What now? I don't know, you tell me
I have no idea and it will tax my creative abilities, I think, to get us through the next couple of weeks here.
Worlds are over – and I would have picked the USA to win, honest! – and media day at camp doesn’t arrive for two more weeks and if there’s a way to get a 1,000 words and a handful of marginally entertaining items here every day between now and then, I probably should get some award.
So, did the best team win the worlds? Yeah, probably.
The Americans were full measure for their win, Kevin Durant was the best player in the tournament as it turns out (I still would have had Luis Scola as MVP if he’d taken his team to the final) and they did beat back all the opposition.
But having seen a lot of games in person and on the tube, I don’t think this means the Americans are head and shoulders above the rest of the world by any means.
It was a good win by a good team against good competition and I honestly think that when it comes to worlds and Olympics, you can never, ever suggest any team is going to have an easy time getting to the medal podium.
And it’s going to make future tournaments even better.
When I started doing this eons ago, there was never a doubt about who was going to win; no there is and it’s great.
This has been, I think, a very educational summer with regards to international basketball, the depth of talent out there and the style that’s played.
We haven’t really had a chance to watch it closely because of the absence of the Canadians from any truly significant tournament since the 2002 worlds and it’s been kind of cool.
Hope you enjoyed it.
Okay, here’s the deal on what the American win at the worlds does for Canada.
Not a heckuva lot, actually.
Yes, the United States now becomes the first team to qualify for the 2012 London Games and I guess that makes it a bit easier for Canada to get in but, really, not a whole lot.
There are still only two – TWO – spots for FIBA Americas and seeing how there are teams like, you know, Argentina (the hosts) and Brazil in the region, it’s still a very, very, very long shot Canada gets there. The most likely way would be for Canada to get invited to the last-chance tournament that will be held next July and has the final four Olympic berths at stake.
The Olympics are so, so hard to get into, some of us figure Canada’s destined to sit out the men’s tournament until it expands from 12 to 16 teams, which FIBA is pushing for in time for the 2016 Games.
Right now, the field is:
The world champs, one each from Africa, Asia and Oceania, two from Europe and the Americas and four out of the final qualification event.
So yes, technically, it’s a good thing, I suppose; in reality, it doesn’t really do a lot.
Remnants of the mail and there’s more to parcel out this week:
Q: Doug. Thanks for good international hoops reporting plus as always travelogue experiences. Help us understand what you learned about the MAIN DIFFERENCES between NBA play and play at the world basketball championships? And, what can we conclude about HOW players play for their national teams vs how they play professionally ( e.g. Turk ). What might explain the differences: spirit, effort, teammates, native language, fans, coaches, int'l style of play?
Charles N, Toronto
A: Aside from the technical stuff – exponentially more moving screens, a lot of grabbing and more drive and kick to three-point shooters than you’ll see in a month of NBA games – there was one thing that really, really struck me: The passion.
Of everyone from players to coaches to fans.
I think because it’s a shorter tournament with so much at stake and representing one’s country means so much, the intensity level is so much more consistently high, it always catches me by surprise when I get to things like worlds or Olympics every second year or so.
That energy does not translate into a long, drawn out NBA season and it really is what makes the international game stand out.
You know how I’m always saying there are no “new” plays and everyone runs the same stuff and it’s all about execution and reacting to what defences do? Well, I hope more than a few of you watched my Beloved Storm beat Atlanta in the WNBA Finals opener, a totally delightful game before a packed house with all kinds of drama.
Well, the game comes down to a final possession in tie game and what does Seattle run?
High screen-roll with Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, Bird comes off the screen, gets some space and drills the game-winner with less than two seconds left.
It’s the same play you’d see run in deciding moments of games at every skill level.
Game 2 goes Tuesday.
So Super Wife’s about to celebrate Birth Week in the not-too-distant future (a concept I invented that’s now been co-opted by the entire dang family) and I’m terrible at gifts.
I’m always looking around for ideas out there in the big wide world and whilst prone on the couch last night, it hit me:
Lady Gaga shoes!
I was kind of watching the big MMVA’s last evening – I know, a total departure from form – and I have to say this without equivocation: I do not get it. I guess I’m not supposed to get it but, still, I really, really don’t get it.
One thing we’re going to be all over here in the next little while is the national women’s team, which is in Europe in the final stages of preparation for their world championships that begin next week in Czech Republic.
They went 1-2 at a tournament in France over the weekend, beating Japan and losing to the hosts and to Belarus.
The loss to Belarus is the most interesting part of the thing, that’s a team that’s in the same preliminary-round group as Canada at the worlds and one it’ll have to beat to have a legitimate chance to advance.
But, as we know, any “exhibition” game ahead of a worlds is just that; it’s the same on the women’s side as it is on the men’s in that teams have a tendency to hold things back a little bit, especially against teams they’ll have to face when it really counts.
The women are off to Athens this week for a couple of games against Greece in their final tuneup.
How ‘bout those Catch-22s?
Who? Remember back in the day when I kind of blew the reporting of the Greatest Dragon Boat Team Known To (This) Man and I got in the doghouse a wee bit from Super Wife, who finally decided to give this thing a read and noticed the error?
Well, I’m told (and I only witnessed one of four races) that they rowed paddled (she got me, again) to glorious victory in their division at the Great White North regatta on the weekend and, seeing how I like to eat and live and all, I better mention it and get it right.
Way to go, team.