So this might be old news but based on Canada's performance over the weekend it got me thinking about Jay Triano. I had my reservations and still do about Jay but they are rapidly fading away. When I consider Team Canada let this guy go and that was a move I totally disagreed with at the time. In fact still do disagree with. The Score had a feature on Jay and his work with Team USA. I heard from players like Kevin Durant, David Lee and other players singing his praises. But not just them but people like Jerry Colangelo, Coach K from Duke also commenting on how good Jay was. It is a bit of an apples and oranges situation given that we are talking about international ball. But at the end of the day, if you are a good coach that should translate on all levels.
To watch the lack of discipline yesterday from Canada was to say the least disturbing. Canada also had a pier 6 brawl with Italy. Although in defense of Canada that was something not started by them. However yesterday in front of a packed house of Peurto Rico supporters Canada just lost it's cool. Jessie Young flipped off a ref according to the announcers and Leo Rautins got a technical foul as well. It was just the cherry on the Sunday, of what was not a great game. Canada has just one lone NBA player in Joel Anthony from the Miami Heat. Leo of course had his famous blow up with Sam Dalembert that has resulted in him no longer being part of the national program. Steve Nash has remained out of the mix for the entire Rautins era as well. Leo when he took on the role had little to no coaching experience.
So why on earth did Canada Basketball let a guy go, that since has went from Raptors assistant coach to head coach and works now for Team USA as part of their developmental staff. Even in my concerns I have had about Jay they have always been those of circumstance and nothing to do with his ability. There was an interesting story Jay shared on that piece on The Score. He said that back when Sam Mitchell had won Coach of the Year and could leave the Raptors because his contract was up. That he had said to Bryan Colangelo that he was thinking if Sam left and went elsewhere he may in fact go with him. The reason Jay gave was that he wanted to get out of the situation of him being the Canadian coach on Canada's NBA team. In other words to lose the tag of some thinking he was the "token" Canadian. Colangelo was upset and responded to Jay that if you were not good enough, Canadian or not he would have been gone a long ago.
Sam ending up staying as did Jay, and at least for Jay that has been a great thing. Mitchell gets fired and if Jay had any doubt in what Bryan had said to him, the fact he was named the head coach spoke volumes. Yet Canada Basketball let's this guy go? Now there are some positives in the program and if you look at the younger levels talent is coming for this program. However the fact that Canada has not qualified on the Men's side of things for a World Championship or Olympics since Jay left. It is more then likely if Canada fails to make the World Championships this time around, it will mean the end for Leo Rautins as head coach of the senior men's team. It may be a pipe dream but I would love to see his replacement be the same one he has on T.V. Jack Armstrong splits T.V duties with Leo, and just like in the broadcast booth, I think Jack would do a far better job than Leo. It is just my opinion, but I have some basis to think it. Jack was the youngest head coach in NCAA history when he started coaching in college. He ran a program in the Niagara Purple Eagles that were a small fish in a very big pond. He has great passion for the sport and is very knowledgeable as anyone that has watched him work the last 11 years with Raptors can see.
I have no idea if he would consider it or if Canada Basketball would consider him. The type of person that Jack is you will never hear him express an opinion about it as long as Leo has the job. That is just the type of stand-up person Jack is. The only thing I can say is that in interviews here on the Dino Nation Blog Jack has shared that you never lose the desire to coach. At least he never has. Despite the fact that he has done his role in the media for over a decade. I can tell you one thing for certain that you would not have seen the mess that I saw on Saturday and Sunday with Jack on the bench.
Turning attention back to Jay Triano, we are all going to get to see just what this guy can do this season. He has a roster full of new faces to work with. I think as Canadians we all want to see Jay succeed. If he does it will be a great story not just for the Raptors but for all of Canada. Maybe if he can have some success it can help build the national identity for the Raptors Organization. It is something I have always felt the Raptors could do a better job of. Sure they do a few thing in having the NBA 3 on 3 tour that goes across the country. They have played the odd exhibition game in various venues across the country. But it takes more than being like the circus coming to town to build that relationship with the rest of this country. Success and winning are the obvious answers for Canada to get Raptorized. However there are other small things that can be done to help establish them. Get people in the Organization on Radio and T.V across this country. Don't wait for them to come to you. Take the lead and go seek them out. Chris Bosh if he sticks around beyond this year, should be a national brand in this country not unlike Steve Nash is. Bosh will never be a Canadian but he is the star of Canada's team. There are hardcore basketball fans all across this country this country. I see it in the people that read the Dino Nation Blog. But it is about getting all of those casual sports fans to buy in. Which can be tough when Hockey is the first, second, third and forth story on most sportscasts across this country. Step by step be it the Raptors, Media or fans of the game we all need to do our part to grow the sport. If you truly love basketball it is your duty to do so. We are all responsible to share our love of Dr Naismith's great game.