This and that and picks for the Eurobasket Final Four
Super Family’s all pumped about the start of Survivor tonight (it’s their DWTS, I personally don’t give a hoot); you should be pumped about all the fun stuff in here this morning.
There was a moment, I’m told, of classic international tournament basketball yesterday over in Poland.
France and Greece are tied in the dying seconds, winner wins the group. France makes a shot at the buzzer to win and the celebration? Well, more on the Greek side than the French.
The win gets France into the quarters against Spain today; Greece gets Turkey tomorrow and, apparently, that’s the most amenable matchup to the Greeks.
Check out this story courtesy of Truehoop to see what I mean.
It’s common, actually, that teams kind of jockey for position in the second round of these events to get what they think is a better quarter-final matchup.
Now that I think of it, it could be “tanking” and we all know how I feel about that.
We’re in the bowels of the Air Canada Centre yesterday talking to Jay about coaching – you can see the newspaper fruits of our labour here – and spied a couple of familiar faces.
One new, one not so new.
Andrea came wandering out of the locker room after his daily workout, looking fine, big, healthy and happy.
Didn’t get to chat for very long but the feeling I got – and am getting from others that I talk to who know him well – is that he’s very glad to be back in Canada.
His time with the Italian national team wasn’t great by any means. He didn’t play particularly well, they lost, there were some issues between he and the coaching staff and the best part of the summer is that it’s over.
I don’t think any of it will have any impact whatsoever on his time in Toronto this year, especially the coaching issue.
If there’s one thing we can all agree on it’s that Bargnani has great respect for, and played well under, Jay. Can’t imagine why that would have changed.
The other guy?
Well, I turn around and there’s this familiar face coming out of the locker room, a face that signals some behind-the-scenes change that could have some impact on how things unfold.
He’s John Lee, an old friend and a former member of Jay’s staff with the national team way back in the day. Good guy, positive, hard-worker.
He takes over for Keith D’Amelio as the team’s assistant strength and conditioning coach; Keith’s gone on to greater things as the head man at Stanford.
Scott McCulloch’s still around as the head trainer and Francesco Cuzzolin’s the head strength and conditioning guy.
Oh yeah, speaking of Greece, when it comes to next summer and so many of you are wondering when on earth Giorgos Printezis is going to ride across the Atlantic and make his mark on the NBA, consider this:
He cannot play at Eurobasket; why in the world would anyone think he can play in the NBA?
Word I’m hearing is CNP, which differs from DNP in the same way Cannot differs from Didn’t.
Heard there were some fights in the arena last night? Hope people didn’t miss getting hot dogs because of the truculence. That would be too bad.
So the First Lady Of The Beat and I are standing around talking to Jay about coaching yesterday when another subject came up.
The Olympics, which I hear are going to be somewhere in these parts soon.
Anyway, my Learned Colleague asks Jay if he’s been asked to take part in the torch relay, like Steve Nash told us he was when Nash was in town a week or so ago.
No, says Jay.
Odd, thinks I.
Wouldn’t it make sense to ask a guy with a prestigious Olympic background (screwed by politicians in ’84 on the boycott, played in ’88 in Seoul, provided one of the great stories as a coach in ’00), a connection to the Vancouver area and a high profile to do something?
Makes sense to me. How about you?
I know, he’s summer, it’s winter but, really, does that matter?
I’m telling you, getting him involved on, say, the Thursday before the Games begin, which also happens to be an off-night heading into the all-star break for the Raptors and the night Nash will be doing his gig, makes a wee bit of sense, no?
Anyone out there listening?
Mail’s a little low, kids. And the weekend approacheth.
Oh yeah, ran into Alvin yesterday, too.
He’s been in town a week or so working guys out, was out in L.A. working guys out last month and, just for kicks, he’s still playing some high level ball when he gets back to Philly in the summer.
I swear, if they need a 10-day guy in January, they oughta give him a look.
You want a darkhorse – well, a relative darkhorse, I guess – at the EuroBasket?
I’m told Slovenia’s playing as well as anyone there, even without Rasho!
One of their best? The Gangster, who looks really good in the estimation of one guy there whose opinion I trust.
I don’t know this for certain because I’ve never laid eyes on the guy but the talk around ACC is that there’s a striking resemblance between Sonny Weems and Joey Graham.
No idea if that translates into talent but, really, where else can you get this kind of arcane information to get you through another off-day in the summer?
Some of you may know that I do a wee bit of coaching in the summer (Hi, Playoff Champion Mighty Yankees!!!) so this thing Jay’s hooked up with is pretty cool in my estimation.
Coaches, and I’m talking about the volunteers at the lower levels, often do get short shrift around these parts. Anything anyone can do to give ‘em a pat on the back is greatly appreciated.
Go here and if your guy or gal is worthy, send along a nomination.
I’ve got Serbia, France, Turkey and Slovenia in the Euro quarters. You?