Chris Finch is the new coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team announced Monday after dismissing Ryan Saunders the previous night.
Saunders was fired Sunday after the team with the NBA’s worst record this season lost for the eighth time in the last nine games. The team quickly hired Finch, who was in his first season as an assistant with the Toronto Raptors.
“Chris brings a wealth of basketball experience from his time in the NBA, G League and Internationally,” Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said. “He is one of the most creative basketball minds in the NBA, has success maximizing players, and I am excited to see him bring our team to the next level and beyond.”
At 7-24, Minnesota has the league’s worst record this season and already is 7 1/2 games out of what would be the final play-in spot for the Western Conference post-season. The Timberwolves next play on Tuesday, visiting Milwaukee.
“We would like to thank Ryan for his time and commitment to the Timberwolves organization and wish him the best in the future,” Rosas said. “These are difficult decisions to make, however this change is in the best interest of the organization’s short and long-term goals.”
Key players sidelined
It had been a wildly disappointing season for the Timberwolves, who started 2-0 and haven’t had much to savour since. Karl-Anthony Towns, the team’s best player, dislocated his left wrist in the season’s second game and missed six games, returned and missed 13 more after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
D’Angelo Russell, the other key piece for the Timberwolves, had surgery last week on his left knee and may be out until April.
There was no sign the Timberwolves had stopped playing for Saunders; they were down by 21 points in the third quarter at New York earlier Sunday, then took the lead in the final minutes before falling 103-99.
“Unfortunately we ran out of time,” Saunders said after that loss.
He was talking about the game.
Before long, that sentence had a very different meaning.
Connection to Rosas
Finch has history with Rosas, working together with the Houston Rockets. He coached the team’s affiliate in what is now called the G League, winning a championship with Rio Grande Valley, then became a Rockets assistant. He went on to have assistant jobs in Denver and New Orleans and was hired by the Raptors in November.
“I look forward to working hand and hand with Gersson to build and lead a team Timberwolves fans will be proud of,” Rosas said. “We have excellent pieces in place and I can’t wait to get to work.”
Saunders, the 34-year-old son of longtime Minnesota coach Flip Saunders, was with the Timberwolves for parts of three seasons, going 43-94. Flip Saunders died in 2015.
Dismissing Saunders was the first coaching change in the league since this season began. There were nine coaches in new jobs entering this season.
Tenicha Gittens finally had the opportunity to take matters into her own hands — and she didn’t let the moment pass her by.
Tired of not having many Black people in coaching positions in the Canadian university ranks, Gittens, after becoming head coach of the Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team in 2015, made the decision to hire a staff composed of people of colour.
“Representation absolutely matters. We’re just not in those positions. And it’s almost you don’t see a problem with it. And that’s a problem,” Gittens said. “So for me, I was put in a position where I could hire who I want to. And so I’m going to do my best to give Black people an opportunity. Because they don’t get those opportunities.”
A CBC Sports investigation backs up Gittens’ observation.
A visual audit done by CBC Sports examined hundreds of key positions at all 56 Canadian universities that compete under the U Sports umbrella, including the school’s athletic director and head coaches of football, men’s and women’s basketball, hockey and soccer and track.
Of the nearly 400 positions examined, only about 10 per cent were held by Black, Indigenous or persons of colour (BIPOC). Only one school in U Sports has a non-white athletic director, the top leadership position in athletics at Canadian universities.
Gittens says she’s seen a few heads turn when opposing teams see the composition of her coaching staff. She recalls a time when an opposing coach made mention of her coaching staff.
“We’re talking before the game. And we’re talking it up. And he looks over at my bench and says, ‘Oh, you got all the colours over there,'” Gittens said.
“I looked at him and said, ‘If I don’t hire them, who will?'”
In the Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec conference where Gittens coaches, nearly 80 per cent of the 48 athletic director and coaching positions are held by white people.
“It’s not surprising to me. You look at these resumes and wonder what the difference is and I see what the difference is. That’s the system. That’s how it is. It’s always made harder for us to get those opportunities,” Gittens said.
Gittens grew up in Montreal and enjoyed an all-star career at Dawson College before heading south to the U.S. She went on to play one year at Eastern Arizona Junior College before moving to Hofstra University, a Division 1 program in Hempstead, N.Y. She played one season with the Pride and graduated from Hofstra in 2007 with a Bachelor of Business Administration, Marketing.
