Canada Basketball appears to have a plan for the future.
On Monday, the organization announced that it will give men’s and women’s senior national team coaches Leo Rautins and Allison McNeill two-year contract extensions through 2012.
In addition, the federation also appointed Renato Pasquali and Michele O’Keefe in the newly created technical director, and director of basketball operations, respectively.
The rationale behind the recent moves is to create a consistent pipeline of talent that eventually filters into the national program. This allows Rautins and McNeill to have players with international experience already under their belt.
The decision to keep the two coaches was made to stabilize the senior teams, who made a return to their respective world championships this year.
Qualifiers for both teams for the 2012 London Olympics will take place next summer, and, according to Rautins, solidifying a foundation quickly has been a priority.
“Winning comes when everything else is done right,” Rautins told reporters. “The last couple of years I’ve enjoyed my time more than ever at Canada Basketball because of the progress I’m seeing at all the other levels that allow you — hopefully — to become a winning program.
“It doesn’t always translate into wins initially but we’re getting better all the time and I think winning is going to become much more common for our program and that’s our goal.”
Pasquali and O’Keefe will be essential to bringing success to the national program on the management side.
Wayne Parrish, executive director and CEO of Canada Basketball, is excited about what Pasquali, a former assistant coach with the senior men’s team, can bring to the table.
“[Pasquali’s] excellent resume, his involvement on the technical side of our men’s senior program and the enthusiastic reception to his work last year during two cross-country tours left us trying to find the best way to involve him on a more consistent basis,” Parrish told basketball.ca
“Being able to establish the role of technical director and having someone of [Pasquali’s] calibre involved is a very exciting opportunity for this organization and the game of basketball across the country.”
O’Keefe comes to the organization after serving as the executive director of Ontario Basketball for three years, and Parrish believes having her onboard will pay dividends.
“[O’Keefe’s] range of experience, her deep roots in the basketball community as a player, coach and administrator and the relationships she has built at all levels across the country make her an absolutely unique individual,” Parrish said.
“While we’ve made headway in knitting the community together at both the grassroots and elite levels in recent years, there is much work still to be done building on that to develop the overall structure that will consistently produce outstanding international-calibre athletes. Michele is a perfect fit to oversee that process.”
Parrish is hoping the recent hiring activity will make the federation stronger.
“Canada Basketball is thrilled to be in a position to grow our sport from an organizational standpoint, which in turn will only enhance all aspects of the game that is delivered on the court from the grassroots to the elite level across this country,” he said.