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NBA Toronto Raptors DeAndre Daniels

DeAndre Daniels Battled Back From Injury The With The Raptors 905

The Toronto Raptors unsigned second round draft pick DeAndre Daniels (pictured above with Raptors 905 announcer Meghan McPeak) has been out of sight and mostly out of mind since heading over to Perth Australia in the fall of 2014 and when a Jones fracture of his right foot caused him to miss NBA Summer League last July, this NCAA Tournament Champion fell completely off the radar. However, he’s battled back to play in the last few NBA D-League games of the Mississauga Raptors 905 season and he plans to play with the Raptors this summer.

DeAndre Daniels interview:

 

The Raptors drafted Daniels 37th overall after the forward had played some of the best basketball of his college career in leading UConn to a National Championship. However, the team really didn’t have an open roster spot for a developing young forward with their very raw first round pick Bruno Caboclo on board.

So it was off to Australia where he missed the preseason with an elbow injury, but playing in Perth was good for Daniels. The 6’8 forward needed to transition his game to the small forward spot and his new team was very accommodating.

“It was for me to develop my game and just grow up and mature,” Daniels told Pro Bball Report. “I got to play the three the whole time. They wanted me to go out there and play the three and learn the position and it went pretty well.

“Focus on everything overall, guarding the three, guarding smaller guys, mainly stuff with defense. Reading defenses, coming off screens.”

The foot injury occurred after Daniels returned to North America and was a huge setback costing him nearly the entire season this year.

“I’ve been off for like seven months now,” Daniels said. “I’ve played like four or five games and they’ve helped me a lot. Just to get up and down and get in the rhythm of playing in a game. It felt good to be back out there.

“I’m not quite 100 percent yet. I just have to get my whole leg back stronger. It’s kind of weak. Just work on my leg and get ready for Summer League.”

Even though he was a second round pick, expectations were pretty high for Daniels coming out of college. The NBA is looking for stretch-forwards and Daniels was shooting 41.7 percent from three-point range in his final college season.

“Everyone is going to look and see if I can shoot the ball, but mainly I am just focused on defense, locking my guy down and rebounding the basketball,” Daniels said. “Worry about the rest later, it will come. That’s what I do, I’m a shooter.

“Good times are definitely going to come for sure.”

It’s been a painful couple of years since Daniels was drafted. An elbow in Perth and the foot last summer, but the 24-year-old has used the time he’s had to work on the things he has needed to improve on. It will be very interesting to get a read on his progress during the NBA Summer League in July.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


NBA Toronto Raptors Norman Powell

Raptors Rookie Norman Powell From Slasher To 3-Point Shooter

The Toronto Raptors got a big surprise when their 2015 second round draft pick Norman Powell showed up with a three-point shot at NBA Summer League and they were even more surprised when he just kept shooting well through his workouts over the rest of the summer. The UCLA Bruins senior guard was known as a solid defender and slasher with a less than reliable jump shot.

“I saw (Powell could shoot) in the summertime,” Raptors 905 head coach Jesse Mermuys said. “One, he made a ton of shots in Summer League. He was knocking it down. Into our workouts after Summer League in L.A. and in the Clippers facility workouts, he was making a ton of shots and that was my message coming back out of the summer. I said look, for a guy that can’t shoot, this guy is making a lot of shots. It’s getting to the point where this isn’t, it can’t be just he’s hot. He’s shooting the ball really well. So, I felt really confident about his shooting ability coming out of the summer.”

Norman Powell interview:

 

Powell was a player who progressed steadily through his four college seasons to become a leader with the Bruins as a senior and while he was taking three-point shots with some regularity from the beginning, he wasn’t hitting that many until his final year.

As a college senior Powell started the season hot, hitting 39.6 percent of his three-point attempts in November and December, but things went back to normal in the new year as his long range shooting plummeted back to 25.7 percent over the final three months of the season. His scoring actually increased as he took more two-point attempts and hit them at a higher rate, but the jump shot was gone and the slasher image was solidified.

This didn’t stop the Raptors from doing the draft day trade with the Bucks to land Powell and a 2017 first round draft pick from the Bucks for Greivis Vasquez. As Raptors head coach Dwane Casey continues to say to this day, Powell’s three-point shooting is gravy. Casey wanted Powell for his defense.

However, there was a really good reason why Powell’s jump shot vanished. It dramatically affected his draft stock, but right about now the Raptors are pretty happy about Powell’s mid-season college blunder.

“All throughout college I worked a lot on my shot,” Powell told Pro Bball Report. “I felt comfortable shooting a the beginning of (my senior) year and I kind of like tweaked with my shot before Christmas break and was trying to work with a different shooting coach because the one I normally worked with was overseas in Japan.

