Monday, June 30, 2008

Canada Basketball: Everyone pulling on the same rope

Please commit this to memory in the wake of Canada Basketball naming its naming its senior men's national team for the upcoming Olympic qualifier.

There are no CIS players on the squad (Carleton's Aaron Doornekamp will be a reserve), but maybe some day that won't be the case.
"One thought under consideration is developing a working relationship between Canada Basketball, NBA Canada (the NBA's Canadian marketing arm, which is operated for the league by the Raptors), Canadian Interuniversity Sport and the likes of equipment makers Nike and adidas to replicate the kind of co-ordinated approach to youth basketball development the NBA, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Association of Atlantic Universities and the shoe companies announced for the United States at the men's college Final Four in March.

" 'This is just a basketball guy talking about a concept,' (Raptors GM Bryan)Colangelo said. "It needs to be worked on, our board and the provinces have to be on the same page, but with the combined resources of the organizations we should be able to make it work and work fabulously.' "

"There are still all sorts of hurdles."
-- Michael Grange, June 20
Collaboration is an overused buzzword, but it's what Canada probably needs to get back the modicum of roundball glory it enjoyed under the late, great Jack Donohue in the '70s and '80s. You don't have to look any farther than Canadian soccer to see what happens when everyone is more concerned about their own bailiwick than the greater good (although that's changing).

One element of that era in basketball when Canada could, and did beat the Soviet Union when it was reigning Olympic champion is that many of the national team players did stay home to play for their regular teams. It's hard to imagine a day when a hotshot recruit would choose a CIS school over NCAA D-1 because it would be a better pipeline into the Canadian Olympic team, but wouldn't it be nice for Leo Rautins.

It's Canada vs. Lebanon tonight in Hamilton. It's more fun to watch and read about people actually playing a game than watch some stiffs in suits talk about who's going to play hockey where next fall, right?

(Update: Canada wins 89-67 in front of 1,000 people in Hamilton, probably about half of whom where Lebanese Canadians. Carl English had a team-high 18, big Sam Dalembert had the double-double with 10 and 11 boards, Rowan Barrett hooped 16 and Olu Famutimi contributed added 14.

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