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Martin Riley
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Martin Riley

One of the top players to ever come out of Manitoba, Martin Riley was a standout National Team player for Canada during the late seventies and early eighties. A 5’11" point guard, Riley was known as a dedicated player who was famous for his tenacious defence, his focus and above all, his legendary work ethic. The legend of Martin Riley’s training and dedication to the sport of basketball began to take shape over 30 years ago in the mid-1970’s at the University of Manitoba. As a starter with Bisons, Riley would put himself through gruelling practice and training sessions that lasted a minimum of three hours, and went as long as eight hours on some occasions. An elite performer at the CIAU level, a typical training day for Riley would consist of a 20-mile run to campus, shooting drills, positional drills, dribbling drills, push-ups, sit-ups and sprints – all before the team’s scheduled practice later that day. During his Hall of Fame career Riley became so focused on the game of basketball that he scarcely missed one of his daily training sessions. In fact, to make sure he got as much gym time as he body could absorb, Riley would sneak into local gymnasiums to satisfy his thirst for excellence. It was this dedication and effort that allowed Riley to become one of the few players to make the Canadian National Team out of high school in 1973 at the age of 17. During his National Team career, Riley was a member of the 1976 team that placed fourth at the Montreal Olympics and was the captain of the 1980 Olympic team that did not participate due to the boycott. Apart from the Olympics, Riley also represented Canada at the 1974 and 1978 FIBA World Championships, the 1975 and 1979 Pan American Games, and the 1977 and 1979 World University Games. Riley’s road to basketball greatness began in the gymnasium of Sisler High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As a senior with the Spartans in 1972-73, he led the squad to a perfect 35-0 and the province’s 4A title. After graduating from Sisler, Riley enrolled at the University of Manitoba where he began to establish a reputation as one of the best players provincially to ever lace up a pair of hightops. During his five years with the Bisons, Riley was named an All-Canadian three times and led the school to the 1976 CIAU Championship. That same year he was also honoured as the CIAU Player of the Year. After graduating from Manitoba with degree in Physical Education, Riley suited up for Nicolett Inn and led the squad to back-to-back Canadian Senior Men's Championships in 1979 and 1980. Riley then took his talents overseas and played professionally with Argentina’s River Plate, during the 1980-81 season. After retiring from the sport, Riley was inducted into the Manitoba Basketball, the Manitoba Sports and the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame. Today, Martin Riley can still be found in local gymnasiums for hours on end – although now it’s as a physical education teacher at Miles Mac Collegiate in Winnipeg. An instructor at the institution for the past 13 years, Riley once again made headlines after transforming a traditionally weak basketball program into two-time provincial 4A champions during his seven-year stint as head coach. Further proof that Martin Riley focus and legendary work ethic are still alive and well in the province of Manitoba.

From Basketball Canada