imported_n/a1394647443 Posted April 28, 2005 Share Posted April 28, 2005 Building relationships Young players a priority for Rautins By ADAM WAZNY -- Winnipeg Sun http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Basketball/News/2005/04/28/1016676.html The numbers are there, it's just a matter of making them count. That's the message from Leo Rautins, the longtime NBA broadcaster with the Toronto Raptors who is now the head coach of the Canadian men's basketball team. Rautins was in Winnipeg yesterday to look at some local players, chat with a few coaches, and generate a buzz about basketball -- specifically the Canadian variety. "We have over 100 guys playing pro overseas and some of these guys are in the top leagues in the world," Rautins said. "At last count, there were 79 guys playing in the NCAA and I've encountered 20, 30 kids who are all going to great programs this fall. Our two NBA guys just happen to be all-stars, plus throw in some CIS all-stars. 'LOOKS PRETTY GOOD' "When you add it all up, it looks pretty good." Rautins is trying to erase the notion that Steve Nash (Phoenix) and Jamaal Magloire (New Orleans) are the only things happening in Canadian basketball and with the qualification tournament for the 2006 world championship coming up in August, he believes the time for excuses regarding Canada's poor showings over the past few years (failing to qualify for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, a 12th place finish at the 2002 world championship) is over. "If we ever got the 12 best guys in Canada playing at the same time, I'll play anybody tomorrow," a fired up Rautins said. "You schedule a game next week, give us our top 12 guys. That's where we need to get to. "We need to get everybody excited about the program so at some point in time, that can happen." Wrapping up a five-city, Western Canada tour to evaluate and identify talent for a variety of levels, Rautins is no stranger to the national team. The former NBA player replaced Jay Triano as head coach in February and holds the distinction of being the Canadian national team's youngest member when he made the squad as a 16-year-old in 1977. Treating his head coaching position like that of a college coach, he's out building relationships with young players now in hopes they won't forget about Canada when a world championship or Olympic qualifier shows up on the calendar. Rautins knows it's a challenge, but has one key marketing point in his back pocket. People, specifically scouts, watch the international game. "The reality is this: If you're a young player and you have aspirations to play professionally one day, the world stage is where it's at," he said. "There's no bigger stage. You look at what's happening in the NBA and the influx of international players who make an impact. "I want every Canadian kid to get excited about that." (Note: Ask Brad Parker and Carl English) Chris Dyck, 19, is buying what Rautins is selling. The second-year Manitoba Bisons guard was one of the few players hand-picked by the national program to work out for Rautins at Sisler High School last night. FLATTERING He wouldn't have to be asked twice about playing for his country. "That's something you always dream of," Dyck said. "When I got the call to participate in this, I was really excited. It's very flattering to even be mentioned or that Basketball Canada would even think of me. "If I ever got the opportunity to play for Canada, I would. No question about it." Erfan Nasajpour and Matt Opalko from the Winnipeg Wesmen; O'Neil Gordon and Mario Joseph from the Brandon Bobcats; Cyril Indome from J.H. Bruns; Adam Dobriansky of Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute; and Glenlawn Collegiate's Cam Hornby were also invited to the evaluation camp. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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