The Can Ball Report takes a blinders look at what aspects helped in the win over Mexico.
Seeing as how we at the Can Ball Report are some (well for now one) of the most diehard of Canadian basketball fans, we have a game report for you loyal readers. Now seeing as how I was supposed to be at work for the Canada vs. Mexico game, I hadn’t made any arrangements for watching the game. So since I was stuck at home nursing some mystery ailment I managed to get two days ago, I was monitoring the FIBA play by play on the live stats ticker and through the various Twitter feeds that I’ve subscribed to.
I’ll make an attempt to give my impressions on today’s game and what led to the record setting win (the 40 total points by Mexico is a new FIBA Americas low). Without further ado, here it goes.
The first thing that stood out to me was the total turnovers by Canada. This summer, when I had spoken to several of the team members including Coach Rautins everyone made a mention of making sure to take care of the basketball and reduce turnovers. On the opposite end, the team wanted to force turnovers to help with create offensive opportunities. Well we can just say check and check. Canada took very good care of the ball only giving it up 13 times while forcing Mexico to give it up 15 times. In the past, Canada has been known to give up the ball a lot but this game may have turned over a new leaf. Coach Leo has said that if they can keep the turnover low that the Road Warriors will be in any game their playing in and this is a good example of what can result if the rock is taken care off.
The second thing that stood out was the rebound margin. We have never been a really tough team historically when it comes to dominating the boards in international play. In fact, we may have had a rep of being polite (if not soft) like the Canadians we are. We lacked certain toughness in the middle in the past but this game there was not lack of it. Canada owned the glass, particularly on the defensive end outrebounding Mexico 34 to 20. It definitely helps that the other team shot 26% from the floor, but Canada was grabbing a lot of those loose balls. Led by the interior tag team of Levon Kendall and vet Jesse Young who accounted for 20 of the team’s 47 total rebounds, Canada may have found a new nose for the ball on the glass which will only help to win games.
The third stat that stood out was the foul differential. Canada had hacked, charged, pushed, player controlled or bumped one of the opponents 21 times. 21 TIMES! That in itself shouldn’t be a big deal but Mexico only got called for 13. That’s 8 more fouls, 1.3 players more by a Canadian team. I think this works with my last point about rebounding. This team has found some toughness that maybe was lacking in previous teams. You only need to go back to the little dust up with Italy in the exhibition game a few weeks ago to see it. The players on this team have had another year under their belts playing at very high levels, some overseas for the first time, which helpe to toughen them up some to the international game. This team is meaner and tougher than the previous ones and it’s spilled over into other areas that help this team like rebounding. This physical toughness must also lead to mental toughness since Canada won by 55 points and the Warriors did not show any noticeable signs (from my none visual having chair anyway) if letting up. Coach Leo mentioned that toughness, both mental and physical, was a must have for this to be successful at this tournament. Well, it looks like we both so far Coach.
Other highlights included the defense that Canada laid out which held Mexico to the previously mentioned 26% from the floor and 13% from the three. (I’ll even include the 46% from the line in that equation.) The Canadian defense helped to set a new low score for the tournament. Conversely, Canada shot 42% from the field and an even better 57.6% from the trey. All guns were a blazin’ that game.
So far, I’m impressed by the game. I was expecting Canada to win but I didn’t expect the win would be by this much. I think that the game is a very good indicator of how much the team has improved from last summer. The Road Warriors went into a winnable game and easily won whereas the same game last summer may have been a tough win. This team definitely has me impressed and wanting more thus far.