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What Losing Dave Smart Means to the Senior Men's Program

Carleton Raven's fiercely intense Dave Smart is now the head coach of the British U20 Men's Team.  What does that mean for Canada Basketball? (Photo:  Chris Roussakis)
Carleton Raven's fiercely intense Dave Smart is now the head coach of the British U20 Men's Team. What does that mean for Canada Basketball? (Photo: Chris Roussakis)

Dave Smart, one of the names that had been bandied around earlier this year as a possible candidate for the vacant head coaching job of the Senior Men's National Team, is taking his talents to England. This could be a turning point for the Senior Men's, and overall, National Program. Can Ball Ray takes a look at what this move by Smart could mean to a team that is in need of coach and some dire success ...

Dave Smart is the head coach of Great Britain's U20 team.

I'm sure you have heard that already and if you check in with us regularly, I posted about it on Monday (a full two days before the other media guys, FYI) and all I could think was ... oh crap.

Now this is not an indictment on Smart as a coach because his track record at Carleton should be enough to show that he's a damn good one. The thought, the " Oh crap" thought was about something more.

Now professionally speaking, this move by Smart to coach a burgeoning British basketball team in what could be at least one world competition in the next few months is a very big step. He was commissioned by a foreign basketball body to coach one of their teams. That is a step up for sure.

The "oh crap" moment comes when you think about both the immediate and long term effects that this could have on the National Program.

As we all know, the Senior Men's basketball team didn't qualify for the Olympic qualifying tournament after having a less than spectacular finish. That finish led to head coach Leo Rautins stepping down from his post and the spot is currently vacant. Dave Smart was rumored to be among the frontrunners for that post. But now that he's committed to the British program, any type of ideas of getting him involved with the Senior program, or any program for that matter, are out of the question. That's the immediate issue.

The more important issue is that depending on the length of commitment. The details are still unclear as to his exact contract outside of the position being limited to summer duty, so far, and if there is anything longer than this summer then the National Program could be losing out big time.

Even though the Senior Men's program will be missing everything Olympic related in 2012, next summer will be the first step to redemption with it being a prep year for the 2014 World Championships. If Smart is a candidate to fill the head coaching vacancy on the Senior Men's team, any commitment past this summer will definitely hinder that process, if not stop it dead.

Now Smart has been involved in the National Program in the past. He's been an assistant coach with the Senior Men and he was the head coach of last summer's Pan Am Games team. He's no stranger to the inner workings of Canada Basketball or the systems in place. If anything, these are things that would make him more attractive as an ideal candidate. But this latest situation with Smart, heading across the Atlantic to take over the reigns of a program that hasn't had any significant international, success that will throw a ratchet in any plans.

Unfortunately for Canada Basketball the lack of any pressing need to fill the head coaching spot hasn't helped the situation at all. The grapevine had been indicating an announcement on a possible coaching candidate as early as May as early as this December. And with Smart going the way he did, I'm sure that the candidate balls have been thrown back into the hopper and is should make this decision much more interesting.

What we are losing in Smart is a coach that knows success, knows how to get there and has been a consistent winner. He's a taskmaster for sure with very strict attention to detail and to be honest this would be a breath of fresh air to the Senior Men's program right now.

But I think the most important thing we lose with this move by Smart is the credibility that he brings. Leo wasn't the best coach, and I'm not the only one that thinks that I'm sure, but he was wise enough to surround himself with enough knowledge and experience to help offset what he didn't know. In Smart, he's been through the paces of building a winning program and then maintaining a winning tradition. He would have that respect from everyone off the bat, player and fan alike, and the success would be a matter of work and commitment.

Regardless of what happens, I wish the best of luck to Coach Smart over in Merry ‘Ol England. I'm sure he'll be able to make a lot of what he's dealt talent-wise. I'm just sorry that he won't be involved in the National Program, at least for the foreseeable future anyway.

And I utter the same words that got me thinking about this before - oh crap.