Friday, September 11, 2015

Canadian Basketball intervention

I first had to fight whether I cared enough about today's loss in the FIBA Men's Olympic Basketball qualifier to pen a piece harnessing my thoughts about the Canadian national team, and after some though provoking analysis, it's clear to me that I can classify today's loss to Venezuela as disastrous......we just lost to Venezuela for gosh sakes! The analogy to this Canadian squad losing to the Venezuelans would be to the Belarusians KO'ing the Swedes in ice hockey at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake. What went wrong, how does a team that includes two recent first overall picks in Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett get beat, albeit on a last second controversial call to a much inferior opponent? Steve Nash is widely viewed as a Canadian hero, and the way he evolutionized basketball in Canada will always go down with high esteem but conversely ignoring the praise for just one second, I place a significant amount of blame on him because he was largely responsible for constructing this team. My biggest complaint enlies with the issue that a basketball supernova in Nash couldn't convince Cleveland Cavaliers renowned rebounder Tristan Thompson to come play for the National team. You don't see  Wayne Gretzky or Captain serious himself Jonathan Toews decline an invitation to play for their esteemed country. It's absolutely pathetic and this is coming from a loyal Cleveland Cavaliers fan if for no other reason than they include one of my athletical heroes in Lebron James. Thompson will live or die by the excuse that stalled contract negotiations with the Cavaliers debilitated his ability to play for Canada, but I don't  buy that one ioda. The simple truth is, and some Americans are as if not more guilty and that is a perceived lack of passion from playing internationally, as the patriotism just doesn't resonate as it does in other sports. Sure, I totally understand that this is the summer for when the tournament adheres which is the players off-season, but it's about time that these players start showing a greater appreciation for these program that greatly assisted them when they were amateur athletes prior to turning professional. I elt as if Steve Nash, who oversees the program could've done a better job selling his own brand and better selling the brand of Basketball Canada in enticing Thompson to come play. I hold Nash as much responsible as I do Nash. Another issue that I want to explore, can the real Andrew Wiggins please stand up? For years, the Canadian media was hyping Andrew Wiggins to be the next Lebron James which I always thought was an unfair comparison because I have and always hold Lebron in the highest regard and even during his time donning the Kansas Jayhawks sweater, I was consistently left underwhelmed.  I don't claim to be any sort of basketball expert, although give it time and it's surely to happen but my thoughts are Wiggins plays too soft, too much of a perimeter player and needs to start exuding more aggressiveness on the floor. His scoring is commendable but his defence for which all of the college commentators while playing for Kansas always pumped up and in his defense I will admit I'm not sure if their was one game this year I caught of him playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves so if defence has improved I apologize but in this tournament it was putrid. I know what I'm about to compare his defence may indeed be one of the most overused analogies in this blog but I'd be much more confident with Andrea Bargnani playing defence than Wiggins himself and as the great Bob McCown once iconically said, "I wouldn't trust Bargnani guarding the coach". This great quote and my above thoughts illustrate my confidence, or lack their of in Wiggins defensive abilities.  For Canada to flourish for years internationally and to seal a better fate in next summer's Olympic qualification tournament, we need to begin to see a more physically mature Wiggins and someone who shows a great deal of fortitude in order for the expected greatness to be reached.


Brett Murray

Twitter: @bretzky26

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