Clarion’s Own Mike Taylor Set To Guide Fraser Valley Bandits In CEBL 2022 Season

(All practice images courtesy Fraser Valley Bandits – above: Mike (front row giving #1 sign) and his Fraser Valley Bandits.)

Former Clarion Area High School basketball and football standout Mike Taylor, who earlier this year accepted the Head Coaching position with the Fraser Valley Bandits of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL), is set to lead the team in the 2022 season which begins tomorrow night (Wednesday, May 25th), visiting the Ottawa Black Jacks.

Mike is the first coach in CEBL history who has experience as head coach of both an NBA G League and an International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup Team. 2013-14: Mike was head coach of the Main Red Claws of the NBA G-League from 2012-14 and was the Polish National Team head coach from 2014-2021 and the Hamburg Towers (Germany Bundesliga – German 1st Division) 2018/19 season.

(Fraser Valley Bandits image: Mike sharing finer points of the game)

The Bandits play their home games in the Langley Events Centre (Capacity – 5,276), in Langley British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver.

The league currently consists of ten teams from six different provinces: five from Ontario, and one each from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador, which makes the CEBL the largest professional sports league based entirely in Canada. The Teams include the Fraser Valley Bandits, Edmonton Stingers, Guelph Night Hawks, Hamilton Honey Badgers, Montreal Alliance, Newfoundland Growlers, Niagara River Lions (St. Catherines, Ontario), Ottawa Blackjacks, Saskatchewan Rattlers and Scarborough Shooting Stars.

The Bandits will play three games in southern Ontario, including this Friday, May 27th, against Hamilton, with all being a day trip from the Clarion area. The others include Niagara River, in St. Catherines on Monday, July 25th and Scarborough, which plays at the University of Toronto, on Thursday, July 28th.

The CEBL also broadcasts many games.

(Links to the schedule, roster, tickets and broadcasts are at the bottom of the article.)

Mike shared his thoughts on the 2022 Bandits:
First impressions from the team in training camp have been excellent.  We have a lot of positive energy in the gym and a well balanced roster.  I am really enjoying the players and coaches and we have worked very hard to establish our foundation.

What attracted me about the CEBL is it looks like a fun league and a new adventure.  It’s a league on the rise and I’m happy to be a part of a quality organization like Fraser Valley.  British Columbia is beautiful and the facilities here in Langley are outstanding. 

(Mike likes what he says)

General Manager Kyle Julius has done a very good job of building a roster featuring high character, team players and team President Dylan Kular has helped make my start in the Valley very smooth.

Our team features veteran Bandit names Alex Campbell and Malcolm Duvivier who are two-way players and give us strength on the wing.  I like the combination we have at point guard with Canadian Kadre Gray and Australian Kyle Adnam.  We also have a two good four men with Maxi Esho and Murphy Burnatowski. 

(Mike with his well-know intensity, instructing the Bandits)

One of the aspects of the CEBL I really like is the USPORTS concept which allows college players to practice and play with teams and we have in my opinion the best Canadian big man in Thomas Kennedy from the University of Windsor.  I have enjoyed working with these guys and everyone in our training camp.  We are all working for a big summer.

We have a few games in the southern Ontario area playing against teams like the Niagara River Lions and Scarborough Shooting Stars mid-summer.  The border is open so I’m hopeful my Dad and family can make those games.  They would be the closest for any fans to see from the Clarion area or Western Pennsylvania.

And what drew Mike to the Bandits?

I remember watching Kyle (Julious the Bandits’ General Manager) play in high school at Hamilton Ontario Cathedral high. The former head coach there, Mark Walton is a legend in high school basketball in Canada and he was very good to me as a young coach. I remember recruiting Cathedral hard and Kyle was a big part of very successful teams there in the late 1990s.     

(Bandit player letting a jumper fly)

Kyle and I would bump into each other at NBA Summer League and overseas events in Las Vegas through recent years.         

As we talked about the CEBL and specifically Fraser Valley I see it as a rising, fun league and there is quality there in the young organization.  Kyle has done an excellent job establishing the culture and I hope we can put together a great team and make a great run this summer.   