While playing in the U.S. it became grossly apparent to Gittens there was a massive lack of BIPOC representation. She wondered about her own future hopes of one day coaching.
WATCH | ‘It’s everybody’s movement’:
Tenicha Gittens, head coach of Concordia University’s women’s basketball team, speaks about how important it is for Black coaches to be given important roles and positions to succeed. 1:21
“I never thought it was possible because, one, I’m Black and two, I’m female,” Gittens said.
She didn’t have many role models to look up to. And so when it came time to apply for the head coaching position at Concordia, there was some fear and trepidation.
“I couldn’t imagine this for myself. I look back and think they were all white,” Gittens said.
And Gittens is not alone in that sentiment.
Bobby Mitchell is the head coach of the UBC Okanagan women’s basketball team.
Despite having great success at the high school level as a head coach, Mitchell wasn’t sure it would ever translate into getting a top coaching spot in the university ranks.
“I didn’t get a call. Nobody was calling me or anything like that. I sent a lot of players off to post-secondary [schools] through our program,” he said. “And when I speak to some of the Black athletes and people of colour, a lot of them just don’t feel like the door’s even gonna be open for them.”
Concrete policies needed
In the U Sports Canada West conference where Mitchell coaches, more than 90 per cent of the 117 athletic director and coaching positions are held by white people.
Mitchell says if that number is going to change to include BIPOC representation, concrete plans and policies need to be implemented.
“There will have to be some things that are mandated to help increase funding for community organizations at lower levels to include younger players and staff to have the ability to move up,” he said.
Mitchell says in many cases Black people are filling roles below the head coaching position but never have the opportunity to assume the higher ranks.
“Generally speaking, assistant coaches, second and third coaches aren’t earning a lot. But we have to find a way to give them a little bit of opportunity, whether it’s through camps or other means, there has to be more financial opportunity to get that foot in the door.”
In the backdrop of social unrest over the killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer and months of protest that followed, Gittens is now more motivated than ever to create tangible deliverables to level the playing field in the coaching ranks within the sports university system in Canada.
Alongside a limited group of BIPOC coaches in the country, Gittens has helped form the Black Canadian Coaches Association — a volunteer organization committed to providing a platform for Black Canadians in the sport industry. It includes aspiring and current coaches of all sports, formal and informal sport businesses owners, media and marketing individuals, fitness and wellness coaches, and well as those in senior level administrations of sport.
WATCH | Report on diversity in Canadian sports:
Canadian universities and national sports groups say they have to do more to diversify their coaching staff and leadership, after CBC Sports carried out a visual audit and found the vast majority of those positions are held by people who are white. 2:10
“We need policies. Not just conversation. If it doesn’t lead to action, then we’re just talking,” Gittens said.
There are four key pillars the organization is focusing on to create meaningful and lasting change, including celebrating and supporting Black Canadians in the sport industry, empowering and advocating for Black Canadians, and having a long-term vision for Black Canadians in the sport industry.
‘Now is the time to do this’
“We’re talking about a charter. We want real change. Now is the time to do this. It’s our moment and it’s a movement,” Gittens said. “We have to do it now. Because two years from now people will forget about this.”
Gittens isn’t the only one pushing for structural change within Canada’s sports framework.
Asher Hill is a former competitive figure skater for Canada.
At the beginning of June he spoke exclusively to CBC Sports about the racism he faced as a skater and now as a coach. Hill filed an official misconduct complaint with Skate Canada last June, highlighting a number of instances spanning five years where he says a co-worker at a Brampton, Ont., figure skating club was abusive with racist, homophobic and misogynistic language.
He says nothing was done about it. Hill says he felt alienated and silenced. And then felt rage when he saw Skate Canada post to social media its support of Black community following George’s death.
“They wanted to sweep it under the rug. It’s shocking they didn’t talk to the people. When they came down with their decision, they threatened to suspend me or take away my license after I spoke out,” he said.
Skate Canada denies Hill’s allegation that he was reprimanded and says it never threatened to suspend him or revoke his license after speaking out.
There is no BIPOC representation on Skate Canada’s Board — all 12 positions are held by white people.
In an email to CBC Sports, the national sport organization admitted they “have more work to do to ensure that our organization — including the board of directors — reflects the diversity of our community.”