“Tweaking with your shot in the middle of the season is probably not the best idea, especially when you can only get like four workouts in when you are working on the new mechanics you are putting in on your shot. I picked the wrong time to do it.”

After the college season ended, Powell got back to work on his shot and by the time NBA Summer League started, he was good to go.

“It was just staying consistent with one thing,” Powell explained. “Not trying to change it, doing what feels comfortable. I found that and just continued to work on it. (I) continued to get more comfortable and consistent with it, put in more and more reps not changing anything, focusing on the little mechanic parts and it worked out well for me.”

Like most NBA rookies, not everything went exactly as planned for Powell when he arrived in the NBA. Coach Casey still liked his defense and gave his second round pick significantly more minutes and more chances than his fellow rookie Delon Wright or sophomores Bruno Caboclo or Lucas Nogueira, but it was his defense that kept him on the court. His offense was still suspect and NBA minutes were hard to justify, so Powell got to work on his game with the Raptors 905.

Powell didn’t spend long with Coach Mermuys in Mississauga, but the D-league experience helped him and he really tore things up at that level.

“If it weren’t for what we are doing down here (in the D-League), (Powell) probably wouldn’t be as comfortable being plugged in and (starting with the Raptors),” Raptors 905 general manager Dan Tolzman said. “Without question, this helped him.”

“Specially with Norman, I thought he learned to be aggressive, but not be – selfish isn’t the word – not be tunnel vision of one a one trick pony guy and that I think has really carried over to the big club,” Mermuys said.

The more Powell has played in the NBA, the better he’s looked and Casey has even begun trusting his rookie to play crunch-time minutes in meaningful games as the season has progressed. These haven’t just been gifts or to give Powell the experience either, he’s earned those minutes. He’s figured some things out as the year has progressed.

“It was just calming myself down,” Powell said. “A couple of times when I did get thrown in there and I wasn’t shooting the ball well, I had a lot of adrenaline. I was just figuring out how to relax my nerves and ease my way into the game.

“Right before All-Star I went 4-6 in Minnesota and that’s when it started to click, started to be able to recreate that feeling, recreate that feel on my jumper in games. Calm myself down and focus on the little things that just make it more natural and after that things started to flow and I really started to find my grove in the offense.”

“It’s different when you are making them in an NBA game and I do believe his time in the D-League really helped him,” Mermuys said. “It got that summer feel back of making shots, that I can do this. I know I can do it and then he just needed a couple to go in up there and now it’s a confidence thing and he looks really good shooting it (in the NBA.)”

Powell has played in 46 games for the Raptors this year with 21 starts. He’s started every game since the middle of March and hasn’t looked at all out of place in the starting line-up.

Over his last 14 games, he’s averaged 28.2 minutes, 11.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists, plus he’s playing tenacious defense and firing on all cylinders on offense, shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three-point range. Powell doesn’t often look like a rookie anymore – on defense, on offense and especially when firing that corner three-ball.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


NBA Toronto Raptors 905 Bruno Caboclo

Raptors Bruno Caboclo Still Only Looks Like Kevin Durant

The Toronto Raptors wasted no time in assigning sophomore Bruno Caboclo to the Raptors 905 NBA D-League team this season, after all, that was the plan they had hoped to follow last year if they could have acquired a D-League affiliate a little quicker. Caboclo might look like another Kevin Durant off the court and in practice sessions, but his lack of professional experience means this 20-year-old forward still has a long ways to go before being NBA-ready.

Raptors 905 head coach Jesse Mermuys on Bruno Caboclo:

 

“You have that length and talent and you look like Kevin Durant, but you just haven’t had that same reps, that same coaching and the same anything growing up,” Raptors 905 head coach Jesse Mermuys told Pro Bball Report in this exclusive one-on-one behind the scenes interview. “(Caboclo) needs playing experience, he needs minutes and he needs us as a coaching staff to help him every single day and be able to live with some mistakes and growing pains and I thought we’ve done that so far and as long as he just trusts us and is patient with the process.

“Everybody just needs to slow down and just let this thing happen and when he’s ready, if he does it the right way and doesn’t try and rush it, he’ll be ready.”

Caboclo has enjoyed some good outings with the 905 and some equally terrible appearances as he has averaged 14.3 points on 38.1 percent shooting from the field and 29.5 percent shooting from three-point range in 32.3 minutes through 16 games. His defense has been ahead of his offense in most games as he’s averaged 5.4 rebounds, a steal and 1.7 blocked shots. There is no disguising the potential of all that natural length and bounce.

