If you were out of the country or in a coma, you might have missed the news of the World Team defeating the US Team in the annual Nike Hoop Summit in Portland this past Easter Weekend. If you missed that then you also missed that Canada's Roy Rana was the head coach of that World Team. Can Ball Ray got a few moments to talk to Rana when he returned from his week in Portland to talk about the event and the Canadian contingent Anthony Bennett and the game's breakout star Andrew Wiggins all right here ...
Coach Roy Rana, head coach of the Ryerson University Rams Men's basketball team and current head of the Cadet Men's National Team, took some time out to give us a look into his experiences and impressions of the Nike Hoop Summit right here ...
Can Ball Ray: Well Coach Rana, congratulations on beating the US with the World Team at last week's Nike Hoop Summit. How was it going over to coach the World Team again for the second time? Where there any differences from last year?
Roy Rana: I'm a little more accustomed to how it works now. I know what to expect, you know how many people are around and when open practices are and closed practices are, so you have a feel for how the process works (now).
CBR: What was the biggest challenge this time around for you?
RR: Really just keeping it simple. Not over coaching, not putting too many different things, trying to help our kids manage (the) distractions of the many NBA people around the event.
Also, a big hurdle was the language. For the most part they all understood the language but we (sometimes) fail to realize some of the slang, the way we say things here in Canada and North America are maybe not as clear from an English perspective. So just being conscious of what we're saying. And for the Wang Zhelin he had a translator so (just always being mindful).
CBR: For the most part, the World Team consisted of guys that have already been playing as professionals for a couple of years. How was coaching them and were there any differences between Bennett and Wiggins and these players?
RR: It was pretty easy, really. Some of these kids, they're being coached by legends in their home countries and the professional level so their IQs are high and they understand how to play. Are the significant differences between Anthony and Wiggins I wouldn't say so. All the kids seemed to pick up on the stuff rather quickly, bought in and were great.
CBR: The World Team won the game over the US but how do you feel your team performed?
RR: I thought for three, three and a half quarters we were pretty good. We had one stretch where we got pretty sloppy with turnovers and allowed the US to convert on those turnovers but other than that I thought we were very, very good.
CBR: Now let's backtrack a little bit. How did you even get to this point coaching at this event in the first place?
RR: Last year, the coach of the team Rob Beveridge who coaches professionally in Australia in Perth had been the long time coach at the Hoops summit, going on nine years. But the (NBL) play off schedule ran a little later (that season) and he wasn't able to do the event and they were looking for someone to take it on and my name got pushed forward. Fortunately, when the weighed all the candidates and options they decided I'd be a good fit. I've been lucky and fortunate and they liked what happened last year when (the World Team) only lost by 12 to an absolutely incredible US Team and I was asked to come back.
CBR: The big buzz was about Andrew Wiggins after his great performance. You've coached him for a few summers before now. How do you feel Andrew's come along as a player?
RR: He's just continues to reinforce what his potential is going to be. Not only did he have a great game but a great week. He showed his versatility, his skill set (and) obviously he's a great athlete. He basically showed all his strengths, and a couple of weaknesses but those are more youth and inexperience. There is no question he's very unique in the world.
CBR: Now you saw him match up with the high school National Player of the Year in Shabazz Muhammad. Compare his performance to that of Shabazz.
RR: Andrew matched him in the first half bucket for bucket and defensively gave him a lot of trouble. He forced him to shoot a low percentage. If you're talking about differences, Andrew scored in so many different ways: catch and shoot three, off the dribble pull up, get to the basket and finish at the rim, scoring through defense. He created plays in so many different ways that it said a lot about him as a player.
CBR: Anthony Bennett is another player you had been able to coach for a few summers before last weekend. Now he was coming off an injury this season and he seemed to be limping at one point in the game. How about did you feel Bennett fared?
RR: He was a monster on the glass and he grabbed key ones down the stretch. He continues to develop himself as an elite shooter and he's a great shooter for his size and position. Inside he's a finisher and he showed that in practice. He's got some work to do but I think he's established himself as a potential NBA prospect all week as well as showing great leadership.
CBR: How do you feel now about these two players and where they are presently after having coached them in previous years?
RR: You just can't help but be excited for them and for the country. They're maturing nicely and not only their games but (themselves as) people. They're just character kids and great young men and I think they carried themselves well and represented their country well. The sky's the limit for them and they will hopefully be huge pieces of our national team moving forward.
CBR: Do you think that these two players, and other at events like this, are helping to build a profile for the game in Canada?
RR: It certainly can't hurt. They're building a real following for the sport in Canada and internationally people are seriously thinking that there is a pool of talent in this country. I keep telling people that it's not a fluke, continue to expect more coming down the pipeline and it's exciting. (Both kids) along with Cory and Tristan, Pangos and Kabongo are building a buzz with young kids in the sport and it'll only help grow the sport and they are doing great things as ambassadors (for the game here).
CBR: Thanks once again for taking the time to speak to us Coach Rana. We'll look forward to seeing a lot more of you come summertime.