Getting back to normal and clearing up some mail
Okay, I’m not entirely sure what day it or what time it is so I think it’s going to be an easy morning.
Some items of general interest, lots of mail left over from the trip and the memory of an eight-hour flight home from Zurich spent sitting next to a crying, fidgety seven- or eight-month-old who was in THE VERY NEXT SEAT and wailed almost the entire time to expunge from my mind.
So much for high drama in the round of 16 over there, right?
Turkey drills Greece France easily; Spain rolls, Russia has no problems at all with New Zealand (I was a bit surprised at the margin of victory) and, really, only Serbia-Croatia was much of a game. I fully expect Lithuania to kill China in a couple of hours but the next one – Argentina-Brazil – should be a doozy.
I need to find a spot to see that one. We’ll go over the quarters here tomorrow once I get life back to some sense of normalcy.
I am all in favour of the Zurich airport, if it matters at all. Good restaurants, good shopping (if you’re so inclined) and big enough that wandering around hither and yon for about seven hours didn’t seem, you know, repetitive. I would go nuts if I had to be penned in at Pearson for more than, say, 45 minutes because once you’ve walked by Pizza Pizza, Starbucks and Tim Horton’s, you’re petty much done.
Last kick at the Turkey travelogue, okay? I have to admit I much preferred Izmir to Istanbul for the time I was there. Sure, there wasn’t nearly as much history, of course, but there was something about being a five-minute walk from the relaxing Aegean, the people seemed a bit more friendly and it wasn’t nearly a hectic.
Don’t’ get me wrong, Istanbul is amazing but we were staying in what could be compared to something like a Marriott Courtyard about a 25-minute ride from anywhere you’d want to go with nothing in our neighbourhood.
And the sheer crush of people at the bazaar, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia – even on a drizzly Sunday morning – was almost too much to take. Guess that says more about me than the cities, but there you go. I am, however, entirely glad I got to see both.
And now, the leftover mail. Sorry for the delay, just couldn’t find a good day.
Q: Okay Doug, here's a Canada Basketball question for you. To what do you attribute the seeming superiority of Australia's and New Zealand's basketball programs in relation to Canada's? These are two countries of similar or less population than us. They are located well away from the epicenter of the basketball universe, making it far less accessible for them to benefit from the development expertise that is available to Canadians. And both have major sports that would outrank basketball for national popularity. What's your take?
Richard E, TorontoA: I attribute it to three factors, each equally important.
First, the funding level is far higher – especially in government money – there than it is here and money is the gas that runs the program.
Second, the existence of a solid club program for kids and a professional league for them to aspire to cannot be discounted.
And, thirdly, I think sometimes the absolute worst thing for basketball in Canada is the siren song of the behemoth to the south. I think too many of our kids are sold a bill of goods about opportunity and coaching and delusions of grandeur perpetuated by people with their own self-interest heart rather than the kids.
Sure, there are exceptions but I think the overwhelming majority of Canadians drawn to the States are dawn there because we believe the hype we see so much of. I don’t think that’s the case in either Australia or New Zealand.
Q: Now that Canada has been eliminated and the games are getting good, does that mean that none of the games will be broadcast on Canadian TV? Raptors TV has really dropped the ball on this one.
Matthew M, TorontoA: I believe it does although I also know FIBA likes to use its worldwide broadcast rights as a huge money-maker and has been known the past to set a price simply too high to pay. But my search is on for a local that has a good enough satellite to get something from somewhere because watching the quarters, semis and final on a computer screen isn’t something I want to do.
Q: Hello Doug, it's nice to have b-ball that matters again ! Speaking of the Worlds ... What does the national program do/provide, to continue player and team development, between the World Championship tournaments?
Joe U, MarkhamA: It runs “seasons” for each of its eight main programs each summer – development teams, cadets, juniors and seniors –that gets them training camps, exhibition games and either qualification events for world championships or world championships themselves. In the winter, it’s much harder because so many players are scattered around the globe but they do things like run clinics and camps and, last spring for instance, they arranged – with the help of the provinces – to have senior men’s team assistant coach Renato Pasquali conduct a handful of clinics across the country that were as much about coaching the coaches as they were about coaching the kids.