 

 

The 905 has been good for Caboclo. He looks a lot happier than he did after last year’s disastrous experience with the independent D-League Mad Ants as the 905 coaching staff ensures he gets his minutes and his touches pretty much no matter what happens during individual games. After a full season in the NBA D-League playing significant minutes, just maybe Caboclo will have caught up enough to look like a productive NBA rookie next season.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 Ashton Smith

Canadian Ashton Smith From DII College To The Raptors 905

Canadian guard Ashton Smith was a star in division two college hoops and that isn’t the usual path to the professional ranks, but Smith has managed to keep his pro hopes alive since graduating from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2012. This season he landed a job as a 26-year-old veteran guard with the very young expansion Mississauga Raptors 905 of the NBA D-League.

Smith discusses his path to the Raptors 905 in this Pro Bball Report exclusive,

 

“I went to IUP, Indiana of Pennsylvania,” Smith confirmed. “It’s a DII. We had a pretty good program. I won 104 games over there. I was conference player of the year. I was All-American. I broke the assist record. I had a pretty good college career.

“I tried overseas for a year (after college). It didn’t really work out the way I wanted it too and I had an opportunity to play in the NBL Canadian League and I thought it would be a good idea to be closer to home.

“I came back home and was able to play in front of my friends, my family.

“Just the passion for the game. Just playing and knowing if you play well or continue to grow you will be able to get opportunities like this (in the NBA D-League).

“It’s a lot different (now). This is high level obviously. It’s like the NBA. A lot of the stuff like the coaching, just the tutelage and watching film and the training is a lot different. It’s a lot more everyday, everyday grind and the guys are a lot more athletic, a lot more talented.

“I think I am getting better everyday. Coach Jesse and the coaches working with me and just playing around and being with better guys in practice everyday is making me better.

“I love it (here). The Raptors are a big deal right now and we are a big deal right now. We have Bruno (Caboclo) and Delon (Wright) down here, so that brings a lot of excitement. That brings the level of competition up in practice. That helps me, helps everybody get better when those guys come down and play.”

Smith has got into six games with the Mississauga Raptors 905 so far this season and the excitement Wright or Raptors guard Norman Powell bring to the games and practices also means Smith isn’t going to play. Still this a huge step up for Smith from the NBL. It has to be genuinely exciting for a DII college player from Scarborough to be this close to the NBA.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross

Terrence Ross Is Ready To Bring More To The Raptors This Year

The Raptors Terrence Ross had a disappointing third NBA season in Toronto. After being called one of his team’s best defensive players in a strong sophomore campaign by his head coach, Ross kind of disappeared the next year. It was only after the fact that everyone learned what had been holding him back.

Terrrence Ross interview:

 

 

“Last year during the season probably midway through I always used to roll my ankle at practice, I used to roll my ankle during games (and) I would always play through it,” Ross told Pro Bball Report. “At the end of the season they just wanted me to get x-rays and I had three or four bone spurs that I had to get out, so they said that would probably be a good idea.”

Ross came back from surgery very quickly and was seen working out at the Air Canada Centre during the team’s pre-draft workouts in June. It was a minor procedure that didn’t really hold Ross back from training during the summer.

“I felt good,” Ross said. “They just wanted to take it slow so I didn’t hurt myself. For the most part I was back fine.”

In part because of his ankle problems, Ross was reduced to a three-point shooter for much of last year and he was good at it, taking almost five per game and hitting on 37.2 percent of them, but this year he needs to do more. As a second unit guy he needs to make more of an impact more quickly and in a greater number of ways.

“I think kind of what Lou (Williams) did last year for the second squad,” Ross said. “For me, more of a coming off down screens and spotting up, always on the move and taking the three that’s something they want me to do this year.

“(Go) inside and be a little more versatile and switch everything up, a couple more moves to get separation for shots. A lot of running on the down screen. I just run all over the court and get into condition to do it during the season.”

Head Coach Dwane Casey expects Ross to get back on track and, not surprisingly, is looking for Ross to up his defensively game almost immediately. Plus a team can never have enough shooting.

Dwane Casey at media day“(Ross) can guard guys at his position,” Casey insisted. “Offensively we can take advantage of a lot of his strengths. We are not going to have a guy coming in doing isos and one-on-ones and stuff like that, but he can space the floor with the second unit. Definitely there are going to be situations he is going to be in where we do go small. Terrence is an excellent piece for both units in certain situations defensively and definitely certain situations stretching the floor.”

One of the things that will help Ross this season is the addition of some solid veterans he can learn from. DeMarre Carroll is taking Ross’ spot in the starting lineup, but Carroll is a player that had to work hard in order to get into this position and Ross can learn a lot from him. Scola is another veteran who has built his reputation on hard work and doing things the right way. Ross has some great examples to look to.

