Revamped coaching staff creates more optimism


Sports Reporter


A REVAMPED coaching staff for the Bahamas Basketball Federation’s national team programme, headlined by Division I NCAA coaches, has created an increased level of optimism as teams head into international competition this summer.

Steve Barnes, assistant coach of the Colorado State Rams and assistant coach of the Bahamas National Junior and Cadet programmes, said the Bahamian public can look forward to the BBF fielding not only an internationally competitive squad, but one of the better series of national teams in recent memory.

“We are looking at putting together some of the top older guys and also some of the top high major division I players that are playing in the US at schools like UCLA, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Houston and other places, looking for the top Bahamian players, so we feel this country will have the best group it has had in a very long time. We are working behind the scenes and I think you are going to see your best teams and best production, not only at the national level, but sending kids to major division I high level schools, improving local high school basketball and eventually producing some professional players in the future “ he said.

“When Coach [Larry] Eustachy was named the head coach of the senior national team, and he’s a coach that has won over 450 games at the division one level in the United States, that created a favourable response from a lot of the better players. We have heard from Mychal Thompson Jr, Magnum Rolle, Anwar Ferguson, guys like that, who have all been very interested in playing this summer that haven’t been major national team presences in the past.”

With Larry Eustachy leading the men’s teams and Grand Bahama native Yolett McPhee-McCuin leading the women, the BBF’s intention was to bring greater focus and organisation in the sport for the country on the international stage.

Barnes, who recently completed his first season as an assistant with the Rams after spending the previous year as the director of player personnel, said the establishment of a permanent and ongoing database will be the key factor in the development of the national team process.

“There is a tremendous talent pool in the Bahamas and we try to work with it everyday looking at it and familiarising ourselves with the players. We have been working all year with the BBF executives, getting to know more people in the Bahamas and putting together as many names as we can put together. Establishing a database is so important. When we first started it was very hard to figure out who was who. We would hear names but there was not an established database so we had to begin somewhat from the ground up. We are continuously exposed to it and what we have found is that it’s not a question of whether we have good enough players. I think what has to come together is the organisational side. The organisation of this whole thing, is most important. You can always have different opinions on who is the top guys, which is good conversations and is good for the fans, we want that - the worst thing is to not have any conversation at all. I don’t see any issues with the talent level, there is plenty of talent, it’s just a matter of pulling it all together. It’s much like the islands themselves, there are so many islands that are so spread out, but each has something and we have to pull it together and organise, but it is coming together fast.”

This fall, Barnes will welcome his first Bahamian recruit to the Rams programme, Nathan Bain, from the Sunrise Christian Academy and formerly of the Tabernacle Baptist Falcons.

As both senior national teams prepare for the Caribbean Basketball Confederation Championships in July, Barnes said the staff will now have an opportunity to vet more local players.

“We are just getting tapped into seeing more of the local guys. Last summer I was named by the Bahamas Basketball Federation as an assistant coach for both the juniors and cadets, so I started by following both of those teams to Uruguay and Puerto Rico. I had a chance to get to know a lot of the younger guys, it may have been a small group but they are a few of the top 24 guys in those two classes,” he said.

“Now we get to see some of the older guys that may vie for a spot on these teams. Every time I come down here for a visit I meet new people, sometimes I hear the same names, sometimes I hear new names. So what is happening is that every trip, e-mail or phone call that is made, we get a bit more knowledgeable about the structure and it will all lead to having the best team possible.”

The CBC Championship is scheduled for July 1- 5 (Men) and July 8-12 (Women) in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Men’s teams will include Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Guyana, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Virgin Islands and the host, British Virgin Islands.

Women’s teams will include the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Virgin Islands fighting for three spots in the 2014 Centrobasket Championship for Men and Women in Mexico.


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