We're closing in on the start of it all
Can you sense it?
One week ‘til it starts for real and we can begin figuring out who’s on what team and why.
Oh, and what the local Heroes of the Hardcourt might look like.
Until then …
All right, let’s say you’re a bunch of NBA coaches, you’re off on a “retreat” for a weekend, you’ve got a team with about 75 per cent turnover from last year, when you were bad and missed the playoffs.
What do you do?
Well, not having had a chance to talk to, oh, the head coach of said staff, we can only surmise how the lads spent their weekend so we will surmise:
The etiquette of buying beat grunts dinner on the road.
Tell them at the time of invitation? Surprise them after the meal? Sit in another part of the restaurant and silently pick up the tab?
Leaking news the right way.
Phone call? Text? Smoke signal? Get someone else to do it and have deniability?
Free time for private reflection.
Where do the writers hang? Do they travel in packs or individually? What are their tendencies.
Practice plans, defending the screen and roll, defensive philosophies, possible starting lineups, offensive sets, all the mundane basketball chores.
Call grunts, tell ‘em what happened.
How good is Spain?
Check this legacy out:
2006, won world championships
2007, lost Eurobasket final in final minutes
2008, Olympic silver, extended Americans in epic final.
2009, won first Eurobasket title ever.
That’s a quadrennial to be proud of, isn’t it?
And one thing to notice is that this is the same group, pretty much, that’s been around all four years, proving once again that some kind of roster continuity is of huge significance for the short international season.
The United States found that out the hard way, it wasn’t until they got long-term, year-to-year commitments to the program that they were able to ascend to the top of the world, again.
And, to a lesser degree, the case can be made that that’s why Canada was finally successful in getting to a big, global tournament this summer for the first time in a long time.
Yes, the depth of talent and individual skill level of the Canadians may not be as great as other countries but there’s obviously something to be said for building a core group, keeping it together for summer after summer and watching it improve.
Now, the question here is: When do they start making subtle changes?
Is it next year, to build toward the 2014 world championships in Spain? Is it time to start “growing” another team with longer term goals in mind?
I think it probably is.
As I’ve said before, an infusion of young kids next year at the worlds, gaining experience and creating some kind of familiarity, is huge for the long-term success of the senior program.
So, what’s up this week with the Raptors? Well, really not much.
I presume everyone will be in town by mid-week (I know the coaches and management would like that) and all it’ll be are informal workouts and getting the details taken care of before media day a week from today.
The one odd thing on these informal workouts that I’d kind of forgotten until last Friday: No coaches, no “official” work.
It was staffers and ball boys and some of the training staff hanging around, nary a coach in sight.
Don’t for a minute think they – and Bryan – aren’t acutely aware of what’s going on in the gym, it’s just a wink-wink, nod-nod kind of situation.
How big a night is this?
Remember, Debi Deby Mazar’s the darkhorse.
And I hear Julianne Hough’s taking the season off? That bites.
Speaking of the world championships, the European reps next summer in Turkey (where I should be, right boss?) are:
And Turkey as the hosts.
Not bad for France, eh? They had to go through that extra qualifying round and still got to the worlds.
Not very good for Russia, eh? They won the 2007 Euros, beating Spain in Spain, but haven’t directly qualified for Turkey.
But I bet they’ll be there.
Remember, FIBA’s got four “wild card” spots to hand out and I’d presume Russia, given its history, gets one.
You can make a case for a lot of other countries and I have no idea how the poohbahs at FIBA think but if they want to round out the field with countries where the game is growing, countries that have displayed growth in their programs over the past four years, countries that are truly developing, I give the four wild cards to: Russia
Macedonia for their showing at in Poland
Not sure if there’s another European team worthy, I imagine there is but one spot, I bet, will go to an African nation.
They’ve already got Angola, Ivory Coast and Tunisia qualified, Cameroon and Nigeria were the next two teams and I can see FIBA taking them both.
I do not see another FIBA Americas team getting a berth.
The wild cards are being announced Dec. 13.
Okay, the remnants of Hurricane Catch 22 are all around the house, time to go clean up after the marauding – yet very fun – gaggle of Dragon Boaters.
Oh, and some work, too, I guess.