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0 - 3? What Up Wit Dat?!?!

After these first three games could Coach Leo be looking at the front door for an escape hatch or a new plan of attack?
After these first three games could Coach Leo be looking at the front door for an escape hatch or a new plan of attack?

What is up with this 0-3 record for Team Canada in Turkey? We here at The Can Ball Report were confounded by the record as anyone so we posed this simple question to our Twitter peeps and we got a few answers. We take the three most common ones and take a look at them ...

What is up with Team Canada? No really, what’s up?

It was just two short weeks ago that they seemed to be a team that could drop points on anyone and lock up any team trying to make a comeback. So what is going on right now?

In the last three games in Turkey, Canada has been up 17 points in one game, lost a lead in the last minutes of the game and was outplayed by a team that clearly was inferior thanks to fourth quarter collapses. Needless to say they all resulted in losses for the Red and White and this has all served to put any hopes of advancing to the next round at these World Championships in serious jeopardy.

But what is the deal?

Since I've been stuck at work for all the games saving lives (really I have been) I put that question out on the Can Ball Report’s Twitter profile and there are some recurring things that kept coming back: Canada has no go to offensive player, the team’s talent is not very good and the coaching is suspect. This is coming from people who range from fans to basketball personnel and though I always take what most people tell me with some degree of salt, I have to give some of these points some credence since they are being said by multiple people. So let me address some of those concerns …

The idea that Canada has no go to guy is about right first of all. At this level, you would think that guys can put the ball in the bucket. At any position, any player on their respective teams should be able to score but that doesn’t mean that they are guys you want with the ball with the game on the line. Canada has a bunch of guys that can score but are not THAT guy. No offense to anyone, they just aren’t. I don’t see Denham Brown or Jevohn Sheppard or Jermaine Bucknor or even Joel Anthony being that player. I would’ve like to think that Andy Rautins could be that guy but it’s a little hard when he’s either playing limited minutes in less than 100% physical health, more so when he’s not playing at all. So where does that leave us? Wishing that Carl English was in uniform? I don’t think so. I don’t think platooning the game winning play between five guys is the answer. It just doesn’t work. Someone needs to step up here and take it upon themselves to take responsibility AND make the right play. At least we can assemble the next team.

On to the next one …

Now I’ve been hearing for years that Canada has been fielding some crappy National Teams, largely due to players not wanting to suit up. Well, that may have been true at some time but right now I think the current team is very talented. As someone pointed out last night on Twitter (big shout to QHoops) the team has really been underachieving so far this tournament. Losses to two teams that Canada should have beat and then lose a large lead to a team that they really had no business being up on. If people can remember that two weeks ago Canada crushed China and France (the French twice) so there the team can ball. That should tell people that despite missing some other players, and you can say whatever name you want, this team could still win games with its current roster. But yet, the W is still elusive for our boys. Being up 17 on Lithuania shows the team can do it but the losses to Lebanon and France show that there is something missing. It’s not talent that’s for sure so what is it?

I think the next gripe the logical step to what may be the cause of these (mounting) losses. This one is more of a serious indictment of the organization and the rumbling is that the coaching was suspect. I guess, since I have not seen a game yet thanks to my place of gainful employment preventing me from doing so since I want to eat, I am relying on my faithful Twitter peeps and the boxscores from the games. What I understand is that there have been suspect substitution patterns and poor decisions down the stretch. Now I’m not a coach, and I don’t claim to know how to or how hard it is, but I think as a ball player and fan that I can infer that there if people are saying there is an issue, there must be an issue.

I don’t know if Leo is a true coach in the sense that he didn’t have a coaching job before this one but that has to be a point of contention now. He’s had a few years to get some under his belt and should have a grasp of the position. He’s managed to assemble a set of guys that have years of experience to help with the decision making and training and if this is the result then there is something a wry here. Now having watched the two games against France, I was a little surprised at his sub patterns and his willingness to leave guys out there to work through rough spots but attributed it to as a test of players who are all essentially trying out. Maybe that was all just how he liked to coach and if so, I can see why many may be asking for him to go now. I think this tournament will be the make or break for Coach Rautins for the following summer for Canadian basketball fans for sure.

Going over these things has me thinking that the high hopes for the National Team at this World Championships are going to go unfounded. There are two games left in their pool before the eliminations begin and it’s looking quite dim right now. They need to win these next two games against a resurgent New Zealand team and a powerhouse in Spain who despite their play so far are more than formidable. If the team doesn’t win these two, not only will Canada end another disappointing run at a world event but the talk of the program taking a slide again will be underlying the can Leo cries. I’ll let you decide what will be more deafening.