Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Greater minds can handle the serious hoops analysis, of course, but it looked like Carleton Ravens guard Ryan Bell made a good case for more minutes in Canada's otherwise disappointing opening 75-67 loss to Brazil tonight at the FIBA Americas championship.

With Andy Rautins (pictured), who plays regularly with the Syracuse Orange, gone after seriously injuring his knee (more on that in a bit), Bell helped Canada go on 16-6 run early in the fourth quarter that, however briefly, erased a 10-point Brazil lead. It was pretty much the only stretch all night when Canada got the ball inside with any regularity -- Samuel Dalembert scored six of his 10 points in that span -- and moved it around with alacrity. (That Dalembert putback dunk was set up by Bell throwing a great entry pass to Juan Mendez in the low post.)

The 6-foot-4 Orleans native also helped create a four-point swing when he drew a charge on one of Brazil's best bigs, Tiago Splitter, to deny an easy basket on a 3-on-1 fast break. That also led to Splitter fouling out in the final four minutes. NenĂª, the mononymed forward who plays for the NBA's Denver Nuggets, fouled out less than a minute later but Canada could not take advantage. That's the kind of night it was for Leo Rautins' lads.

Bell didn't take a shot in a 13 minutes on the floor (he had two assists and no turnovers). Ultimately, he was part of a unit with Dalembert, Mendez David Thomas and Carl English that seemed to work well together.

That was only one small part of the game, of course, in the larger story that Mark Wacyk at is 10 times better at telling. Steve Nash's Suns running mate Leandro Barbosa put up 30 points and his unmatched stop-and-start ability contributed to the terrible knee injury to Andy Rautins.

Rautins was covering Barbosa on the left wing, off the ball, early in the second quarter when the Brazilian Blur feinted a move toward three-point range and cut toward the basket. There probably aren't six guys in the NBA who can stay with the Brazilian Blur when he does that. Rautins, who had checked during the quarter break, went for the first move. He tried to stop to cut off a pass to Barbosa and his knee bent in a way that was not what his maker had in mind. It looked bad.

That's terrible for the Rautinses to have that happen in the very first game of the tournament. It hurts two teams near and dear, the national team and the Syracuse Orange. (There's a sneaking suspicion pere Rautins' choice in corporate sponsors might have ticked off the karma police.) Canada's showing was promising enough in light of Dalembert's early foul trouble, poor foul shooting (only 19 trips to the line and 11 makes) the injury and a glut of empty possessions across the final minutes. This team bears watching tomorrow vs. Venezuela (6 p.m. Eastern, The Score).

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to

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