“It’s nice, a lot of guys that have been to the playoffs, been to the finals, won championships, there is a lot of experience on the team now,” Ross explained. “(Scola’s) I.Q., his knowledge of the game, his experience, it rubs off on everybody and helps everybody kind of mature faster. It helps everybody up their game that much more.”

In many ways Ross sounds a lot like he did at the start of last season, optimistic and upbeat. However, he is in a better situation, has more support and will not be under as much pressure to perform. Ross should have a strong year. He should be bringing a lot more to the Raptors than what might be reasonably expected from last season.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Norman Powell & Delon Wright

Raptors Rookie Delon Wright Knows A Good Thing When He Sees It

The Raptors took a pair of college seniors in this year’s draft in part because they should be more NBA ready. However, as impressive as Delon Wright and Norman Powell were in Summer League and hopefully will continue to show progress during preseason, there is really no way for any rookie to really know what he has gotten himself into at the NBA level until he plays in some real games.

 

Delon Wright interview:

 

“I don’t honestly,” Wright told Pro Bball Report. “I am just trying to learn as much as possible. I don’t know what I am getting into, but I know it’s a good thing.”

Both of these players have shown the right kind of attitude and effort that confirms the Raptors drafted well. However, even with the advantage of having a brother (Dorell Wright) in the NBA and playing four years in college, there’s a huge difference between being told about the league, playing with pros in the summer and actually being on the big stage yourself. Things happen fast now. This isn’t like college and Wright knows it.

“Where college is more of a month long process, this is a one week process and the season is here,” Wright said. “You got to be more prepared.

“Overall with the younger guys they taught us the defensive schemes, how to play the pick and roll, little things like that. They didn’t pinpoint one thing, there was a lot of things to expect.”

All rookies lack experience, but Toronto has someone who has been here before and had to fight for playing time. Cory Joseph didn’t have anything handed to him in San Antonio and spent much of his first two NBA seasons on the bench or in the D-League before making a significant impact on a veteran-laden team in years three and four.

“We’ve talked,” Wright said. “We’ve been around each other for about two weeks now.

“If I have question. If he sees something. He can show me the way. Besides that, I think experience will be the best helper.”

Both Wright and Powell know where they sit on the Raptors depth chart and bearing a number of injuries to the regular rotation players, minutes after preseason are more likely to be found in Mississauga with the Raptors 905 than at the Air Canada Centre. Until then, these Raptors rookies should be a lot of fun to watch.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Delon Wright 55 web 2Raptors Rookie Delon Wright Is NBA Ready Now

“He is a little older than your normal 19 or 20-year-old coming in today, but that’s good,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s a kid that’s been around the NBA, knows the NBA, talked about the NBA with his brother.”

 

 

Norman PowellRaptors Athletic Scorer And Defender Norman Powell

“My toughness and defense, that’s something that translates to the NBA really well and my athleticism, I am able to get up into guys and create on the break and finish at the rim and at the free throw line. Athleticism and defense are things you can go on from day one and compete.

 

 

 

Ujiri basketball web

Masai Ujiri Calls In From Africa To Talk Hoops (Audio)

Toronto Raptors President and General Manager called in from South Africa to discuss what he has been up to and talk a bit about Bismack Biyombo.

 

Masai Ujiri 7-30-2015
 

 

 

 

Team Canada Practice

Steve Nash Is Having Fun Helping Team Canada

Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team General Manager Steve Nash could be seen having a lot of fun hanging out and playing basketball over the three days of practice at the Air Canada Centre. The 18-year NBA veteran was working up a big sweat as he took his young players through drills on the court looking more like the point guard who will playing in the NBA soon instead of a manager or even an assistant coach.
 

Steve Nash audio:


 

Steve Nash & Stephen Brotherston by MoVernie 7-20-2014 cropped“I am just trying to help,” Nash said. “Teach whatever I can after a long career and be a part of their development. The funest part for me is to work with the guys and try to help them with anything they want to try and improve on.”

There are not many general managers out there who can still play pro basketball, so Nash brings a unique perspective to his job and how he sees himself in this role. Nash hasn’t been shy about jumping on the court and using the respect he has built up with Team Canada and in the NBA to get involved with teaching.

“I am not really a coach, but not many guys are getting instructed by guys that are still playing, so it is a little bit different,” Nash said. “After 18-years in the league and still playing I am able to obviously still do some things on the court that I can share with the guys and it’s fun for me and they seem to enjoy it. It is just kind of the cool dynamic of being a general manager while you are still playing.”