The organization says it’s proud that half of the board members are female but they know “steps must be taken to improve the racial inclusion of our organization.”
Hill says these words continue to fall short of the mark.
“They don’t get to leave their Blackness at the door. They can’t leave that space where allies or people who jump in to issue flashy statements can retreat back into their lives.”
Hill, along with dozens of other figure skaters, current and retired, have formed the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance. They’re holding video conference calls twice a week to work through a document they plan on sending to government and sport leaders in Canada, including the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Out of the 18 board member positions at the COC, only one is BIPOC.
COC changing board election process
“While diverse representation on the COC board has been an area of focus in the past few election cycles, it is clear that there needs to be an enhanced focus and intentional steps towards ensuring better BIPOC representation,” the COC said in an email to CBC Sports.
The organization says it can no longer rely on the public call for nominations process, but rather it needs to be more intentional and proactive in attracting BIPOC candidates to apply for board positions.
“We know through history, the powers that be will not do anything,” Hill said. “The onus is always on the oppressed to make change.”
Change, Hill says, takes shape through six main focuses in the call to action document the Figure Skating Alliance is working on, including equitable representation of employees and board members, policy change, education, race-based demographic data, a media campaign and an overhaul of program accessibility and funding.
Hill says these sport organizations claim they’re ready to make changes but he remains skeptical.
“We have the receipts. We have all these people and groups saying they want to make changes. They’re using it as political capital but we have them on the record,” Hill said.
The Montreal Impact have named former Arsenal and France star Thierry Henry as head coach. Henry will join the club on a a two-year deal, with an option for 2022.
Over the 42-year-old’s illustrious 20-year playing career, Henry became the all-time leading scorer for both Arsenal and France and led his country to a 1998 World Cup title at home, followed by a EURO 2000 win.
Henry retired in 2014 and quickly moved into coaching beginning with the Academy of English club Arsenal, then as a assistant with Belgium’s national team.
In 2018 Henry accepted a coaching position with French side AS Monaco, the club where his professional playing career began but was eventually dismissed in January.
Henry will be formally introduced on Monday and will be at the helm of the team as of mid-January when training camp begins, the Impact said in a release.
“We are extremely happy to announce the nomination of this legend of the game,” said Impact president and CEO Kevin Gilmore. “Henry will bring a new energy to our club. He shares our vision to elevate this club and will help us achieve our goals on and off the field.
Henry said in a statement: “It’s a league I know well, in which I had some very nice moments. To be in Quebec, in Montreal, which has an enormous multicultural heritage, it’s extraordinary.”
A pilot who crashed a commercial float plane while landing at a southeast Alaska village had just five hours of float plane experience when he began his company orientation in April, according to federal investigators.
The crash killed pilot Ron Rash, 51, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Sarah Luna, 32, a senior epidemiologist in the liver disease and hepatitis program of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. She was the only passenger.
The NTSB preliminary report cites no cause for the second crash.
Managers at Taquan Air told investigators that Rash, who is not named in the NTSB report, was a new seasonal hire for the 2019 season.
He held a commercial pilot certificate with single-engine land, single-engine sea and instrument airplane ratings.
When he started Taquan orientation on April 22, he had accumulated more than 1,600 flight hours but just five in airplanes equipped with floats. He completed check rides in a float-equipped plane on May 3 and initial operation experience requirements on May 11.
Winds 18.5 km/h, clear skies
The float plane crashed on a scheduled flight while landing after a 35-kilometre flight from Ketchikan.
An airport near the crash site reported winds at 18.5 km/h, visibility of 16 kilometres and clear skies.
Three witnesses said the float plane’s approach to the harbour was normal.
Two said that just before the floats touched the water, the airplane’s wings rocked left and then right. One witness said the right wing struck the water and the airplane flipped nose-first.
A witness from a fishing boat said he saw the right float “dig into the water” before the airplane nosed over. The right wing and right lift strut broke off and sank. They have not been recovered.
The cockpit and airplane cabin partially sank. Two boats rushed to aid the plane and a fishing boat hoisted the tail slightly out of the water.
Good Samaritans and Metlakatla emergency medical technicians removed the pilot and passenger from the plane. They were declared dead at Annette Island Health Center.
