March 5, 2012
Triano next Capt. Canada?
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
TORONTO - It was only a matter of time before Jay Triano would assume a role that suited him perfectly, a matter of circumstance permitting the native of Niagara Falls to rejoin Canada Basketball.
The time is not now, but it will soon arrive, likely once this summer’s Olympics are put to bed, for Triano to lead what many believe is the golden age of Canadian hoops, when so much homegrown talent is either playing in the NBA or is knocking on its doors.
The buzz among basketball’s circles, at least in Canada, is that Triano will succeed Leo Rautins as national team head coach.
It should be clearly pointed out that nothing is official, but unofficially all signs are pointing to Triano leading a new wave of talent that features Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph with a pool of talent so deep that it would be foolish to start naming all the names playing in U.S. prep schools or at big-time NCAA programs.
No one other than Steve Nash has been the face of basketball in Canada more than Triano, who did all he could during his ill-fated run as Raptors head coach after Sam Mitchell was shown the door.
Despite what people said and reported, Triano was basically undermined when he followed a plan to go with youth in a developmental season, only to see the Raptors not exercise their option, a move that ushered in Dwane Casey as head coach.
Truth be told, Casey should have been hired 10 years ago when he served as an assistant in Seattle, a time when the Raptors were in the market for a coach to replace Lenny Wilkens.
As is its nature, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment interfered in the coaching process and decided to go with Kevin O’Neill, who kept Triano as an assistant.
Whether it was in Vancouver or Toronto, Triano was and remains a highly respected basketball personality, both nationally and globally.
His work with USA Basketball speaks volumes and his highly anticipated involvement with Canada Basketball will send a strong signal of a new beginning and hopefully the start of Canada’s ascension in the basketball world.
It’s also expected that Nash will soon return to his basketball roots in Canada, a position some believe will be as general manager.
Basketball officials have to be careful because Triano is technically under contract for the U.S., which will be favoured to capture gold in London.
Nash is under no obligations and an announcement on Captain Canada’s role with Canada Basketball may come as early as next month.
Canada hasn’t played in any significant event since the 2000 Olympics, a showcase that featured Nash at the point position and Triano as head coach.
Despite Rautins’ efforts, he simply did not have the necessary talent to compete on the international stage.
When Rautins took over from Triano, there simply was too much baggage to overcome, too many voices pulling at grass-roots prospects that spelled certain doom.
But a lot has changed and a lot can be achieved with both Triano and Nash set to come on board.
Triano played 11 years for the national team, serving as captain for seven seasons. At the 1985 World University Games in Japan, he carried the Canadian flag during the opening ceremony.
Two years earlier in Edmonton, Triano led a Canadian team that beat a U.S. side spearheaded by Charles Barkley and Karl Malone in the semifinal of the World University Games. In the gold-medal game, Canada beat Yugoslavia, which featured Drazen Petrovic.
As coach of the Canadian team, Triano was at the helm from 1998-2004.
What’s sad about basketball in Canada is that, far too often, mainstream media is so fixated on basketball down south that events such as this weekend’s CIS championship in Halifax get ignored, or at best are given token coverage.
Naturally, when the hype machine that is NCAA March Madness begins, coverage is the over the top, even though there’s little exposure during the season.
And let’s be perfectly clear: If it wasn’t for the gambling aspect, no one would care because no one would recognize half of the tournament teams.
The media made far too much of whispers that Rajon Rondo was being peddled.
If any player on Boston is invaluable, it’s Rondo, one of the best point guards in the NBA when he’s playing under control.
No player has posted more triple-doubles this year than Rondo, who had a game for the ages in helping Boston beat the Knicks in Sunday’s wild overtime win.
“I know we’re all in this together, but it’s great when he takes over like that,” Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said of Rondo. “He’s the smartest point guard I’ve ever been around. He’s a brilliant player like that.”
For Rondo, it was his fourth triple-double of the year and 17th of his career.
“That’s the Rondo we like to see, playing with all that energy,” Celtics captain Paul Pierce said. “He got the guys the ball in open spots; he did everything for us. He rebounded, he passed, he got the clutch rebound there in overtime and got the layup. That’s the Rondo I like to see.”
As well as Boston has played of late, there’s still talk that changes are coming.
But don’t expect Rondo to be part of them.
NO DEAL? GOOD THING!
A lot was made of the aborted deal that would’ve seen Jose Calderon land in Charlotte in a package that would have brought Boris Diaw to Toronto.
Tyson Chandler and Reggie Evans each had expiring contracts and it’s doubtful Chandler would have stayed long term with the Raps, while Evans would have grown tired at the losing in Charlotte.
The way things have unfolded with Diaw, it’s a good thing Calderon wasn’t dealt. People can question his defence and lack of aggression at times on offence, but Calderon is a proven commodity. If not for his inflated price tag, he would be viewed differently.
With Diaw, his act has worn thin with Bobcats head coach Paul Silas. He is a free agent this summer and there’s a good chance he’ll get moved by the March 15 trade deadline.
“I would like for him to take more shots,” Silas said of the shot-shy Diaw. “When you don’t shoot and you pass it to someone else, it’s normally a worse shot than you had.”
GOING ALL TO BLAZERS
The Portland Trail Blazers are imploding for all to see.
It’s so bad in Rip City that head coach Nate McMillan’s days appear numbered, which is saying a lot when one considers the team has no general manager.
Still, there’s talk of McMillan perhaps one day landing in Charlotte, where Paul Silas hasn’t exactly been able to turn around the fortunes of a foundering franchise.
In Charlotte, talent is thin and owner Michael Jordan isn’t exactly in spend mode.
In Portland, there is talent, but the players are not on the same page and each of the team’s recent loses have been ugly.
Raymond Felton is stewing now that Jamal Crawford is starting at point guard, while Marcus Camby is looking too lethargic.
Joel Przybilla must be wondering why he came back when the serviceable big could have gone to a place such as Miami, where the Heat desperately covet such a player.
“I don’t think the effort was there in the first quarter,” he said following Saturday’s loss to Minnesota when the visitors wound up scoring 120 points. “You can’t give up 40 points (in a quarter) in your own building. You just can’t.”
Turns out you can and it’s why people in Portland are reaching out for the panic button.
AROUND THE RIM
There’s nothing wrong with Chris Kaman that extended minutes can’t cure, no reason to think he can’t contribute when he is playing. The problem in New Orleans is that Hornets basically shut down Kaman after he was acquired from the Clippers in a package involving Chris Paul. With the March 15 trade deadline fast approaching, Kaman’s name is once again front and centre. “I don’t care what they do,’’ he said. “If they want to trade me, trade me. If they want to keep me, keep me. I don’t care, but not in a disrespectful way. I just know I can’t control that part of it, so it’s something I don’t care about.’’ Good on Kaman ... Erik Spoelstra’s coaching acumen gets overlooked with so much talent in Miami, but Dwyane Wade appreciates the bench boss. “Most coaches are stuck in their ways,” said Flash. “He has done a good job this year of coming in with a more open mind. We’ve been able to communicate more. I’m not saying that what we want to do is going to happen, but he has been very receptive and open to the things players and his coaches want to do. He is growing.”