About 8 months ago, I had no idea what a blog was and now I am writing one. What will be more surprising will be if anyone actually reads it and bothers to comment. My hope is that maybe I can stir some water cooler talk about the game in our province and on this website. Further interest in the game both on a large scale and locally is always a good thing. In the end, I hope that we are all trying to improve the game locally in some small way.  In any case, I have just finished watching the Tournament of the America and I have a few observations:

1. The influence of American basketball on the “have not” countries. 

We in Canada watch, emulate and idolize NBA and NCAA basketball. Our players try to play American, our coaches coach American and our administrators run our leagues American. I believe this influence is one of the things that hold us back internationally. Teams of NBA stars that have recently struggled to adjust to the highly skilled and team oriented game that is FIBA make up for it by being ridiculously rich in talent and athleticism. “Have not” countries such as ours and others that are in the American shadow do not have such luxury and as a result consistently underachieve.   What we see being played on TV affects the way we play and coach the game. Our athletes look up to one name wonders like Lebron and Kobe instead of Theo Papaloukous and Pepe Sanchez. As a result, our style is very American, very individual very one-on-one.  The problem is we don’t have the ridiculous wealth of talent and population base that that Americans are playing with. Imagine if you playing in a tournament where no one outside of your team is good enough to even be asked to tryout for your team!  For our collection of the lesser gifted the result is that we are not as good as we should be on paper and other teams are better than they should be on paper. 


2. How can we get better? Two fundamental skills and little know how.  

Shooting open shots, and passing are the two most glaring weakness from Team Canada as I watched the FIBA Americas tournament. I have thought from the outset that Argentina appears to be the best team in the tournament (not the most TALENTED team but the best TEAM) because they seem to be better at these basic skills. It is interesting to look at and chart the number of times they do a pass-pass play rather than a pass square up and hold the ball that Canadians and Americans players often do. Or the number of times they reverse the ball and then attack quickly, or penetrate and pitch and then make the EXTRA pass.

They do these things far more often than we are accustomed to seeing in any of our leagues. There is one other huge difference you can notice if you watch closely. It appears that our players penetrate and run screening plays looking to score whereas
Argentina, and others will penetrate or screen  to create a help situation and then exploit that situation while the other team is in a scramble mode. This often results in a better shot than the initial screen or penetration would have yielded. I wonder how many Canadian coaches teach players how to think the game on this level.
On top of this game savvy, at the end of each play, all 5 players have the ability to knock down an open shot to make them pay.

It is these two things that I think separates us: Better skills in passing and shooting, and a better understanding of the 5 on 5 game.  

I think we not only need to teach the passing and shooting but also how to PLAY the 5 on 5 game, not just play one-on-one or how to run a play. Players should understand... Why are we reversing the ball. How do we exploit defensive rotations? The value of moving without the ball even if you are not going to get the ball. The hockey assist: the pass that leads to the pass. Passing to get a better angle for another pass. And, having all 5 players understanding what we are trying to get then spacing themselves and working together to get it.

Other Observations… 

3. Bill Walton has discovered Wikipedia: “The greatest thing in the history of the internet” 

Why does this guy keep getting jobs? He reads from an encyclopedia of information on each team, city or country and then over exaggerates every play or player as being the greatest of all time.  Example: Carmelo Anthony did a wide open two feet, two handed dunk that was labeled one the “greatest dunks in the history of international basketball”   

4. Sam Dalembert does a great thing and then a bad thing for Canada basketball By getting his citizenship at the eleventh hour and playing for the team, our man Sam (originally Haitian born but raised in PQ) helped us out tremendously by giving the Canucks a defensive presence in the middle and some much needed legitimacy to the program.  However, he proved why Steve Nash Jamal Maglore and others shy away from the summer program. Dalambert is now officially on the DL with a stress fracture from playing this summer. This is exactly why the pros do not want to play in the summer. Unfortunately, he did nothing to dispel this fear. 

 5. American Ego 

If I have to hear one more American writer or commentator say that the Americans have now “reasserted their dominance in the game” or “are going back to their rightful place atop the world of basketball” I might go out and buy Brittany Spears’ new CD to punish myself. They beat Argentina’s B team by 19 and gave up over 100 to Mexico! They are very good, but let’s wait to see them play Spain, France, Greece and full squad of Argentines before their head swells up too much.  

6. Kobe Bryant is really, really good.  

I know what you saying, yeah no kidding idiot! Let me explain. I am sure there are many haters out there of the “Black Mamba” as he likes to call himself but he really showed something that he does not show often in the NBA. He guarded the other team’s best player and made them look like junior high kids. I know you may say they were not that good and you might be right some of the time. However, the way he embarrassed Leandro Barbosa and Brazil and Carlos Arroyo Puerto Rico was impressive. The fact that now we know he can do this at will along with score 50+ any night is a little scary. When he chooses to, he is both the best offensive player and one of top 3-4 defensive player in the world. I am trying to think of someone who could claim that ever. (err…Jordan maybe and Wilt was in the right mood)   

Interesting Quote of the week:

Golden State Warriors’ seldom used guard Sarunus Jasikevicius on deciding if he will walk away from the final year of his contract to go play in Europe“(I would like to play on an NBA team) that plays more European. You know my style of basketball is more team-oriented, and I hope to find a team that actually passes the ball and plays team ball."   


You Tube Clip of the week:

11 Guys you will find on a pick up basketball court 

Think Kobe can D up? Think American basketball is the best best model? Are you a pick up baller that gets fouled on every play? Lets here your thoughts below.

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