It’s obviously fun for Nash. He jumps right into a drill and takes over, showing the players what he wants them to do and perhaps more importantly, how to do it and as Nash has stated, it’s fun.

“Their careers are an incredible source of pride for me,” Nash said. “So to watch them develop and grow and play is huge and to be able to help them a little bit and be a mentor or a sounding board is exciting.”

“They are like a family. They don’t ask for autographs or anything. I’m starting to ask them for autographs.”

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

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Steve Nash Excited To Mentor Team Canada This Summer
“We have a very young team, so guys that have been in the NBA for two or three years, those are veterans on this team,” Nash said. “We are going to have to become a team that really comes together, has a great bond and leads together and pushes each other to get better and demands a lot of each other, but at the same time supports one another. We have to build a winning culture here and this is a new project.”

Steve Nash scrum

Canada Missing Wiggins, Stauskas, Ennis, Bennett, Thompson

As Team Canada prepares to head overseas for a series of 11 exhibition games against the top National basketball teams in Europe, they will be missing many of the current and future star players who will be needed next summer in order to win a trip to the 2016 Olympics.

For various reasons Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson, Joel Anthony, Andrew Wiggins, Nik Stauskas and Tyler Ennis will not be playing for the Senior Men’s National Team this time around.

Steve Nash audio:

 

General Manager Steve Nash explained the challenge of getting players to come and represent Canada.

“The guys all really want to be a part of the program, but for various reasons it’s hard to get everybody here at the same time,” Nash said. “Maybe next summer when the Olympics are on the line we can get everybody together, but we are talking about so many dynamics – schedules, bodies, what their clubs want, what their teams feel is best for them at this time in their career. Especially in the summer when there is no competition, it is a hard sell to some of their teams, but the guys – even the guys that aren’t on the trip – AB (Anthony Bennett), Tyler (Ennis) came by today. Tristan (Thompson) was here last night. Guys want to be a part of it. I think they realize that this is their program to own and Country to play for and I think we are going to have a great turnout next summer when it really matters and we have enough guys here this summer for it to make a difference.

“Especially with all the U.S. guys going (next summer), teams are going to have a hard time. (They) can’t say no to their superstar going to Team USA, so it is going to be harder to say we don’t want you to play for Canada. The teams get it. It is a great opportunity for everyone and I think we’ll have a chance for our guys to come out next summer.

“Sometimes you have to enter into constant negotiations with all these factors – players, family, agents, clubs, schedules, commitments and obligations, so it’s a moving target at all times and at the best of times.

“I knew when taking the job, the hardest thing would be getting the guys to play.”

Team Canada isn’t devoid of NBA players and future stars this summer. NBAers Cory Joseph, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Olynyk and Robert Sacre are on the roster and help to emphasize just how deep this team will be in future years. Melvin Ejim, Dwight Powell, Jordan Bachynski might be in the NBA next season or in future years and tie nicely into Head Coach Jay Triano’s assertion that playing for one’s National team against top European talent could help players Team Canada is hoping to develop land professional basketball jobs and better contracts for the upcoming and future seasons.

“If it opens up opportunities for our players to keep playing and become employed as basketball players then it’s a great trip,” Triano said.

Returnees from prior National Team rosters and the team’s current pool of players includes Brady Heslip, Jordan Baker, Junior Cadougan, Owen Klassen, Philip Scrubb, Thomas Scrubb, Jevohn Shepherd and Carl English. The international experience of Shepherd and English will help this summer’s squad immensely and Heslip was surprisingly effective at the FIBA Americas last summer.

It should be apparent that the day is coming when Team Canada will have to cut a player on a current NBA roster and there will be key contributors from this year’s team during next summer’s push for a spot at the Olympics.

“Whatever little bit we get is huge,” Nash said. “Who knows what the actual transference or what the games will be from this tour, but without it you are playing with fire. With it, we have a chance for some core guys to get some invaluable experience and could win us a game or two next summer. Next summer is going to be an incredibly tall task. We got a lot of talent. We got a young team that doesn’t have international experience, doesn’t have experience together, nor experience playing for Jay (Triano) a considerable amount. We are overcoming a lot. Our talent level could help us overcome that, but the chemistry, the culture, the experiences we gain this summer are going to be pivotal for next summer.”

