You Can’t Teach Experience: Don’t Underestimate Team Canada Veterans
You can’t teach experience.
Coaches and players can work to build and improve skill set, attitude, or X’s & O’s in preperation for international competition, however time is what will ultimately aid in overall growth.
In other words, you can’t teach experience.
Of the remaining players at the Canadian Senior national team camp, there are several valuable pieces that will not be measured fairly by the public, based off a lack of notoriety.
The marquee names like Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph will naturally get the buzz as the new blood, with NBA pedigree. But what we all must keep in mind, is that Team Canada had a group of players prior to the introduction of NBA talent.
There are guys that have been paying their dues, putting in work for years, producing for both Canada and their respective pro teams.
I’ve received responses from some, saying guys like Carl English and Jevohn Shepherd should be included as part of the next three cuts.
Starting off with English–outside of his experience, he is likely Canada’s best scorer, according to Head Coach Jay Triano.
“If he’s able to make it, he has ability to be a veteran presence who understands the international game and is one of the leading scorers in maybe the best league in Europe. We think scoring points is something that might be difficult for us, here is a guy that does it for a living.”
The English Teacher
Carl English has been part of Team Canada since 2005, and is fresh off a career year in Spain where he averaged a league-high 17 points per game, playing for Estudiantes.
“Oldest? Am I really? I didn’t even know,” he joked, following the team’s last session in Toronto.
“All these guys are so young they make me feel young. Thirty-two is not really that old, is it? How old is Steve Nash, he’s still one of the best isn’t he?”
“I’m wise, lets leave it at that. I’ve been around the block a time or two and have had success at the international level.”
I watched as much practice as possible throughout the past two weeks, and when English was involved, the teacher in him was evident as he directed guards to their spots or passed along instruction to the younger players.
“My goal is to stay healthy and to help the team in any way I can, and to teach…there’s a lot that I can bring on the basketball court, but also off the court.”
Joel Anthony, Jermaine Anderson – True Professionals
While they play in different leagues seperated by the Atlantic Ocean, both Joel Anthony and Jermaine Anderson have consistently carried a level of professionalism throughout their entire careers, that coaches rave about.
Anthony, a two-time NBA champion with the Miami Heat brings a winning pedigree and experience at the highest level. While most see him as a quiet guy, he is actually a great communicator, particularly on the defensive end, where he is most effective.
He understands the importance of getting rest, and taking care of his body, especially with the physicality of the international game–much higher than that of the NBA.
Young bigs such as Andrew Nicholson and Tristan Thompson have shown signs of frustration in adjusting to the rules and the grit of international play, but have improved daily.
As for Jermaine “Rock” Anderson, he is the most seasoned veteran guard having played with Team Canada since 2004, with over 75 international games under his belt.
Coaches know what to expect from Rock game in and game out; his consistency, along with veteran leadership at the point make him a major asset.
Outside of the adjustments that need to be made regarding international rules, the atmosphere is much different than North America. The basketball culture is intense, and the fans will hold nothing back. With this being said, players like Anderson and Anthony will remain poised and never show signs of mental weakness.
These two players will set the tone inside and out on the floor, while also passing along their professional traits to the next in line.
Aaron Doornekamp, Jevohn Shepherd: Utility Men
Doornekamp brings a great deal of mental and physical toughness. He plays his role, and does what ever the team needs, whether it be scoring, rebounding or bruising (if necessary). A high IQ player with versatility, and becuase of these traits, he has a good chance of making this team.
Like Doornekamp, Jevohn Shepherd has the ability to serve multiple purposes. “I don’t have a specific role, I will provide whatever the coach and team need from me.”
In game one against Jamaica, Shepherd registered 12 points on 5/9 from the field, six rebounds and key defensive stops. In game two, Shep followed up with seven points, three rebounds and three assists.
“It’s nothing new anymore, you know what to expect. It’s a different game to a lot of the college and NBA guys,” Shepherd told NPH, regarding his comfort level playing internationally.
“It’s high level basketball in Europe, I was in Romania this past season, played in Germany as well, and will be in Italy this upcoming season.”
Levon Kendall: A Point to Prove
Not many ‘new’ Canadian basketball fans are familiar with the name, but the 6’10 stretch-four from British Columbia is coming off a great season with Blusens Monbus.
Kendall expressed, “I had the best year of my career in Spain, it was great for me personally and the team did very well, better than people expected.”
Kendall averaged 12.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists this past season, and was the team’s second leading scorer. He has great versatility as he can stretch the floor with his size, while also productive on the interior.
“Im definitely in my element. I was joking with Michael Grange [Sportsnet] at the beginning of camp, and I said it’s funny, with all the NBA guys doing the interviews…my personal motivation was to remind people that I’m still around and I’ve been doing this for a long time.”
Kendall was a big part of Canada’s two victories over Jamaica. In game one, he displayed his versatility to a packed house in Toronto, registering 16 points, second only to Brady Heslip’s 18, who has been an X-Factor for Team Canada.
“A lot of times experience wins, and not to take anything away from the young guys, they are extremely talented and will be a huge part of this team, but people sort of forget about you quickly, so it was nice to get that little reminder in there.”
And this piece is a reminder…the vets still got it.