Leo Rautins and Basketball Canada

According to Michael Grange, Leo Rautins could soon be fired as head coach of the Canadian basketball team. His dealings with Dalembert reminded me a little of how Butch Carter caused a fuss when he sued Marcus Camby in the middle of the playoffs that one spring. Sure, Camby played for the other team while Dalembert was one of our own but the disruption caused by the events can easily be pointed out as one of the reasons why the team lost.

Grange isn’t blaming Canada Basketball’s pathetic record on coaching alone, he says:

There is talent in Canada, too. It needs to be well-coached, to be sure. But no amount of coaching can make up for the lack of nurturing, money, commitment and planning required to turn talent into wins internationally.

The problems with this program obviously run deep and if their going to be fixed its going to happen from a top-down approach rather than by firing the coach. To fire Leo at this point would indicate that he’s a large reason why the team failed which simply isn’t true, you can’t blame a crack in the window for letting air in when the entire thing is shattered.

There is talent in Canada, I’ve seen it myself. I’ve seen it in gyms, in high schools and even in Canadian colleges and universities. Expansive scouting is the key to building any good program in any sport and it’s there that the program appears to be failing the country. We shouldn’t need NBA players like Steve Nash, Samuel Dalembert or Jamal Magloire to qualify for the Olympics, we should be able to find enough intelligent and talented players that if they play organized basketball a few times a year they’ll be gelled enough to compete in international competitions.

The other major problem with basketball in Canada is the lack of a legitimate pro-league which leaves many Canadians hanging out to dry. European countries like Croatia, Russia and many more all have basketball leagues where the natives are abundant and which allow the national team coach to handpick players from a collective talent pool. In Canada, when a good college player graduates and can’t find NBA or European employment he’s forced to move away from basketball to earn a living thus killing potential that could’ve helped the national team down the road.

You can argue that Canada’s not enough of a basketball country to support a pro-league enough to make it survive or make it financially feasible. You might be right there but this is where the “money argument” holds merit. You need money for a project like this to happen and if Michael Grange is to be believed, we don’t have any. After seeing how the National Basketball League folded, investors will be weary of supporting any proposition that might result in a repeat financial disaster and who can blame them.

Some things need to get worse before they get better and Basketball Canada is one of them. We need to hit rock-bottom and only then we’ll realize the severity of the issue and how embarrassing it is for the nation that invented the sport to consistently miss key tournaments. Somebody in charge somewhere needs to reflect of just how bad this program has been and maybe then they can set the wheels in motion that will tear this ship down and start a new one from scratch.

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