Coach Leo Rautins take some time to give the Can Ball Report his thoughts on Senior Men's National Team and their summer so far.
Leo Rautins is a veteran of the Canadian National Team Program. Having spent time as a player, he is the current head coach of Canada’s Senior Men’s Team. After the summer of 2008 where after many high expectations were not realized, this incarnation of the Road Warriors looks to be performing at the level most may have expected to happen last year. We caught up with Coach Leo in Toronto to get his take on the team’s summer so far and what his thoughts were on the progression of the current squad.
Can Ball: How do you feel the program’s progressed this summer?
Coach Rautins: It’s been a good summer. We have a Development Team that we took to Spain and they did very well. We were able to take a few players from that group and swing them over to this group. We went over to Italy and I thought we accomplished a few things. Our goal is to get better every game, every day we play, every practice, every game. We were able to do a lot of things defensively to establish who we are. Offensively we changed a lot of what we do and that seems to be working out very well. We have a long way to go but so far I have to say I’m pleased at where we’re at.
CB: How do you feel the mix of players has been through the various phases this summer?
CR: The mix has been good. You gotta remember with the first phase, there were guys that wouldn’t necessarily be in the next phase but the guys we anticipated would be in it got a little exposure to (the international game) already but they just got more experience. In the second phase that’s pretty much our nucleus. And the final phase we’re really just changing two players so it’s not that drastic a difference but it allows us to do a few things to kind of get us to where we need to get to.
CB: In the bigger picture, has the program made any big jumps compared to last summer?
CR: At the senior level your only jumps are where you’re at in terms of qualifying or not qualifying (for events). I think we’ve made huge strides in development. I think getting kids to want to play at the various levels because you gotta have the feeder system all the way up. The Cadets have had success, the Juniors have had success and the interest has been very good and it’s translated to the older group. It’s a building process and in the initial stages several years ago really the cupboards were bare. So now you’re trying to take those bare cupboards, put players in them up and develop those players and decorate your kitchen.
CB: Looking at this Senior Team and last summer’s team are there any marked differences you’ve noticed?
CR: There’s a big difference in terms of chemistry. The players that are back a year older, a year wiser. We had some injury issues that have been resolved. We had several key players that had physical problems last year that are healthy now. Like I said, just being a year old and wiser has seemed to help a great deal. These guys seem to really enjoy playing with each other. We found out in Italy that there was a very high level of camaraderie. Guys were buying into everything, sticking with each other and not getting frustrated like in the past. That’s part maturity, part understanding each other. And part of that is coaching. We’ve made some changes in terms of what we do and how we do it with different players. And also personnel changes as well. It all come into play and it’s so far been very positive.
CB: Lastly Coach, looking at the incident that happened in Italy, do you think that it’s helped to solidify the team and bring them closer together?
CR: I think anytime those things happen guys come together. It’s no different when you bring guys out and wine and dine together-that’s a bonding thing. If things happen on the floor and everybody comes together and fights for each other, it’s a bonding thing too. You can have that in practice within your own team. All those things are factors in helping your development. And I think that environment we were in, we’ll see that environment in Puerto Rico, we’ll see it in other places. All that is just more experience and another notch in the belt to keep building your team.
CB: Thanks for your time Coach and best of luck over the coming weeks. We look forward to the team’s continued success.
- For more info on the Senior Men's National Team and the other National Programs go to www.basketball.ca -