It appears Jay Triano's nearly eight-year estrangement from Canada Basketball will soon end.
There's no telling how far Canada's senior men's national team was set back by the short-sighted decision to dismiss Triano following the 2004 Olympics cycle, when the country fell short of qualifying for Athens. There's been a lot of years in the wilderness ever since — twice failing to qualify for the Olympics, icon Steve Nash getting unfairly pilloried for being loyal being loyal to a long-time friend and having a TV analyst, Leo Rautins, as head coach — but the pieces could soon be in place to turn that around. The Toronto Sun's Frank Ziccarelli reported that Triano, who's an assistant coach for Team USA, will rejoin his homeland's national team.
The time is not now, but it will soon arrive, likely once this summer's Olympics are put to bed, for Triano to lead what many believe is the golden age of Canadian hoops, when so much homegrown talent is either playing in the NBA or is knocking on its doors.
The buzz among basketball's circles, at least in Canada, is that Triano will succeed Leo Rautins as national team head coach.
It should be clearly pointed out that nothing is official, but unofficially all signs are pointing to Triano leading a new wave of talent that features Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph with a pool of talent so deep that it would be foolish to start naming all the names playing in U.S. prep schools or at big-time NCAA programs.
It's also expected that Nash will soon return to his basketball roots in Canada, a position some believe will be as general manager.
... An announcement on [Nash's] role with Canada Basketball may come as early as next month. (Toronto Sun)
Canada's fortunes on the floor in recent years (it should be mentioned that Rautins did manage to coax the squad to qualify for the 2010 world championship) have not stemmed from the Nash problem. It's been more of a cash problem. So having two of the most recognized and respected figures in Canadian basketball in key positions would do a lot to raise the organization's profile, both at the grassroots and in corporate programs. To put it mildly, Canada Basketball has been dealing with a double-edged sword on the money side, since a team sport doesn't get much Own The Podium funding (only two medals to be potentially won) and the low profile means corporate support is hard to earn.
So this development is is great news, provided a Nash-Triano braintrust would have the resource to run a program that appeals to the most talented players with a Canadian passport. The prospect of the Carleton Ravens' Dave Smart, who is the brightest mind coaching anything anywhere in this country, becoming head coach was really just a nice thought. With all due unsurpassed respect to Smart, this is probably a case where the NBA and pedigree of Olympics past counts for more than coaching genius. It's the best way to sell players in the system such as 16-year-old phenom Andrew Wiggins that it's worth giving up their summer to wear the Maple Leaf.
(One would hope every effort would be made to involve Smart, whose Ravens are a near-lock to win their eighth national title in 10 seasons at the CIS Final 8 this weekend in Halifax.)
Ultimately, on a smaller scale, this could be as vital to basketball as Monday's announcement of who will guide Canada's next men's Olympic hockey team. No one's talking about an Olympic gold medal, but having a team which can keep up with most of the world beaters is something to shoot for.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: The Canadian Press).