Aug. 22 is the point where the rubber meets the road on Canada Basketball's path back to prominence.
Months after the rumours first surfaced, Canada's own Jay Triano will be repatriated as head coach of the senior men's national team now that his duties with the U.S. Dream Team are complete. Canada Basketball, now graced by general manager Steve Nash, has scheduled a press conference for Thursday at 1 p.m. ET at Air Canada Centre; reports also indicate Houston Rockets assistant coach Kelvin Sampson along with the Carleton Ravens' Dave Smart and Waterloo Warriors' Greg Francis, who went head-to-head in last season's CIS Final 8 championship game (Francis was then with the Alberta Golden Bears), will also be named to the staff.
The real take-home, though, is this comes just as Nash is trying something new in Canada: holding a camp with high schoolers, collegians and pros with the intent of forming a talent pool that will peak in time for qualifying forthe 2016 Olympics.
[Update: NBA players Tristan Thompson, Andrew Nicholson, Cory Joseph and Joel Anthony are all attending the aforementioned camp.]
From Doug Smith.
Final details of precisely who will be at the camp are being kept under wraps by Canada Basketball officials, but sources say it will include a wide-range of promising Canadian talent.
It will be much like the American model developed in the mid-2000s in the United States when former Phoenix Suns executive Jerry Colangelo began a process of getting long-term commitments from the top NBA players that ultimately led to 2008 and 2012 Olympic golds and a 2010 world championship.
"We'll explore the American model for sure," Nash said when he was appointed. "I think they've done a phenomenal job under Jerry and obviously I have a great relationship with Jerry so I hopefully can learn a lot from him."
Nash and assistant general manager Rowan Barrett, a former national team standout, have been working long and hard behind the scenes to develop relationships with the younger players who will form the nucleus of the team for the next decade. (Toronto Star)
Canada tried to go with a more European style of game under previous head coach Leo Rautins. The principle might have been sound at the time. A country with less basketball talent could not expect to out-American America. In hindsight, it looks more like a square-peg approach, considering the heavy U.S. influence on hoops north of the border. The high-water point under Rautins was qualifying for the 2010 world championship, where Canada went 0-5.
It is no secret that Canada has a bumper crop of talent that goes well beyond recent NBA first-rounders such as the Cleveland Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson and Orlando Magic's Anthony Nicholson and prep school phenoms such as Andrew Wiggins.
Carleton Ravens coach Dave Smart (Andrew Vaughan, The Canadian Press)Hiring future Hall of Famer Nash in was one prong for a reemerging program. Triano, Sampson, Francis and Smart each cover the full gamut of the sport in North America. The former two currently work in the NBA, while Francis is a former NCAA star and coach of Canada's junior national team. Smart, whose Carleton Ravens are going for a record ninth CIS championship this season (they've already beaten two NCAA Division I teams and only lost by four to UNLV) might be unsurpassed as a tactical coach and a motivator. University of Toronto coach Mike Katz was on Triano's staff with the 2000 Olympic team which had Nash as its floor leader. Katz could also be in the mix as a mentor coach, a source indicated.
The leadership is in place. This weekend is the first indicator of whether the talent buys in.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.