With the offishall Senior Men's roster finally out, the Can Ball Report gives its brief two cents on it and the decision that could come back to haunt the team ...
So last night when I got home from a very long day at work saving children (really, that’s what I do-sorta), I finally got a chance to sit down and look over the roster of players that will make up the offishall Road Warriors summer 2010 edition. I must say that I am both shocked and surprised at what I saw made up the roster! OK, not actually shocked but was definitely surprised by the names that were on the list for sure.
Running up and down the list, there are four new faces to the team from last summer which makes up 33.3% new personnel. Those faces are Gonzaga Bulldog teammates Rob Sacre and Kelly Olynyk, Halifax Rainman Jevohn Sheppard and the one-time UConn Huskie Denham Brown. Missing from last season’s team were Kyle Landry, Tyler Kepkay, Carl English and Jesse Young. Now of the remaining eight players only one has not been with the Senior Team longer than two summers (Aaron Doornekamp). The last seven have seen the team build from the ground up for the most part and know that a big deal this event is for the team, the program and the sport in general.
I’ve been waiting for a long time to talk about the roster so here is what I think of the present team as it is assembled to rep the Great White North.
In losing two very good guys, Carl English and Jesse Young, you not only lose veteran floor and locker room presence but you lose two guys that have been there from the beginning before all the success and in Young’s case, long before the success. They know that blowout losses and can temper the young team in the wins now. They are both true leaders and professionals and they will be missed. What will not be missed is the erratic shooting of English and the strong yet slow footed defense of Young. I love those two guys to death and they are truly very good people outside the game but they could both keep you in the game and sometimes take you out of it too. It sucks that they were sorta forced off the team due to injuries (and in Jesse’s case possibly career jeopardizing) but I think that this time around there would have been a need for a change anyway.
With the current lineup, there is an obvious move to a more mobile and athletic team. That I think is a great move particularly since there are no star players on this edition of the Red and White. All the bigs can run the floor and all the quicks can burn on the break. A rotation of Brown, Famutimi and Sheppard on the wing is excellent since they all have similar athleticism with each one bringing a specific skill the other lacks. The addition of Sacre to the mix to help spell Anthony is great since he’s not only a big body kid but he’s also taller and just as mobile, if not more, than Joel. The rest of the players all fill their roles well and can step in to play different lineups and situations as they come. What Coach Leo has been preaching is right when he says that there isn’t a large drop off in talent from starter to bench. Shooters can step in for shooters. Bangers can step in for bangers and wings can step in for wings. I would definitely give this team a thumbs up.
So what’s the catch Ray?
Here it is. What I see is a major issue is the obvious: health. If we remember from the many stories written by "official" media, the team has been banged up of late. Bucknor got hurt recently along with Doornekamp, Rock Anderson has been cracked with an injury and Rautins Padawan has not played since the Toronto exhibition games. With everyone healthy, Canada looked every bit as good as we Canadian basketball fans would have thought-and that’s without Jermaine Anderson at the point. With key guys down (or possibly going down), this team looks like it’s going to have a tough time keeping afloat in this tournament even if the field is wide open (read not clear cut winner but with enough teams to bury any team not prepared or ready to play at this level). With that being said, there would need to be three guys at each position to, as Bog Boi put it, back up the backup plan. Without that, what all this means is that it could get really ugly really fast.
Not a good look.
Taking this into consideration, I think I’ll go off on a tangent now. I have my sentimental favorites to make the team every year but I think at this juncture in time, Canada needed to pull a rabbit out of its proverbial hat but instead pulled out something else more like an albatross. I think you should all know who I’m eluding to when I say albatross. With that I was very surprised to see the name Tyler Kepkay missing but the name Andy Rautins on the roster.
Now don’t get me wrong here. I love me some Andy Rautins and I have been the ONLY person I know (outside of the HQ team and Brian88) who thought he would be Drafted this year in June let alone even knew who he was. I love that Andy has expanded his game and is a very capable lead guard but in a time like this I would have thought that he would have been given the red light. He not only has a career to think about in about 6-8 weeks but he’d be a game time decision every time out. Something I read yesterday had Leo quoted as saying something along the line of Andy is very important to what the team does. Fine, that is a given. But in the same quote he also said that the team is at a point where they are not sure how much time, (and I assume meaningful time) Andy can put out on the floor. Kepkay is obviously no Andy Rautins but he is a very good shooter and a very tough defender in my opinion and Ty can for sure play the backup role at the one. I think he can run the point well, at the very least a little better than Ryan Bell who is more suited to the off the ball position. I'm sure that Andy was being counted on to help run the point but with Rock hurting, I would think this would be the logical choice to go with a healthy Kepkay than a question mark Rautins.
I think Canada made a huge statement by making it to the World Championships but regardless of what successes have happened or are being expeceted right now the program is still building towards the future. I think the Olympics is where the real groundwork now will get to be seen in its full glory. I don’t think risking further injury to Rautins, who looks to be a centerpiece in the program for years to come and is a burgeoning NBA player, should be taken for the sake of this event. I think Papa Leo should have pulled to plug on Andy and shelved him for Kepkay, or anyone else for that matter now. Leo and the staff thought differently here and I hope they made the right decision.
My tangent is now over. Please return to cherring your 2010 Road Warriors as they take on Lebanon later on this morning. Go Canada Go!!!