Team Canada will badly miss the experience of Thompson and Anthony plus Bennett, Wiggins, Stauskas and Ennis would have benefitted greatly from playing during this year’s European tour. However, the players who are not going this time are committed to the program and they should be there when the games count next summer. This is their program to own, their Country to represent and will soon be their opportunity to prove just how good they really are to the rest of the world.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

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Team Canada To Platoon Players On European Tour
“That’s a good question. It is almost like you are in our coaches meeting,” Triano said. “The big thing that we did last year when we went to China and Russia with the student team is we platooned, we put five minutes on and five off and we may look at something like that to start this tour.”  (Full Team Canada schedule of games shown)

Team Canada Cory Joseph

Cory Joseph Brings Leadership To A Young Team Canada

Canada’s Senior Mens National Team (SMNT) is young, so young in fact that General Manager Steve Nash says, “Guys that have been in the NBA for two or three years, those are veterans on this team.” Cory Joseph is one of those veterans and Team Canada is looking to him for leadership as they head out on an 11 game exhibition series in Europe that starts on Thursday in Slovenia.

Last summer Joseph was a key player for Canada at the FIBA Americas tournament and he showed his potential to takeover games at this level by leading Canada past Brazil in the preliminary round scoring 20 points in a blowout victory.

Joseph has played for the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs over the past three seasons which makes him one of the more experienced players on this summer’s roster.

Cory Joseph audio:

 

“Definitely try to translate what we did in San Antonio over here,” Joseph said. “Definitely try to bring that same hard work.

“I have learned a lot over my three years at San Antonio. I made great strides in bettering my game and just being professional. They are complete professionals. They take care of their bodies. I’ve learned about that a lot this year, just taking of my body, preparing myself for the game.”

As a point guard and one of the more experienced players, Joseph will be carrying a heavy leadership burden that was not expected of him in San Antonio. However, he feels ready for the role and those games last summer at the FIBA Americas will help a lot.

“I definitely put a lot on my shoulders as a point guard and as a leader,” Joseph said. “I have to lead this team. I feel that I can be that extension of the coach on the court and I am just trying to lead this team to get Ws.

“I am comfortable in the role. I have been doing it all my life in other programs.”

It’s likely that one of the reasons Joseph doesn’t feel as uncomfortable with the international game as other NBA players is how the Spurs like to play and the makeup of that team. The Spurs have a strong international cast of players and ball movement designed to breakdown zone defenses that is second nature.

“(FIBA) is a different style of game, but Spurs kind of play an international style of the game, so not much difference for us,” Joseph explained. “I can’t really explain it, but it’s different. They can just pack in the paint, there is no three-second defensive call, so you have to learn how to attack in different ways. You have to learn how to move the ball and get them on their feet and still be able to get into the paint.”

This summer is all about gaining experience for Team Canada after falling short a year ago and failing to qualify for the World Cup in Spain. Instead of tournament play, the Canadians will have to develop their players over a series of exhibition games that other teams are using as a tune-up for the tournament that starts at the end of August.

“We know that we have a lot of talent, but we haven’t done anything yet, so have to be able to put it together,” Joseph said. “Last year we went down there and didn’t do as well as we wanted to, so we kind of got set back and now we have to get serious. We have to qualify for the Olympics and do well because that is what everybody is expecting of us and that is what we are expecting of us.”

To qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, the SMNT will have to win a spot at a qualifying tournament next summer, so there is a lot of basketball yet to be played by this pool of players selected to represent Canada. However, as Joseph points out, don’t worry, we’re young.

“I’m 22-years-old, you make me sound old,” Joseph said. “I’m a young guy. I’m in good shape. I take care of my body – make sure I sleep well, eat well and I’ll be fine. I’m young.”

It seems like all of Team Canada is young and maybe that is what it will take to fight their way into a spot at the 2016 Olympics.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
 
 

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Steve Nash Excited To Mentor Team Canada This Summer
“We have a very young team, so guys that have been in the NBA for two or three years, those are veterans on this team,” Nash said. “We are going to have to become a team that really comes together, has a great bond and leads together and pushes each other to get better and demands a lot of each other, but at the same time supports one another. We have to build a winning culture here and this is a new project.”
 
 

Head Coach Jay Triano close up

Team Canada Is Getting Canadian Players And Coaches Jobs

Playing for Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team can do more for a young Canadian basketball player than just boost his national pride, there are professional jobs to be won as a result of playing for one’s Country. The European tour that Team Canada is about to embark on is a showcase of Canadian talent right in the backyard of some of the best professional basketball leagues outside the U.S. and in the past, Canadians have landed good jobs and better contracts as a result.

Team Canada has a number of players that are on the fringe of making an NBA team, but their game could be even better suited to FIBA rules and there is a very good living to be made playing professional basketball in Europe.

Jay Triano audio:

 

Head Coach Jay Triano talked about some of the players on his team who could be successful overseas.

