Difficult and important decisions to be made
Big week for the men’s basketball team and I imagine a terribly difficult one for the coaching staff.
One of the other big differences between FIBA basketball and what we’re used to is that rosters are limited to 12 players; you can’t have 15 and move guys in and out and paring this Canada team is going to be a chore.
One thing that stood out Saturday night at a truly entertaining night at the Canada-Jamaica game is that Jay’s team doesn’t have a “star” or two, it’s a team of good players of disparate experience, all of whom are capable of doing what the other guy does most of the time.
They’re solid up front – the Tristan Thompson-Andrew Nicholson tandem looks pretty good, Levon Kendall just knows how to play, Joel Anthony just does his stuff efficiently – but there truly is a glut of people at the wings and point guard who are all really talented enough to make the team and give it a shot to qualify for next year’s World Cup.
And that’s where it’s going to be tough for Jay because there really isn’t much margin for error. Going into the grind of a qualification tournament that could be like 10 games in 12 days or something silly like that, he needs to get guys who can play a lot, guys who can handle the ups and downs of a long tournament and guys who are going to accept that some days they won’t play a lot and other days they’ll have to perform right off the bat.
It won’t be easy.
But it is vitally important.
I don’t know what he’s going to do, talking to him over the weekend makes me think he’s not quite sure right now but the make up of the team is paramount.
As we expected, they aren’t going to be able to score easily (the calibre of some of the competition in Venezuela will be much better than the Jamaican opposition they saw last week) so loading up with guys who might be able to light it up quickly might be one way to go.
Or maybe they decide that it’s better to focus more on defence, to take the best stoppers they have and hope the offence comes around sufficiently to get by.
Of course, a balance is desireable but in some ways, picking a team is a bit of guesswork.
The mental acuity and toughness of the players is just as important. They are probably going to lose a game everyone thinks they should win and win one that’s unexpected. There will be horrible calls and tough times, probably a fight and keeping your head is hard.
Finding the guys who can do it, and who can perform on the court, is going to be the most significant part of this week.
This just seems to work today, doesn’t it?
How come whenever I think of the world track and field championships I miss Geoff Gowan and his melodic way of calling the sport.
That dude had some pipes and a lilt to his voice that made him one of the best we’ve ever had.
Too bad I didn’t watch, though; I think one of the great underplayed stories of today is Damian Warner winning a decathlon bronze and I will say this:
There was a day – not too long ago -- when our industry was healthy enough that there would have been beat reporters there who had the expertise to put the accomplishment in context.
And Randy would have done his usual tremendous job.
Okay, which of these three totally uncharacteristic sentences do you think I uttered out loud this weekend:
“No, I won’t have a second one, thanks.”
“Sure, I’ll have salad with that, light dressing on the side.”
“Hey, can you please put the tennis on one of the TVs?”
LOL. (That’s Laugh Out Loud the kids tell me)
I know there are all kinds of quirks to the CFL that make it cool and unique.
I don’t mind a nice rouge every now and then, it’s neat to see the organized chaos on the backfield with everybody moving before every play and I’m pretty sure they could call offside on some receiver on every snap.
But the weirdest has to be the schedule.
Yes, I understand that the season unfolds at a much more, um, relaxed pace than I’m used to on my winter beat but this is ridiculous.
Check this out:
They played in Winnipeg on a Friday night and then not back at home until a week from the following Tuesday. Then they were off from that Tuesday until a week the following Friday and are now off until next Sunday night.
If you’re keeping score, that’s four games in 25 days by my count and it’s hard to keep any momentum – for me or for them – with that wacky schedule.
Yes, it calms a bit late in the year – there’s a streak of three straight Saturday road games – but there’s also one break of just four days between two games and it’s all over the map.
It has to be the easiest schedule in pro sports in some ways, right?
Let’s rank them, shall we, hardest to easiest. And because it’s all about me, let’s look at it from my angle:
Too many back-to-backs, four games most weeks and a bunch of flights usually thrown in. The good part is there aren’t a lot of off-days for which you have to make up stories.
A rather crazy pace of a game a day but you don’t ever have worry about making up stuff to fill a day and if a team goes on a three-series road trip, it’s generally broken up between two writers. Plus, three or four days in the same city doesn’t suck.
Never done it over a full season but it’s got to be a bit of a grind; not as many back-to-backs but a lot of down days.
Waaaaay too many off days, just cannot get in a rhythm.