Thursday, July 24, 2008

Canada Basketball: Contemplating the future

Canadian hoopheads should be mildly abuzz over the post Michael Grange wrote on Wednesday, where he wisely gave a couple of basketball guys, including player agent Bernie Lee, carte blanche to say what a lot of us are thinking:
"During the high days of the Canadian national team one constant theme of the teams were role players and stars who adopted a team-first theme. Guys like Jay Triano stayed at Canadian schools and had outstanding careers where they developed and had guys of lesser talents fall in behind them to round out the team. Now our national team is made up of 12 star college players and no role players, the role player coming out of high school signs with mid major US schools instead of going to great CIS schools and receiving great coaching and learning to play a role ... Of the 5 youngest outstanding Canadian high school kids right now, all 5 attend US schools and I would say, without speaking to them, they would feel hard pressed to feel an attachment to the Canadian program.

"The Canadian National program needs to develop a system that allows our best players to stay at home and have consistency thru the program and support to achieve their goals without having to attend diploma mills in small towns in the US living away from their families and mentors who truly care about them as a whole person and not just a 16 yr old basketball player. Our truly talented kids need 1 point of contact to mentor and assist them without an ulterior motive thus removing the layer of nonsense between them and the schools and teams they ultimately choose. Too many unqualified people are becoming part of the equation and a lot of truly talented kids are being hurt for it and never developing.

"In the end not squeaking thru and qualifying on an outstanding tournament from a guy like Rowan Barrett or Juan (Mendez) might end up being the best thing that ever happened to the team because it will cause change at the bottom and improve the entire process."
Grange's post touches on a lot of areas: "There has never been a Canadian on the roster of the Raptors. Imagine if there was one starting, with no favour of his passport? And he was someone whose talent had been polished to some degree by his participation in the national program starting as a teenager? That would be cool, for lack of a better word (and if you wonder why MLSE is taking an active interest in the health of Canada Basketball, that's as good a reason as any.)"

It's been said before that the CIS will have to be a big part of a true overhaul of Canada Basketball. Lee hit the nail on the head -- the goals of the player who's trying to get to a NCAA D-1 school and the goals of Canada Basketball are counter-intuitive. Granted, there are many reasons for why Canada struggles in international hoops beyond where the players attend college, but man, aren't we tired of making excuses?

Incidentally, it's old news now, but how come it was a Philly newspaper that got Samuel Dalembert's side of the story about him leaving the Canadian team, rather than a reporter in Canada? (Let's assume Grange, Doug Smith and others tried their best.)

(Cross-posted to The CIS Blog.)

Passions ignite over national team (Michael Grange, From Deep, July 23)

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