I came here to Toronto about 10 days ago and during these days I have spent time with my family and relatives here and enjoyed the city of Toronto. But I have also visited some different basketball events and practices and spoken to several basketball people.
The first Sunday of my stay here in Toronto I went to watch the NBA game between the Raptors and the Phoenix Suns. It was a good offensive game which I have written about earlier here on my blog. During the game I met Mike Mackay from Canada Basketball and Derrick Stryker from Ontario Basketball. We all decided to stay in touch and last Wednesday I met Mike Mackay, working at the Canada Basketball Federation. We had a very interesting meeting and a great sharing of ideas between our National Team programs.
I met Mike at the U19 World Championships 2007 in Serbia (Novi Sad) for Men and in Bratislava for Women (when Sweden ended up at 2nd place after loosing to the US in the Gold Medal Game). Together with Sefu Bernard we all had interesting discussions at that time so I was very happy to get a chance to meet him here in Toronto.
Last Friday I was invited to the Toronto Raptors in Air Canada Center to meet one of their video coordinators Jon Goodwillie and it was very interesting to see how the Raptors work with the video scouting. They really break down both their own team and each opponents in all the small details and aspects of the game of basketball. Jon also showed me their facilities with practice gym, a great locker room (with direct video feed from the video room), the coaches office and the rehab room (also with a direct video feed). I will write a longer article about video scouting and how to break down the game here on my blog so keep your eyes open.
I also had a chance to meet Maurizio Gherardini (Vice president of the Raptors and in charge of basketball operations) who actually set me up to meet Jon. The Raptors office is located in the Air Canada Center together with for example the Toronto Maple Leafs’ office. Both pro-teams have the same owner who is also the owner of the soccer team.
Last Sunday, two days ago, I went to Humber Lakeshore College where the Ontario Basketball had a work-out with boys 92-94, mainly high school kids who once a week gather and get more work out in the fundamentals of the game. The programs in their different high schools or club teams vary in quality and getting the players together helps out to give everyone a higher level of basketball practice. The coaches were very enthusiastic and worked hard with the players, I would guess about 30-35 players attended the morning work-out. Compared to Sweden it was like a district-team for U16 and U18 getting together. Like in Sweden what limits the players is often the lack of good fundamentals. There is no short cut to become a good basketball player, you need to work hard with your fundamentals and work on learning how to read and play the game together with other players. No matter if you live in Sweden, Europe or in Canada for example.
In charge of the Toronto program above is Tom Oliveri, a coach at York University here in Toronto. Tom invited me to see their practice yesterday evening (Monday) and I found my way out there through the community transportation (which I have learned to master in these 10 days). When I entered the big gym they worked on “big and smalls” and Tom worked with the big guys and then they scrimmaged a big part of the work-out. It was interesting to see the level of the players.
The players worked hard and I must say that there are a some players in the group who have the potential to become good players. I would guess that some of them could make it in Europe. Specially the ones who have European passports. Going to a league like for example the Swedish League would be a great chance for them in a couple of years and maybe also as a spring board to higher leagues if they succeed in Sweden.
In all the places I have visited so far everyone has been very nice and welcoming. I’m very thankful for that and these experiences have given me a wider perspective of the game of basketball.
Soon I will head into the city to the Air Canada Center to watch the Raptors taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves. I have been invited to see the game from the inside (the video coordination room) where they work on the game LIVE to give coaches and players video of different plays and so on at half time or just have the game ready after the final buzzer to dig into and start analyzing. This will be very interesting and I look forward to later on share my experience here.
Have a good evening!