Coaching is much more than just coaching
Got word last night – and it was no surprise and something that’s been “reported” quite often – that Nick Nurse is on board with Dwane Casey’s staff and he’ll be the head coach of the summer league team that’s going to convene in Vegas today or tomorrow.
No, we don’t know for sure who’s on the team and the only guys that really matter are Terrence Ross, Quincy Acy, Jonas Valanciunas and Julyan Stone but at least we know who’ll coach it. Nurse was the D League coach of the year last year and comes highly touted by people I trust who know that league well and was also the head coach of Great Britain at the London Olympics.
(Yes, he’d know Pops Mensa-Bonsu quite well and I presume that will stand him in good stead with many of you).
Not sure who’ll join him on the staff, I was told that announcement will come “later this week” but having someone on board can’t be a bad thing, can it?
The requisites, I’ve been told, for this entire new Casey staff are the ability to teach, enthusiasm and loyalty. I don’t imagine it’s been easy finding people to come because I don’t think there are a lot of people who’d settle for one year contacts and with Dwane’s future uncertain after this year, that was probably the jumping off point for contract talks.
That there will be an entirely new coaching staff shouldn’t come as that big a surprise, I don’t think. It’s not that last year’s group was bad, mind you, but I do think it might have been time for a change of voice, of temperament and of style.
Assistant coaches are the conduits between head coach and player, they work far more often individually with players and they are the voices the players most hear. The teaching aspect can’t be discounted – spending time correcting flaws in shots, showing the proper footwork on offence, teaching defensive awareness – but there’s a lot more than that. Assistant coaches are sounding boards, if a player has a gripe it’s the first step in the process of getting things smoothed out and having a diverse group to deal with a diverse group of players is significant.
Pretty much everything on the court is the same from one team to the next, no one is really re-inventing the wheel in that regard. But putting together a staff that can reach the players at every level and head off any disruptions or issues that might arise over the course of a long season is hugely important.
Assistant coaches have to get along with players and each other and the man in charge. There cannot be agendas, they have to work in cohesion for a common goal; it’s a delicate job finding the right mix and I wonder, because of the limitations the Raptors have faced with the timing of the openings and the short-term nature of the contracts, if they have. We’ll find out as time goes on; I would think fans would have faith that Dwane would find good, solid, hard-working men to join him and see where this goes.
Not sure how or why and it’s absolutely a product of better luck than better management but having batteries in the flashlight, candles and barbecue lighters for flame made hanging out in that apocalyptic storm that hit here last night pretty easy.
I would suggest that advance planning for such occasions is a true character flaw over here, I totally admire all of you who have kits put together, stuff like blankets and candles in the car in case of emergency and are, you know, prepared for stuff. And the way this world seems to be going, when we tend to lurch from one crazy weather-related event to another, being prepared is something we should do more of.
Anyway, hope all of you around these parts came through unscathed; if you’re not in the area, let’s just say it was a rainstorm like I’ve seldom seen.
And since it’s raining again …
This took a little doing and harkened me back to the days at the Beijing Olympics when I could write and post this blog but not read it.
Tried through the tweeter to reach Lisa Thomaidis to see how the women’s national team was doing over in China and after finally getting e-mails through, we find out quite well.
They went 2-1 in a first three-game series, beating Brazil and Puerto Rico and losing to China and face the same three teams in another series that starts, I believe, today.
There are two significant parts to this that you should pay attention to: First, having success against other FIBA Americas teams is big because those are the teams Canada is going to have to compete with later this summer at the qualification tournament for the world championships.
I don’t imagine any of these three teams are nearly the finished product they’ll be at that tournament but the knowledge gleaned on this trip will be invaluable in preparation.
And, according to the e-mail I got, one of the big and most pleasant surprises so far has been the play of 17-year-old point guard Kia Nurse, who has taken to the job like a seasoned pro. I think that was one of the big questions when the summer began, that it’s being answered in the positive is significant. -