“I think Melvin Ejim who will be coming in when his team finally loses in Vegas and he can get back here, he played last summer for us and we looked at him and we think that he’s got the body – almost an undersized four with great energy and ability to rebound – so, I think those are the types of players that a lot of European teams really like,” Triano said. “He has a real nose for the ball, but he can step out a little bit as a four man and that is just one guy. Dwight Powell has a chance to make the NBA, but he would be a very good European player if that doesn’t work out for him. Jordan Baker, there’s a guy who played in the C.I.S. (University of Alberta) at Edmonton, but he’s got the big thick body and he’s a bruiser and sometimes (the European) game gets a little more physical so there are a variety of players that can play and hopefully we can show off some of those guys while we are on that (11 game European) tour and get them employed and help them.

“Our big thing is to help these players because if we help them become better basketball players, they can come back and help us become a better basketball nation.

“It’s happened in the past. I think back to the 2000 Olympics and guys that played in the Olympics got jobs because of how well we did in the Olympics and they got better contracts.”

“(The players) get to be seen. They get the experience of playing the international game and the scouts do not have to travel here to find them. This summer, we are going into (the European teams) backyard. If it opens up opportunities for our players to keep playing and become employed as basketball players then it’s a great trip.

Canadian coaches are also benefiting from the visibility and improvement of Team Canada. Triano believes Canada’s success at developing home grown talent will produce job opportunities for Canadian coaches as well.

“Why is Canada all of a sudden developing all of these good players?” Triano said. “I think eventually it will look to the coaches. We got great coaches in this Country as well who are helping develop these players.”

The new era of Canadian basketball includes players destined for the NBA and professional teams around the world and as these players get noticed, the coaches that helped develop them will garner more attention as well. A successful Team Canada program will help land basketball jobs for a lot of Canadians.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

Check out:

Steve Nash Excited To Mentor Team Canada This Summer
“We have a very young team, so guys that have been in the NBA for two or three years, those are veterans on this team,” Nash said. “We are going to have to become a team that really comes together, has a great bond and leads together and pushes each other to get better and demands a lot of each other, but at the same time supports one another. We have to build a winning culture here and this is a new project.”

Team Canada To Platoon Players On European Tour
“That’s a good question. It is almost like you are in our coaches meeting,” Triano said. “The big thing that we did last year when we went to China and Russia with the student team is we platooned, we put five minutes on and five off and we may look at something like that to start this tour.”
(The full Team Canada schedule of games shown)

 

Jay Triano scrum close up 2

Team Canada To Platoon Players On European Tour

Team Canada is enjoying an overabundance of young exceptional talent for the first time in its history and this presents a challenge for Head Coach Jay Triano and his staff. Most of the roster expected to compete next summer at the FIBA Americas tournament to fight for a coveted spot at the Olympics has little or no high level international experience and this summer’s European exhibition tour is tightly packed. Triano needs to find out what he has, the players all need experience and the organization doesn’t want to overtax their team. It comes down to creating some interesting strategies in order to accomplish all of Team Canada’s goals.

Jay Triano audio:

 

“That’s a good question. It is almost like you are in our coaches meeting,” Triano said. “The big thing that we did last year when we went to China and Russia with the student team is we platooned, we put five minutes on and five off and we may look at something like that to start this tour. Then everybody plays 20 minutes a game and nobody gets taxed with the number of games that we have. We have 11 games in a real short period of time. I believe we have six games in six days (August 1 – 6) in three different countries at one point which is going to be very very tough, so we don’t want to tax these players. We want them to get a feel for the international game without wearing them down. We will manage minutes and probably platoon a little bit to start, find out which five (guys) can play together well and that will help us in the future as well as (help us) coaches.”

Platooning or using a structured method of splitting up the minutes can be an effective strategy to ensure everyone on the roster this summer gets a reasonable amount of minutes and will help to prevent individual players from wearing down on that back-to-back-to-back-to- back-to-back-to-back stretch of games in August. This summer really is all about the experience of playing top teams on the road with the pressure of travel so these young Canadian players will be better prepared next summer when the games matter.

“That’s what this summer is about,” Triano said. “This is a great summer. I know last summer we were a little bit disappointed that we didn’t qualify for the World Championships (in Spain later this summer), but at the same time we knew we had 22 and 23 year old players as our best players on the floor and we needed to get them that international experience and that is what this summer is about. We are going to be playing 11 games. We are going to be playing six teams on their home soil and that is going to be great experience for these young players. We need to go over to Europe and see what the international game is. Get them experience playing for me, get them experience playing the international game and then return to their NBA teams or their club teams and continue to improve. We are still very very infant in who we are as a basketball nation, but that is going to change over the next 2, 4, 6, 8 years.”

