Tough decisions and the sea of tranquility, plus a late update
It was interesting talking to Leo Rautins in the wake of the loss to France about the decision to sit down his son, Andy, because of lingering knee pain, a decision that took the best shooter out of Canada’s lineup.
And it really underscored what has to be a very odd balancing act between being a father and a coach.
Andy hadn’t played or practiced in the weeks between exhibition games against France in Toronto and opening of the worlds but got about 20 minutes a game in the first two in Izmir.
“Any of my other players, I might not have played him when I did. Because I know him, I thought I could see things and I’d know where to draw the line (and get him out) and I think I crossed that line, which I would never cross with any of the other guys because I don’t intimately know them. I think I crossed that line and it’s not worth it.”
I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be in that situation -- I just run Super Son out inning after inning in bantam house league baseball – but it sure sounds like a difficult situation to handle.
Personally, I think they handled it well; Andy looked good in the first two games, seemed to tweak his knee a bit late against Lithuania and the decision to shut him down completely – I would be shocked if he was dressed for either New Zealand or Spain although there is no official word – makes entire sense.
Official word has just come down, mid-day here and while you folks back home were sleeping. Andy's gone home and is done for the tournament.
Here's the statement from Leo:
We have decided not to have Andy play. It was a difficult decision but we did not want to risk any further injury to his knee and the NY Knicks requested him back so their doctors and trainers (can) work with him and prepare him for camp. Andy feels badly that he was unable to help Canada more due to his injury but he is confident his guys can pull through the pool."
So, what in the world is going on with Spain? That’s the big question here after they blew an 18-point lead and lost to Lithuania on Tuesday night and now cannot finish higher than third in Group D and that likely means a round of 16 match with Greece or Turkey.
I didn’t see a lot of the game against Lithuania (these darn Canada stories keep taking up some time) but from what I’ve told, they have shown a tendency to get a little rattled when things get tough, which is entirely out of character.
I wonder if that Jose Calderon fellow, whose been with the team for almost a decade and who led them as the starting point guard to a world championship four years ago, would have helped? I’d say yes.
It was something like ridiculous to sublime wandering the streets near the Kaya Prestige (an entirely functional hotel that we’re living in, except when the power went off a couple of times yesterday) over the past few days.
As you’d expect, there are some, um, crowded streets and alleys in this city of over 3 million. And as you’d also expect, you can buy pretty much anything from any number of enterprising vendors who set up shop anywhere the mood strikes. I could have bought a couple of tires, or a cell phone or a watch or a belt, or from one guy, what looked entirely like clothes he’d taken out of his closet and folded neatly on the street. It’s charming, if not a bit stressful being, um, enticed to look over the wares.
But then you go 15 minutes from the hotel and, presto!, you run into the sea, tranquil, spacious grass area separating it from the avenue of restaurants and shops and you get the feeling of being utterly detached from the chaos of the city.
I had never heard of Izmir until I found out a few months ago that’s where Canada would be playing. I can’t imagine ever coming back – so many other places to see – but I’m glad I got here.
You know what never gets old? Watching New Zealand sports teams do the Haka.
It’s a traditional Maori dance the teams perform before every game (I once heard it described as a “symphony of the body” and it’s very cool.
It’s something used to prepare for battle, or to proclaim strength and it is not a measure of intimidation as much as it is a sign of respect.
The Tall Blacks do it before every game, as do the All Blacks and All Whites (the soccer team, which is generally kitted out in, yep, white) and when I saw it before the Canada game, I smiled. It’s neat.
Oh yeah, to all those in the Baltic States or the Balkans, a big old “oops, I’m sorry for the screw up” from yesterday. I do know the difference; I just can’t type it.
Mail? Please. We’re a wee bit light over there in the in-box, click here and do your stuff.
I’m not going to say France coasted in those two games in Toronto a couple of weeks back, games that might have imbued Canadian fans with a somewhat false sense of security about their team.
No, I’ll let French coach Vincent Collet say it, as he did when I asked him about the startling change in his team:
“From the first two games, for sure we had great improvement. I think there are several things … First we are a defensive team and our best way to win the games is to defend, deny opponents to be good and I think you do it much better in a competition game than a preparation game.”
There you have it, good teams, old teams, teams that have been around, do have an idea of when it’s most important to be playing with all-out intensity.
Turkey pulls away for a somewhat easy win over Greece in their big regional battle Tuesday night and from the part of the game I saw on television, it sure did look like an emotional night.
It underscores the huge boost a team gets in a tournament like this from playing at home. The sellout crowd of about 12,500 was in full throat the entire game, I’m told and the kind of adrenaline boost it gave Turkey was a huge factor in the outcome.