The Ottawa Senators have turned to the Toronto Maple Leafs for their new bench boss.
Ottawa announced Thursday morning it has hired Toronto assistant coach D.J. Smith as their new head coach, replacing interim coach Marc Crawford.
“D.J. Smith is a winner. We believe he is the best person to drive the development and success of the Ottawa Senators,” said general manager Pierre Dorion in a statement.
“[He] is a great communicator and an exceptional strategist. His passionate approach, coupled with his ability to teach the game, is exactly what we were looking for throughout the process.”
Smith, 42, was brought into the Leafs organization by coach Mike Babcock in 2015 after Babcock inked an eight-year contract.
Before that, Smith led the OHL’s Oshawa Generals to the 2015 Memorial Cup and was an assistant coach in his hometown of Windsor, Ont., when the Spitfires won back-to-back national championships in 2009 and 2010.
He played 45 NHL games between 1996 and 2003 with Toronto and Colorado, spending the rest of his professional playing career in the American Hockey League.
The Green Bay Packers are turning to fast-rising offensive whiz Matt LaFleur to aid Aaron Rodgers and end a two-year absence from the post-season.
LaFleur accepted Green Bay's offer Monday to become the next head coach of the Packers, according to a person familiar with the decision.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the Packers nor the Titans had announced the decision.
LaFleur takes over after Mike McCarthy was fired during the season following a stunning home loss to Arizona. Offensive co-ordinator Joe Philbin went 2-2 to close out the season as the Packers failed to reach the playoffs for the second straight year. The 6-9-1 record was the second straight under .500 for the storied franchise.
The 39-year-old LaFleur spent this past regular season as offensive co-ordinator for the Titans, his first season calling plays in the NFL. He was offensive co-ordinator with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, leading a group that paced the NFL in scoring and was 10th in total offence. Rams coach Sean McVay called the plays on offence.
LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach in Atlanta for two seasons, including when Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was the NFL MVP in 2016. LaFleur also has coached with Washington and Houston, and was the quarterbacks coach for Notre Dame in 2014.
He will be charged with returning the Packers to the playoffs on a regular basis. McCarthy's tenure of 12-plus seasons was by and large successful, highlighted by the 2010 Super Bowl season and nine playoff appearances.
A once potent offence that could make up for other deficiencies slowed in 2018, a tumultuous year that began with Rodgers leading a stirring comeback victory in the opener over the Bears.
The two-time NFL MVP returned after halftime from a left knee injury that nagged him the rest of the season. Rodgers' 62.3 per cent completion rate was his lowest since 2015 (60.7) and his 25 touchdown passes were a low for a season in which he played at least 15 games, though so were his two interceptions.
The Vancouver Whitecaps have hired Canadian Marc Dos Santos as the team's new head coach, a few weeks after Carl Robinson was fired near the end of a slumping season.
The appointment follows weeks of rumours that the Montreal native would be taking over the team.
Montreal Impact head coach Marc Dos Santos celebrates after the Impact beat the Vancouver Whitecaps to win the USL First Division championship final on October 17, 2009. (The Canadian Press / Graham Hughes)
Dos Santos, 41, takes over his first head coaching job in Major League Soccer after serving as an assistant with Los Angeles FC this season and Sporting K.C. in 2015.
In 2017, he led the San Francisco Deltas to the North American Soccer League title.
Before that, Dos Santos worked as a youth coach and technical director in Brazil and later managed the Ottawa Fury of the NASL during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
He served as his hometown Montreal Impact's head coach between 2009 and 2011 while the team competed in the United Soccer Leagues First Division. His team defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps in the 2009 championship game by a 6-3 aggregate score.
Vancouver Whitecaps' Brek Shea reacts after his team's 4-0 loss against the Philadelphia Union in June 2018. (Matt Slocum/The Associated Press)
Dos Santos takes over a Whitecaps team that finished out of the playoffs and struggled to meet expectations this season.
The club finished eighth in the west, missing the postseason for the second time in three years. The Whitecaps also lost their best player after Alphonso Davies signed a deal to move to German giants Bayern Munich in January.
Team chemistry emerged as a problem throughout the year, with team captain Kendall Waston plainly stating he was seeking to leave the Whitecaps at season's end, and veteran Russell Teibert stating there were divides in the locker room.
