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USA reads a page from the Canada Basketball handbook

Getting to this a few days late because games got in the way and didn’t want to bury it deep in some morning fare to be covered off by a few paragraphs.

See? I’m always thinking of you.

Anyway, USA Basketball is dragging itself into the 2010s now with a decision to implement a series of totally logical moves to enhance the youth basketball experience for kids right through high school.

You can see the major recommendations here – smaller ball, lower baskets where physically possible, no three-pointers to put a much-needed emphasis on skill development with the youngest players, equal playing time for everyone and no zone defence to help kids learn what it takes to guard someone.

In short, they’re turning into Canada.

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Many of these initiatives have been place here for a while and it’s not surprising that one of the members of the USAB committee to come up with them was Dawn Smyth of Canada Basketball.

Dawn’s in charge of Canada Basketball coach training and education – a major, major step that’s in place right across the country – and she is one of the true up and coming leaders in the sport. Keep the name in mind.

And keep in mind that Canada has been a leader in youth program development to make sure the game is fun, equitable and a challenge for all, with specific aims of overall skill development that’s age appropriate. They don’t tell the tallest kid to go stand by the basket, they don’t automatically turn the smallest kid into the ball-handler and you can see how many well-rounded players we produce.

You want kids to have fun and be challenged but not overwhelmed, a smaller ball, lower basket, limited shooting range will teach them rather than frustrate them.

It’s a bit of apples and oranges because of the difference in the sports but check out this video she sent along and then try to apply it to basketball, where for too long we’ve asked kids to play the same way we expect men and women to play and I wonder how many late-blooming athletes gave up the sport because it was too overwhelming at too young an age.

(An addendum: If you’re reading this and you have a vast expanse of, say, parking lot space you don’t know what to do with one day, let me and I’ll let Dawn know and someone will donate paint and baskets and balls and we’ll do the same thing for basketball. Reach out with an e-mail we’ll get this started)

Anyway, back to the rules and changes in focus.

The one that seemed to get a bit buried is that USAB is now going to play its events for high school-age teams under FIBA rules, which have been a staple here for while.
That’s limited timeouts, a reset to 14 seconds on the shotclock after offensive rebounds, being able to get the ball in the cylinder, all things the NBA should implement.

What it will mean is that when Canadian teams go south of the border for tournaments, they will be playing under familiar rules and won’t have to change anything strategically.

I think what USAB has done is good for the overall growth of the game for young players.

I also think Canada Basketball should be rightfully proud that it’s been ahead of the curve for years.

Always time for these guys, right?

Kudos to TSN.

Saw yesterday on the Magical Tweeter Machine that the network will show the rounds of 16 and 8 and the Final Four of the NCAA women’s basketball either on their on-line service or one of their many networks.

The schedule is here and, you know, that’s a good and big step and the network did the obvious thing.

Sure, the best solution would be to put the Sweet 16 games on television and not just stream them and some of the games are on premium channels but baby steps are better than no steps at all.

I wonder who they’ll have on the expert panel during halftimes and between games?

The NCAA team with lady chaplain is now my favourite March Madness team of all time.

Okay, it’s my only favourite March Madness team of all time. But there you go.

The Raptors?

Quiet day yesterday coming off the back-to-back so very little to report and even less to write about.

Better get the thinking cap on because they’re gonna need 600 or 650 words early this afternoon and I haven’t got a lot of ideas.

Oh, and while we’re here I guess everyone was too busy yesterday to get to the weekly mailbag submissions, right?

All right, you get a pass because maybe it’s been a busy week or whatever but if you wanted to click on askdoug@thestar.ca and let your mind wander to whatever questions you might have, that’d be fine.

The Raptors are blowing off shootaround until much later in the day and I can think of no logical reason I’d go see Brooklyn so it’s a day around the house to write early and since I did the kitchen and some laundry yesterday, there’ll be time to look at the mail.

Unless, of course, I get a better offer or decide to go for dim sum.