Mike shared  

One unique aspect of the CEBL is the Elam Ending (special rules adopted by the NBA All-Star Game etc. for the end of games). I’ve had fun in TBT (“The Basketball Tournament”) in 2018 with Team Fredette so this is excellent experience to build from. I think Nick Elam is really creative and intelligent and it will be really interesting to coach the Elam Ending consistently. 

(Description of the Elam Ending from The TBT websight: Designed to preserve a more natural end of game finish, the Elam Ending® calls for the game clock to be shut off in the fourth quarter. A Target Score is set by adding 8 points to the leading team’s score. The first team to reach the Target Score wins. For example, if the score is 80-72, the Target Score becomes 88. The first team to reach 88 wins. Once the game clock is eliminated, trailing teams are allowed to focus on getting stops, rather than preventing the clock from running out. This results in great defense and pure basketball possessions all the way through the end.)

To close out this article, I’d like to share some highlights of Mike’s illustrious professional coaching career.

His Polish National Team made the 2021 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Kaunas, Lithuania, advancing to the semifinals. The tournament was eventually won by Slovenia and Luka Doncic.. . A highlight of 2021 was 17 year old Jeremy Sochan’s debut, on February 21st, making him the youngest player in the history of the Polish National Team.

(Polish National Team image – Polish National Olympic Qualifying Tournament Team)

Team Poland qualified for three straight EuroBasket Tournaments (2015, 2017, 2023), winning their Qualifying Groups in 2014 and 2016. They went 5-1 both years, with the 2014 squad having the best scoring offense, in all qualifications.

In addition to the three EuroBasket appearances with Team Poland, Mike also was an assistant coach for Czech Republic, which made EuroBasket Tournament, in Slovenia in 2013. 

Mike led Poland to first win over Spain in forty-eight years, on February 20, 2020, during the EuroBasket qualifiers in Zaragoza, Spain, an 80-69 victory.  

Team Poland improved their FIBA World Ranking from #42 in 2014 to their current #13 standing.

After taking over as Team Poland’s Head Coach, Mike worked in the Polish National Basketball Federation (PZKOSZ) as consultant for the Polish Basketball League (PLK).

(Hamburg Towers image: Hamburg Towers – German Pro A Championship)

Mike’s other team, the Hamburg Towers, won the German Pro A (second division) Championship and earned Promotion into the German Bundesliga in 2018/19

(Mike celebrating the Aufstieg promotion into German Bundesliga late April in Chemnitz, Germany Hamburg Towers won game 5 on the road to win the series and earn the Aufstieg)

Thanks to Chris Rossetti and for providing the following information!

After graduating from Clarion High, Taylor went on to play at IUP and was a member of the Indians (the team’s nickname at the time) from 1991-95 helping the squad to the NCAA Division II Final Four in 1995, the NCAA Division II Elite 8 in 1994, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Title in 1995, PSAC West titles in 1994 and 1995, and a PSAC runner-up finish in 1994.

Mike Taylor’s Coaching Resume`
1996-96: Clarion Golden Eagles (Graduate Assistant)
1997-00: IUP Indians (Assistant Coach)
2001: Pittsburg St. Gorillas (Assistant Coach)
2002: Chemnitz 99ers (Germany 3rd Division) (Head coach)
2002: Dodge City Legends (United States Basketball League) (Head coach)
2003: DG Essex Leopards (British Basketball League) (Head coach)
2003-11: Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany 2nd Division 2003-05; Germany Bundesliga – Germany 1st Division 2006-11) (Head coach)
2004-05: Kansas Cagerz (United States Basketball League (Head Coach)
2010-13: Czech Republic National Team (Assistant coach in the summer)
2012: Rio Grande Valley Vipers (NBA D-League) (Assistant Coach for Nick Nurse)
2013-14: Main Red Claws (NBA G-League) (Head coach) (Named All-Star Game head coach)
2014-21: Polish National Team (Head coach)
2018: Team Fredette (TBAT 2018) (Head coach)
2019: Hamburg Towers (Germany Bundesliga – German 1st Division) (Head Coach)
Assistant for Czech Republic national team summers 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013
2022-present: Fraser Valley Bandits (Canadian Elite Basketball League) (Head Coach)

(Congratulations Mike!!!! Hoping for a great season for you and the Bandits!!!!)

Link to schedule:

Link to roster:

Link to tickets:

Link to broadcasts: