Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Things need to change for Canadian Basketball

This is some older news but Samuel Dalembert of the Philadelphia 76ers is now a Canadian citizen and will be playing for the Canadian national basketball team. Please excuse me if I don't see this being the move that brings Canada basketball to the top of the ranks. It was cute watching the press conference for Dalembert on Raptor TV like this move was of major consequence to the chances the Canadian national team had, but press conferences belong to Steve Nash. Alright that is somewhat harsh. Truth be told, I think it's good that they do treat it as somewhat of a big deal, even though it's not. Try to make this national team look respectful, at least until they go winless in a few weeks. They play Brazil in the first game and already Brazil has two players in Barbosa and Varejao that are better then anything Canada is showing. They also have the States on the 25th and let's see if they can keep it around a 20 point loss. The test will be to see how they do against the weaker teams they play against in Virgin Islands and Venezuela.

You will hear how Canada needs and is trying to get Jamal Magloire, and it's not like Jamal will hurt but he is not what we need. We need Steve Nash and we need a change in the overall structure of Canadian Basketball. Steve Nash would help not just with his skill but also with teaching the youngsters for the future. Even with Nash we would be hard pressed to make any waves, but everyone who plays with Nash becomes a better player which would help with building up this team for future years. We don't have that one strong player that guides the way for everyone else and that is the biggest thing we are missing. We are the Philadelpia 76ers.

The change to the overall structure though is much more important. That change is to put more importance on the earlier stages of player development which is basically high school and to make these high school players feel they have a future playing ball in Canada. For many many years when a Canadian player in high school wanted to make it big, they would try to get to the States. The players that didn't make it to the states played Canadian University basketball. Watch Canadian university ball sometime and see how many times you say "Oh man I could kill these guys". That's because anyone who had solid skills left the country. They had no incentive to stay here. Let's see...a choice between playing in March Madness or games on Rogers Cable..ummm which one would I be shooting for???.

And that starts the problem, all the potential this country has in basketball is wasted because of unfullfilled dreams of playing in the States. For example, say we have 100 great high school players full of potential and with the proper treatment and training and growth could actually play and represent this country on a global scale. But only 2 will get a chance to show the skills they have in the States, and since the States already has thousands of other potential filled players, our 2 is riding the pine. But at least those 2 made it. Those other 95 get to move on and play Canadian University ball. Basketball that is not viewed as anything serious, no one pays any type of attention and the development is then screwed. Think about how Canadians treat hockey and the development of these youngsters. The coverage of the National Junior hockey team. The crowds that go out to watch 14 year olds play. The Canadian national hockey team does solid pretty much every time out against the best in the world. You think if Basketball has even half that type of exposure, things would be different? Andrei Bargnani at the age of 18 was playing in front of 10,000 hostile fans and was trained for those big game atmosphere and to also deliver. When I was 18 I was playing a tournament in Nova Scotia and was amazed at the huge crowd of 200 silent townies that came out to watch. Which of us based on these two types of game atmosphere has the better chance to grow into something that will have a chance on a national stage?

We need to start treating the high school level of basketball as a bigger deal then it currently is. Get them some TV time. Make it known when tournaments are being held and what the results are. Make these kids feel like superstars. Don't give them the vibe that the only way to be something in Basketball is by the near impossible task of getting out of the country. With that change of attitude will see the players finally growing into the potential that a lot of Canadian players really do have.

And if someone disagrees that Canadian basketball doesn't need to be fixed, just remember...Samual Freakin Dalembert got a press conference AND HE DIDN'T EVEN MOVE TO CANADA TILL HE WAS 13! And we are waiting on pins and needles for "Traded to my 3rd team in 3 years, former all-star but not trusted enough for anything except a one year contract" Jamal Magloire. Ohh yeah, we are just fine.

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