By Paula Sanderson
Former Raptors coach excited to watch basketball’s best in Halifax
Former Toronto Raptors head coach Jay Triano was named the honorary chair of the 2012 CIS Final 8 men’s basketball championships at a press conference held at the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame Feb. 10.
Triano, a native of Niagara Falls, Ont., led the Raptors from 2009-2011 and was head coach of the Canadian men’s national team from 1998-2004.
On the phone from Toronto later in the day, Triano says he finally has the time to be involved in the national tournament.
“Being in the role I had in the past, as the coach of the Toronto Raptors, the schedule never permitted me to do it,” said Triano, now a consultant and a special assistant to Bryan Colangelo, the Raptors’ president and general manager. “I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to go and do the tournament again.”
This year’s CIS championship is being held in Halifax from March 9-11. In 2013, the tourney will return to Ottawa, where Carleton University will host the event for two years.
“It is always special when we can host the Final 8, and perhaps even more so this year as we will be saying goodbye for at least two years, said Phil Currie, executive director of Atlantic University Sport, in a press release. “Having Jay on board with us this year adds something really special to our send off. His participation is helping to build even more excitement in the city and across the national basketball community.”
Triano is passionate about the sport and that is a big reason why he is involved with this year’s tournament, an event he considers integral to the continued development of basketball in Canada.
“I think every year the coaches pull their teams together in September and they start working with players on the court and off the court,” says Triano. “[The tournament is] the culmination of everybody’s dream.”
In his role as honorary chair, Triano will be participating in a wide range of events.
“For the most part, I’ll be spending some time with the coaches, watching all the games and enjoying the hospitality that Halifax always brings,” says Triano. He added he is most looking forward to watching the games and seeing old friends.
He won’t make any predictions on who he thinks will win though. “I hate to do that,” said Triano. “I don’t want to jinx somebody. I have too many friends and don’t want to make some of my friends mad. I stay away from predictions and just sit back and enjoy it.”
This will mark the 32ndtime Nova Scotia has hosted the tournament, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary next month.