we’re looking for,” Strickland explains in a dispatch from the draft. “He was a great pick for us.”

Oshawa went Canadian with its next two selections, drafting Brampton native Kevin Francis and Edmonton product and UBC alum Blain Labranche.

Francis, a 6’8’’ forward, played his college basketball at Cleveland State. His reaction to his new team played out like a homecoming.

“Feels great being the second pick for this team,” says Francis in a release. “Oshawa is close to home, it’s a great situation for me.”

Francis’ new head coach had some positive things to say about the forward.

“He has size, great hands, active on the defensive end, talking, had a great attitude, so we did really well with those first two picks,” notes Strickland.

By all accounts, Labranche, picked in the third round, will be one of the Power’s premier shooters.

“I’m glad I’m going to Oshawa, out of the seven teams this is probably the place I wanted to go to the most,” says Labranche, adding, “My strength is three point shooting, but I can get to the hoop, I can finish and get my teammates the ball. Ultimately I like to win, I’m a winner and I’ll do anything it takes to win.”

Oshawa’s first game will be on October 30 in Quebec City. The team’s first home game will be November 3 against Moncton.

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