After a spirited practice that saw me standing beside the esteemed Ken Olynyk, Kelly dad's to all of you young'ns, I got to steal a few minutes with the Canada's Senior Men's coach Leo Rautins. We picked his brain a little and we got some great nuggets for y'all. Check out the conversation here ...
You may remember Leo Rautins from his playing days with the National Team or you may remember him more recently as one of the commentators on Raptors broadcasts but you should know him now as the head coach of the Canadian Senior Men's Team. The teams he's coached over the last few summers have tasted both failure and now tremendous success which they are looking to ride into the FIBA World Basketball Championships in September. We caught up with Coach Rautins at the ACC this past Saturday to pick his brains on the team, the style and what the team's biggest challenge is ...
Can Ball Report: When it comes to this team, what do you think is the biggest challenge?
Coach Leo Rautins: I think it’s just understanding that we don’t have any margin for error. We gotta play perfect basketball. That doesn’t mean we have to make every shot, never make a mistake. I mean we really have to understand who we are, what we have to do, how we have to play, our intensity has to be a certain level. It’s all those things that have to come together. We aren’t super talented as some of these teams we’re going to face but I think we’re fairly balanced so that gives us good depth and there’s not a lot of difference between our first guy or second guy. And the chemistry with this group is tremendous so if we can put all that together, that has to be who we are. We have to do all the little things to win.
CBR: With two vets of previous National Team campaigns Carl English and Jesse Young out this time around due to injury, who’s stepping into that leadership role this summer?
Rautins: We have a lot of guys that have kinda been our core (team). Andy’s been one of our core guys and now he’s at a high level in confidence. Joel’s one of our core guys and now he’s at a high level in his confidence. Levon Kendall’s been here since day one and even though he’s coming off injury he’s at a high level right now. You can go across the board, all the guys that have been our core they’re all stepping up. The one thing that I like about this group, is that everybody in their respective environments, whether pro team or club team, they’ve all gotten better. They’ve all improved as players, they’ve all matured. So we have a lot of different guys that may be able to step up. Even a Denham Brown who’s been through his experiences is in a good place right now and I think his experiences, good and bad, lead to good for this team. We have a lot of different guys that can step up. And what happens with any team, you’ll see who those guys have are when you together and playing. I think this group has a lot of trust in one another that means that you have guys that will challenge each other, get in each other’s faces, push each other and then go out for a beer after.
CBR: Is there anyone you see as being that go to offensive player?
Rautins: We run a system that’s an equal opportunity system. If you look at last year I think we had six different leading scorers. I think the danger you have in these tournaments, which are a grind, (is if) one guy is your guy every night. He’s going to wear down and teams focus in on him. On a given night it may be Andy, another it may be Joel, it may be Aaron, it could be Rock. We got a lot of different guys and I think depending on the match up, depending on the team, depending on how many games we’re in, who’s feeling the shot can step up. I dunno if we really a guy that’s a real go to guy. I know we got guys who want the ball, that aren’t afraid to make big shots, I think we got guys that want that but I think we have to be smart enough to realize who we put in that situation and what time of the game and against who is what’s going to make this a winning team.
CBR: We’ve been seeing more a Euro feel to this team in past summers, particularly with the addition of Coach Renato Pasquali. Do you feel that this is the summer that all the guys are now get the system?
Rautins: Yeah! We established our system last summer, what we want, how we want to play – remember most of our guys play in Europe - so they understand how international ball is played. I think we’re far more an international team than a North American team in terms of our style and if you’re going to play international ball that’s how you gotta be. I think our guys are very comfortable, buying into it, they understand it more and I think that is going to make us a better team.
CBR: Thanks Coach Rautins and best of luck against China and France
Remember that if you're in Vancouver, the Senior Men tip off against China at Rogers Arena at 7:00pm local time. You can still get great tickets for the game and can get more info here at Canada Basketball. If you're not in BC, you can check out the game hereat SportsCanada.tv.