Starting the process of making change
You know why basketball’s better than golf? No rain delays. Man, days can get long when you have to be at the course at 7:30 a.m. to finish off the day before and don’t get out until after dark. Other than that? It’s not a bad gig. Fresh air. The odd bout of sunshine. And no deadline pressure.
Have a feeling it’s gonna be pretty quiet, hoopwise, this week so not sure what we’ll get in this little space. Got a lot of pre-Olympic stuff to do – the baseball team’s here, meetings, banking (you know how hard it is to find Yuan?) – but I’m sure some basketball stuff will pop up.
So here we go.
Did get off the course in time on Friday to catch the USA-Canada game (that wise tout who said take the Americans and give the 45 was pretty sharp, no?) and have to say I came away absolutely unimpressed.
No one thought Canada would win but keeping the game within 50 would have been a goal that they should have reached.
The last time I was speaking to the big boys over at Canada Basketball, they suggested the debriefing would begin today and that’s not a moment too soon.
It’s too easy to say change the coach and all will be right because the problems, and work, goes much, much deeper than that.
There are structural issues to resolve too and, as a public service, here’s a suggestion they should feel free to use.
I’d think about hiring at Director of Basketball Operations for the men’s program, one guy to oversee the senior, junior and developmental teams, a guy to go out and coach the coaches because that’s the only way they’re going to develop long-term success – starting with the kids.
Then I’d find someway to establish a national team hierarchy that includes a bunch of “old heads.” I’d find some way to convince Steve Nash to become the head of the group, I’d involve Jay Triano and Gord Herbert in advisory capacities and there’d be a role for Leo in there, too.
We don’t have enough sharp global basketball minds in this country to alienate any of them.
Maybe this group can help convince Euroleague teams to take a chance on some young Canadians because that’s where we need the players playing.
As for coaching? I don’t think you need a full-time “coach” who criss-crosses the country making speeches and conducting clinics.
I think they could hire a coach – to coach the players he’s given, rather than someone who picks his own team – on a summer contract each year. Maybe the guy has some European experience, maybe not. But he needs, I think, to be disassociated from the selection process as much as possible.
Will this work? I have no idea. But I presume something like this will be on the table when the discussions start today.
I don’t know about this Nathan Jawai character.
He’s in town and was supposed to help Jason Kapono out yesterday judging the tryouts for the Dance Pak but had to bail because he was, allegedly, sick.
Hmm. Passing on Dance Pak judging? I wonder.
Chalk up another sizeable step for Canada Basketball in programs that aren’t the senior men.
The women’s under-18 team went 4-1 (beating Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Puerto Rico, losing to the States) at the world qualification tournament on the weekend in Buenos Aires.
That’s a rather significant accomplishment and the experienced they’ll glean at next year’s worlds will be hugely important in the long-term development of the game.
Toss in the fact the men’s under-18 also qualified and that’s a great thing for the future.
I hear old friend Pape Sow’s about to sign with Armani Jeans Milano of the Italian league. Guess they needed a replacement for Danilo Gallinari.
And with Garbo and Carlos both in Russia and The Gangster in Rome, are the Raptors now being the EuroRaptors in reverse? Stocking teams over there rather than stocking their roster with Euros?
And before you ask, there was no way Pape was coming back here.
Here’s a rather lengthy one from the mail:
Q: A comment, and a question that you will probably - for good reason - not be willing to answer right now.
First, the comment - I know that I am not alone in commending you for continuing the blog - on a regular basis - far beyond the end of the Raptors season. But, I also want to point out that I, from time to time, check in on other blogs - by Star writers and in other publications. And I have to say, although I still am not sure exactly what a blog really is, yours is, BY FAR, the absolute best. And the reason I say that - yours is the ONLY one I have visited that is truly INTERACTIVE.
The others post their feelings in their blog, and then allow 'us' to comment. You not only allow us to comment, but, very often, you reply to the comment.
For that reason alone, my first 'read' of the day is not your current blog - although I certainly do get to that quickly enough - but rather, yesterday's blog, and comments, AND RESPONSES. I glean almost as much info from your responses to our comments as I do from the blog itself.
I have not seen another blog that works that way. Your extra effort is truly appreciated - that is what makes your blog truly exceptional!
Now to the question: You have made it abundantly clear (although it seems that many readers have missed that point - time and time again!) that the 13th spot on the Raptors roster will be a 'combo guard' that fits their needs, AND their financial abilities. I am not going to suggest, as others might, that, in order to fill this position, they package Joey and Leo to get Kobe.
But, I do wonder, based on your knowledge of the way the Raptors and the NBA work, is your best guess that that person will be a Raptor before the end of July; before the middle of August; or in the latter part of August?
And, as a side note, what do you think that 13th player (who may not be the 13th player on the depth chart) will/should bring to the table?
Keep up the great work! You're my #1 read of each day!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated.
If I had to guess, we won’t be hearing about any 13th man signing until late-August. A lot of teams are starting to shut things down now for some much needed R and R; a lot of basketball people are turning their attention to the Olympics and even agents have to get some down time.
Someone may emerge during the Games but I’d bet it’s after, like first week of September.
Now, what should they bring?
The biggest thing is a willingness to be a 13th man, if you know what I mean. Someone who will accept a role as a basically a practice player but someone who, on the very odd occasion they’re needed to, can handle 15 or 20 minutes in a game or two. I agree it should be a combo guard who can make shots in a hurry.
The trouble is, if you’ve got guys on your roster, you don’t want them just there to collect a paycheque so finding a balance between a player who knows his role and someone competitive enough to push teammates in practice is hard.
Here’s something to look for tomorrow. Disgraced ref Tim Donaghy’s going to be sentenced. I don’t know much about the American justice system – except that every now and then it seems quite screwed up – but I’d think he gets a nice long sentence.