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So the senior men’s summer basketball season ends after just three games and a 1-2 record after beating Venezuela at the AmeriCup thing down in Argentina last night.
It’s disappointing not to have two more games but, in reality, not all that surprising given the team that travelled.
(A quick aside because lots of people have asked: Canada didn’t move on because the tiebreaker process in a three-way tie only involves games between the tied teams so nothing against Argentina was taken into consideration; and Sam’s Virgin Island squad moved on rather than a 2-1 team from another group because organizers were mindful of the need to sell tickets and decided two teams from the Argentina group would advance, regardless)
In a lot of ways, what happened with Canada reminded me of the bad old days when they’d find whoever was available, toss them into a training camp that might last a week or so and then hope for the best against teams with far more familiarity and, usually, more preparation.
Hell, this Canadian team didn’t even get an exhibition game before being thrown into the tournament, which says a lot about how seriously Canada Basketball – rightfully – took the event. They had to go, they had to go with a eye to the longer-term future and, frankly, in these difficult monetary times, a week or so to get ready was about all they should have spent on. Better to do more before Halifax in November than Argentina in August.
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It was far more about trying to find some guys who can help them in the qualification process for the World Cup and to find out where they need help and that was certainly accomplished.
Looking from afar – and watching three games on a computer screen does not lend itself to top-notch assessment – it would seem newcomers Olivier Hanlan and Xavier Rathan-Mayes stood out but there is a distinct lack of big man depth that might be an issue.
Andrew Nicholson was okay but you know what they needed? They needed Mike Meeks to come off the bench and out of the coaching ranks because he’s precisely the kind of tough rebounding, deep shooting big man you need in the FIBA game.
Other than that? There weren’t a lot of surprises or disappointments. I don’t know if there are going to be six guys from this team in the 12-man roster that plays in Halifax in November – that was Jay’s guess before they took off – but I suppose I could see six on the team but maybe not in what’s going to be a far tighter rotation.
This was a tournament about discovery and learning and I say the biggest lesson learned is they need more players. That’s not a knock against the guys who were making their senior team debut and maybe the experience will help long into the future and, as we mentioned right off the bat, Canada was a bit hamstrung by limited preparation, a lack of familiarity; same stuff we were writing 10 years ago.
But now at least there will be some sort of continuity when they get to Halifax, which is what the tournament had to be about most of all.
Who will be there? Well, it’s impossible to come up with exact names because guys get hurt, guys don’t want to play, teams are reluctant to let their guys go. But anybody playing in Europe but not with a EuroLeague team can try to get away, maybe a player or two will emerge from the CIS or USport or CIAU or whatever they’ve rebranded that as; maybe a D-G League team will relent and make their Canadian players available, however many there might be in the league at that time.
The simple fact is, Canada needs an upgrade in talent and more experience for the young players and fans can only hope they get it through the long, convoluted qualification process that’s ahead.
I remain confident Canada will eventually qualify for the World Cup, this week hasn’t changed that, but it has opened some eyes that depth is nice but experience and talent is better.
I would presume Steve Nash and Rowan Barrett and Jay Triano and Roy Rana will be on the phone next week to European and G League teams continuing their clamouring to get weekend passes for Canadians in November.
I know you’ve got stuff on your minds, it’s my ESP and there’s no denying it.
So click on this firstname.lastname@example.org thing, type out your classic questions on whatever topic catches your fancy and we’ll get ‘em answered on the weekend.
Ask anyone, it’s a hoot.
So one more season of Air Canada Centre and then it’s Scotiabank Arena and, really, is it a deal worth getting worked up over? Correct answer: No
We’ll call it what it’s called in stories just like we do Rogers Centre and Budweiser Stage even though we all know they’re the SkyDome and Molson Amphitheatre and call them such privately.
Anyway, it does allow me to re-tell one of the great faux pas on a long list of them in this rather long career.
Remember the day Vince dropped 50 on Phoenix? NBA game, Sunday afternoon, monstrous moment.
Well, and I’m paraphrasing here because I can’t find the story since there was no interweb back then like there is now, the lead I wrote was great.
“In a timeout late in the first quarter as Vince Carter was just getting started, Dee Brown looked down the SkyDome court the Phoenix Suns bench to warn them “he’s going to for 50.”
Cute little anecdote made entirely possible by the fact we had courtside seats and a nice way into the story, right?
The game was at the Air Canada Centre, a fact lost on me and the copy editors and/or slot people we used to employ.
Besides, it allows one of the silly segues of all time but if you can do Satchmo and Ella, well, you have to.