If you haven't heard by now, and you all should have, Steve Nash was named the General Manager of the Senior Men's National Team Tuesday. In what was long speculated and hoped for, Canada's golden boy has returned to the National Program that he grew up in and helped take to lofty height just at the turn of the century. So what does this mean for Canada Basketball? Can Ball Ray takes a look at three aspects that the Nash Effect will have on the program right here starting with the talent ...
Nash returning to Canada Basketball is nothing short of a godsend for the organization.
For a country such as Canada to have such a recent surge of talent in the last five years on both domestic and international stages and not have the Senior Men's National Team qualify for the Olympics in 2012 showed that there was lack of something.
And that something was players.
Now when I say that the team was lacking players I mean Canada's elite talent. There have been very good players on the SMNT in recent years and they have performed admirably in the face of what they were put up against. In my opinion they overachieved the last two years and the worst thing they did was qualify for last summer's World Championships.
I know the likes of Jermaine Anderson, Levon Kendall, Jesse Young, Jevohn Shepherd, Joel Anthony and Andy Rautins and the other guys that donned the Red and White and played their hearts out but in the end the talent to get the team over the hump (whether injury or the last 2 minutes of a tight game) was just not there. It just wasn't. I don't think that the outcomes would have been any different if all the players were healthy last summer.
If you go through the roster of names from the teams that were coached by Leo Rautins, you could probably list at least five guys or more that you wonder why they were not on the roster. It just seems that some of the more talented players have not shown up to play.
Now that can be attributed to various reasons and I'm not about to point the finger at any one thing (or two or five) in particular because the bottom line is that guys didn't show up to play, period. For whatever reason, end of story. This is the area that Kid Canada is going to have the most important impact on the team. Nash can use his influence to help draw talented players to the program and that is what will help turn this situation around in the short and long term.
Looking short term, Nash can lobby for players to help build the team for the coming FIBA World Championships in 2014. What he does is bring back vets from what we'll the Dark Period (of between 2004 to 2006) to the team while also bringing in young players and those that may have not been with the team some time together.
This open mix of guys like Rautins, Anthony and Carl English and young bucks with international minutes like Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph and Myck Kabongo and new guys like Andrew Nicholson help to infuse the necessary youth with grizzled experience. Young challenging old and old mentoring young. A great situation. This team could make noise, enough noise to put the team in the Worlds and place decent enough to qualify for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament and possibly into the Olympics.
Looking long term, the Nash Effect can also be felt. Taking the example outlined in the short term, this helps to build a model of progressive success that lends itself to be built upon. Success will always help to breed more success and this is the principle that I think will be most active for the SMNT program.
Getting players to buy into the program now while still early in their careers will help to draw in others coming down the pipe. The incremental success begin to instill a sense of pride for the program that players such as Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Ennis, Anthony Bennett, Duane Notice, Kyle Wiltjer and Khem Birch will be looking to continue that success. These players will in turn inspire the next wave of ballers behind them with the same desire to continue the success and build on it. I find this to be the case with the Hockey Canada. Players coming up the line to fill the spots of players leaving the programs seem to have a fierce sense of pride when playing for Canada and will run through walls to get a jersey. This is the kind of long term effect that Nash can have when it comes to players.
Nash will have a long road ahead of him to bring the SMNT to where he enjoyed playing at - somewhere heading to the top of the list on the FIBA rankings. Canada's men currently sit at 24 just a point above Puerto Rico, one point behind Lebannon and almost 40 points behind Iran. Once Nash draws the talent to the team and the program again, there should be a substantial climb on the chart come 2013.