Team Canada Schedule:

In Slovenia:
Thursday July 24 vs Slovenia
Friday July 25 vs Ukraine
Saturday July 26 vs Georgia

In Croatia:
Friday August 1 vs Croatia
Saturday August 2 vs Croatia

In Italy:
Sunday August 3 vs Serbia
Monday August 4 vs Italy
Tuesday August 5 vs Bosnia

In Spain:
Wednesday August 6 vs Spain
Sunday August 10 vs Turkey
Tuesday August 12 vs Angola

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

Check out:

Steve Nash Excited To Mentor Team Canada This Summer
“We have a very young team, so guys that have been in the NBA for two or three years, those are veterans on this team,” Nash said. “We are going to have to become a team that really comes together, has a great bond and leads together and pushes each other to get better and demands a lot of each other, but at the same time supports one another. We have to build a winning culture here and this is a new project.”

 

Nash with Team Canada Officials

Steve Nash Excited To Mentor Team Canada This Summer

The Canadian Senior Men’s National Basketball Team kicked off their summer program at the Air Canada Center on Sunday as they prepare for a jam packed four weeks of practices and games against top teams in Europe. After three days of practice in Toronto, Team Canada will arrive in Venice on Wednesday to begin a tour of friendly exhibition games against Slovenia, Ukraine, Georgia, Croatia, Serbia, Italy, Bosnia, Spain, Turkey and Angola before returning to Toronto on August 13. Now that Canada has a roster loaded with exciting young recognizable talent, getting exhibition games against top European teams isn’t a problem.

General Manager Steve Nash brings his wealth of international and NBA experience at the highest levels to this very young team and the 40-year-old Los Angeles Lakers point guard knows what it’s like to mentor young players.
 

Steve Nash audio:

 

Steve Nash closeup
 

“The whole reason or the primary reason we are here is to get these guys experience before next summer,” Nash said. “It’s a very young team, a team that has very little international experience. A lot of our players that could have big roles with this team haven’t even played at the highest levels internationally. The rules, the refereeing, the competition is completely different and they haven’t played together and that’s huge, so while we have a tremendous talent pool it’s a very difficult task to qualify for the Olympics. Conceivably there is one or two spots in the (FIBA) Americas to win, that could be an incredibly difficult task and our guys need a little experience, someone to give them a chance.”

For Nash and company, the games this summer don’t count for anything. Team Canada is playing strictly for the experience and winning games is well down on the list of priorities for now, but this tour is at a level of competition that even gets Nash excited.

“It is all about the experience,” Nash confirmed. “Obviously you try to win every game, but we are also going to play guys probably a lot of equal minutes, give everyone a lot of experience, try to understand what (Head Coach) Jay (Triano) is asking at both ends of the floor and learn (about) each other and gain experience at the international level. This is about as good a tour as you could possibly imagine, playing in great cities against great teams against top flight competition, so it’s an awesome tour for these guys to get a lot of experience and see the benchmark of top level international basketball.”

Team is so young that the 22-year-old Cory Joseph is considered to be one of the veterans, both in terms of international play and NBA experience. Some very young players are expected to do a lot for Canada very quickly.

“We have a very young team, so guys that have been in the NBA for two or three years, those are veterans on this team,” Nash said. “We are going to have to become a team that really comes together, has a great bond and leads together and pushes each other to get better and demands a lot of each other, but at the same time supports one another. We have to build a winning culture here and this is a new project. Every year new guys are coming in because of their ascent and it’s exciting because we have so much talent, but it not easy. These guys are all coming from very young perspectives trying to figure out where they are going with their career and their game, what team and club they are going to, what level they are going to play at whether it’s the NBA or Europe and some of these guys are still in college. That makes it trying in a lot of different ways, it makes the task more difficult, but this is just the start of a project that hopefully lasts decades.”

So all that development Team Canada is about to be going through means Nash and Triano will be doing a lot of teaching and more importantly, overall mentoring. A team full of young players means there will be issues to deal with beyond merely learning the next play and Nash is comfortable that he has been filling that role for years now.

“It’s natural and I think I’ve been a mentor for about 18 years now,” Nash said. “I’m 40 and I’ve been a veteran in the NBA for a long time, so I’ve had a lot of young players play on my teams or under me and I’ll always be there to try to share and help and give back.”

A new era for Canada Basketball is starting and the talent Nash and company has assembled is impressive enough to earn them a tour against the top National Teams in Europe as those teams prepare for the World Cup in Spain. However, it’s too early – or maybe premature – to set expectations in terms of wins and losses this summer as this tour is mostly for the experience. Team Canada is setting their sights on the FIBA Americas tournament next summer and trying to qualify for the Olympics. Nash and Triano have a lot of mentoring to do over the next four weeks and they are beyond excited about it.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.