Pinske's summer of hoops includes stop with Canadian Senior National Team
Jan. 8, 2010
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
JOE SUNNEN - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
As far as summer vacation stories go, Western Washington University junior Megan Pinske has one that's pretty tough to top.
What started out as an opportunity to participate as a practice player with the Canadian Senior National Team turned into full blown roster spot and a chance to compete in the FIBA Americas Championship in Brazil.
It ended with a bronze medal, a once-in-lifetime athletic opportunity and a trump card among her teammates and friends when the subject of summer break comes up.
"It definitely wasn't the summer I had planned," Pinske said in a phone interview. "It was easily the most exciting time of my life."
For Pinske, a junior guard on the Vikings' women's basketball team, just the chance to practice with the team during their training camp would have been enough to make her summer a great one. But when an injury to a team member during exhibition play in Cuba left on opening on the roster it meant one of her wildest dreams was about to come true.
"When (coach Allison McNeill) called and asked me if I wanted to come to Brazil I couldn't believe it. I've always dreamed of playing for the Senior National team."
Pinske's no stranger to playing high-level international basketball. She's competed on the Canadian Under-21 National Team in the past as well as the Junior Women's National Team among others.
Still, playing on a team that's one step below playing in the Olympics was hard to fathom at times for the 21-year-old. She tried to learn as much as she could while playing with many of her country's best women's basketball players.
"You learn pretty quickly what you need to work on," Pinske said. "It's hard to put into words. I was pretty happy to be there and learning from some very skilled and talented players."
The opportunity also helped ready her for the college season at WWU.
With the national team, Pinske spent time at point guard, shooting guard and small forward. She's played the same role for Western this season, usually as the first person off the bench for the Vikings, who are off to a 10-2 start.
Western entertains No.5-ranked and defending Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion Alaska Anchorage on Saturday, Jan. 9, at Carver Gym. The game tips off at 7 p.m.
Playing so many different positions has been an adjustment for Pinske, who's mostly played guard throughout her career. So far she's handled it well. She's averaging 7.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game for the Vikings and leads the team with 3.9 assists per contest.
"There are different things to be aware of with each position so it's been a transition," Pinske said. "When I'm playing (forward) I have to focus on rebounding. When I'm (point guard) I have to push the ball up the court and set the tempo. When I'm at (shooting guard) it's about shooting the ball."
The experience of playing with the Canadian Senior National Team also helped her confidence. Not only did it make her more comfortable with her skills as a college basketball player, but it also inspired her to chase her dreams of reaching the highest levels of Canadian international basketball.
She has her fingers crossed that she'll get another invitation to practice with and possibly tryout for the senior national team when it competes at the 2010 World Championships this summer. The national team edged Cuba 59-49 in overtime of the bronze medal game in Brazil to earn the trip.
"It was an inspiring experience," Pinske said. "I was only 20 at the time and it made me realize I still have a lot of years left to keep getting better bit by bit. I'm hoping the work I did this summer just builds and builds."
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