Q: Hi Doug. First off great blog. Secondly, one player who's been impressive thus far in the tournament is Hamed Haddadi of Iran, currently on the Grizzlies. Honestly, it seems like he has made great strides to be a good player, and from the first game, Tiago Splitter couldn't do much to stop him. He's 7'2 with a soft touch and good skillset and he's still young (25). What's your thoughts on him and is there any chance he can be a BC "project"?
Behzad R, WaterlooA: I think he’s a long, long, longshot to ever play a meaningful role with an NBA team and I think there’s as good a chance of you being a BC “project” than there is of him coming to Toronto. He’s a pretty good player internationally, yes; whether he’s anything more than a bit player in the NBA is doubtful.
Q: Hi Doug. Can you recommend a good basketball coaching book for young coaches?
Jeffrey R, BramptonA: Wow, that’s a tough one. I know that a lot of good American college coaches, like the late John Wooden and Dean Smith, have done books that you might be able to find. And I do know there’s a lot of good stuff in a book Jay Triano did a year or so ago that might be a good jumping off point. As for names and where you might buy them, I’d have to point you to Amazon or Chapters or somesuch but if you search for those authors, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Q: Hi Doug. Hope you're enjoying Turkey, and hey, here's a thought: have you started working on your strategy to convince your Benevolent Bosses to send you to Argentina to report from the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship in Mar del Plata? (Perhaps you could reveal (create?) a personal goal of wishing to host in-game blogs from all seven continents??? Has this been done before? And don't you think a venture such as that has a certain, oh, Hemingway-esque allure to it?) But for now, a question: With Bell signed on as a corporate sponsor of Basketball Canada, do you think it's possible the NEDA program will be revived? Thank you.
Lorie P, LondonA: I’ve started the Argentina process but I fear it’s going to be a long, hard slog. And I think that’s about the same with NEDA, which was a great program when it existed but I think the funds they’re getting in wake of the new sponsorships already on board or ones that come are more targeted to the six teams that represent Canada at world events.
Q: John Hollinger has been on a rant about the way FIBA doles out spots for the World Championships. He's pointed out that "no team from Africa, Asia, or Oceania has medaled in 50 years, over 25 tourneys. They got 9 of the 24 bids." Also, if I understood his Tweet correctly, the Oceania Region gets two automatic spots and only Australia and New Zealand entered their regional qualifying tournament! It does seem rather unfair that countries like Canada will always be in tough trying to grab one of the few berths available from the Americas group, not to mention many good European countries who don't get bids. Your thoughts?
Joe S, KingstonA: So, I guess by the same theory you could cut, what, 20 or 24 teams out of the NBA because they have no chance to win and still get a bid every year? I have no problem with the way FIBA doles out invitations to its big dance. As much as it’s about declaring a champion every four years, it’s also about promoting the game and encouraging participation in a great sport all the world.
And, sure, the preliminary round probably has a handful of teams with no chance to advance but I bet back in their countries, at least a few people followed closely and if someone like Canada Basketball benefits from that, who cares who gets in. Don’t like it, don’t watch.
But I promise you this week will be full of great games and one’s going to care whether Tunisia or Jordan or Canada had spots when the tournament began.
Q: In a summer where it seemed that Brian Colangelo was trying to make a couple of moves that didn't pan out, it seems to be extremely quiet in Raptorland. Do you think BC will make any moves before the start of the season?
Jeff C, BarrieA: Raptors? Who are they again? Oh, right, those guys. I’ve actually not spoken seriously to anyone connected with the team for quite a while so I don’t have anything fresh. But, I’m starting to think that maybe there won’t be any moves until camp begins. However, we all know that things can change on a moments notice and there are three weeks or so left.
Okay, I have a high school kid to see off (and I am pretty sure I'm not ready for that) and an office to check in with to see what they have in store for me before camp starts. We'll be back to something approaching normalcy tomorrow.