Is this the start of something special?
We’re going to have a whole lot more in the next couple of weeks on this but in chatting with some folks yesterday you can feel a sense of excitement around the Canada Basketball world right now.
The senior men – the highest profile team of the organization even though it hasn’t been as successful as the women – begins its training camp here next week.
It’s world championship qualification tournament is in Caracas at the end of August and we are entering without doubt the most anticipated quadrennial for the senior men perhaps ever.
We all know about the promising young talent, Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk, Cory Joseph, Andrew Nicholson, Tristan Thompson and the rest of them who make up the most talented generation of players the country has ever produced.
They are still trying to finalize the precise camp roster – we might not see that until Sunday night or even Monday morning – but suffice it to say that for the first time in a long time, there will be all kinds of competition for jobs. And by competition I mean competition between talented players who would have legitimate claims to jobs in most years.
The thing that’s struck me as significant over the last three or four months is that every time I’ve talked to one of the youngsters, they have professed excitement and pride about putting on a Canadian jersey.
Cory Joseph talked about it at the NBA Finals, his brother Devoe kind of beamed when the possibility of playing for Canada was raised last week in Vegas, Myck Kabongo signed off with a “see you at camp” when I talked to him at the Summer League.
Now, I don’t imagine Wiggins shows up this year and I don’t imagine Bennett plays because of his shoulder injury that kept him out of summer league but both of them have represented Canada before and I think we can safely presume they will again.
Well, we’ll investigate a bit more once everyone’s here but there are two theories I’ll throw out right now.
The first is the presence of Steve Nash as the general manager and Jay Triano as the coach. No disrespect to those who went before them but when a guy of Nash’s stature calls, kids would have a tendency to listen a little bit more closely, he can make a powerful case for the significance of playing for Canada because he did it for so many years. He’s Steve Nash, for goodness sake, when he calls, players listen. And having a proven NBA coach – someone who’s been in the league for more than a decade and someone who coached Canada to some of its most memorable success – would be another huge plus.
The second is a bit more complex but I think just as important.
This team has a chance to be really good and there’s some peer pressure at play here. This seems to me to be a closeknit group of young Canadians, they know each other, have played with and against each other for years and track each other through college and the pros. They seem to truly enjoy going at each other and challenging each other on the court to get better; and I think there’s a feeling of responsibility to kids coming behind them and a feeling that this group can be very special.
Now, I don’t think anyone needs to go off half-cocked and be dreaming about immediate global medals or domination, these are still young kids playing against international veterans.
I’ve said all along that the absolute pinnacle is likely to be reached at the 2019 World Cup, the 2014 worlds and 2016 Olympics are important steps on the way but thinking they’ll immediately be medal contenders is a bit of stretch.
It’s a good, if unproven group, the first step in a long process begins next week.
So it’s like 13 C out when Super Dog goes for the morning constitutional, it’s going to get to 23 C or something today and that’s a nice fall day, isn’t it?
And while I know there are those among you who wish for the 33 C days and heat and all that jazz, I’m quite fine with it the way it is.
We like comfortable, don’t we? And after a couple of 40-plus days last week, the more 25s there are, the better.
So why not this …
Kinda let down with the amount of mail yesterday. How come you’ve all clammed up so much? There has to be stuff on your minds, no?
You know the firstname.lastname@example.org deal. Help a fella out, would you?
Speaking of international basketball, it’s about time we caught up with the Canadian junior women.
Been remiss through the first two rounds of their world championship but they’re 3-3 now and have a medal-round quarter-final game with Spain in the wee hours of Friday morning.
It’ll be a tough one, Canada was fourth in its second-round pool, Spain won its group but getting to this point at least assures them of a top-8 finish at the tournament.
They’re over in Lithuania and beat the hosts to help get to the quarters and I imagine a top-8 world finish is pretty much where they figured to land.
So I see they lopped off a few big Tall Foreheads over at Maple Leaf Sports yesterday and came up with some new governance plan with a gaggle of big shots at the top of the pyramid.
Now, I do know that three long-time execs were whacked in the process, people I know and quite liked, and that sucks; I have no clue whether the new top group will make that much difference nor do I really care.
What fans should worry about, and what I want to know, is who’ll actually be hands-on running the teams. The reporting process at the top means little on the ground; at least with the HOTH and, I believe, the pucks, they have capable people in the day-to-day running of the teams, the PR staffs, the support staffs, the back-of-house people who do the work.
Hope they don’t screw with them in some misguided attempt to re-invent the wheel.