"There has been a lack of respect for the jersey in this season," Teibert said. "And that can't happen anymore. Going forward into 2019, you have to respect this jersey and this club."
The Calgary Flames have named Bill Peters as the team’s head coach.
The 53-year-old from Three Hills, Alta., resigned as head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday after four seasons and a year remaining on his contract.
The Flames fired Glen Gulutzan and assistants Dave Cameron and Paul Gerrard last week after missing the playoffs with a 37-35-10 record.
In his NHL head coaching debut, Peters went 137-138-53 with the Hurricanes but wasn’t able to get the team into the playoffs.
Carolina was looking for a new general manager as Ron Francis was reassigned within the organization, so Peters’ tenure there would have eventually been subject to the new GM’s approval.
Peters is Calgary general manager Brad Treliving’s second head-coaching hire after Gulutzan, and the fourth coach of the Flames in nine years after Gulutzan (2016-17) Bob Hartley (2012-16) and Brent Sutter (2009-12).
Calgary has finished outside the playoffs seven of the last nine years.
Peters was the head coach and Treliving one of general managers of the Canadian team that won gold at the 2016 men’s world hockey championship in Russia. Peters is coaching Canada again at the world championship May 4-20 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
After navigating the Spokane Chiefs to Western Hockey League and Memorial Cup championships in 2008, Peters spent three seasons coaching the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs and then joined the Detroit Red Wings coaching staff.
He was an assistant for Mike Babock in Detroit for three seasons before heading to Raleigh, N.C.
For people who wish there were more hours in the day, spending a bit of money to get rid of onerous tasks would make them much happier, but researchers say very few actually make the investment.
A study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has found buying time makes people happier than buying material things.
UBC psychology professor and study author Elizabeth Dunn said although the idea of being happier by having someone clean your home or do other unwanted chores seems obvious, the study found even small investments like shopping at a more expensive, but closer-to-home, grocery store makes a difference.
Protects from time stress
“Theoretically what we think is that buying time protects people from the negative effects of time stress in daily life,” she said. “When you’re rushing around, feeling pressed for time, that seems to take a bit of a toll on people’s day-to-day happiness.”
Researchers gave 60 people taking part in the study in Vancouver $ 40 to spend on two weekends. The first time they were told to use the money on any material item they wanted.
Researchers surveyed 6,000 people in four countries and found that those who doled out cash to save them time on things such as the meal delivery service seen in this 2014 file photo, were happier than those who don’t. (Matthew Mead/Associated Press)
Dunn said people reported buying a nice bottle of wine, clothes and board games. Researchers then surveyed the group to determine their level of happiness following the purchase of the item.
On the second weekend, participants were tasked to use the money to save them time — such as taking a taxi instead of public transit, have someone mow their lawn, and in one case having a “neighbour boy” run errands.
Better than shopping
Dunn said they compared the group’s level of happiness following both instances of spending, and found people were much happier when they bought themselves more time.
Surprisingly, Dunn said only two per cent of the group reported that they would spend money on things that would give them more time.
“It’s not what comes to mind to people as a way to increase their happiness and the rates at which people are engaging in this type of expenditure are surprisingly low,” Dunn said.
That attitude wasn’t limited to the Vancouver participants.
The study also surveyed 850 millionaires in the Netherlands and found almost half of them don’t spend money to outsource their most disliked tasks.
Many could but don’t outsource
Buying more time requires the means to do so, Dunn said. But a survey of 6,000 people in Canada, the U.S. and Europe showed those who have a bit of discretionary income would benefit from spending it on getting rid of the chores they dread.
The minority of people who do buy time-saving tools typically spend $ 80 to $ 100 a month, Dunn said, adding the study shows even $ 40 can make a difference.
‘Even if you don’t have tonnes of money, using money to get rid of your disliked tasks may be a pretty smart decision,’– Elizabeth Dunn, UBC psychology professor
“People who don’t feel like they’re rolling in dough may feel like that’s a frivolous way to spend money, but what our research is showing is that even if you don’t have tonnes of money, using money to get rid of your disliked tasks may be a pretty smart decision,” she said.
The reason behind people’s aversion to treating themselves to time-savers is unclear. Dunn said her team’s best guess is that people feel guilty spending money on things they could do themselves.
“People may feel like I can do this so I should do this, and so I hope our research helps to break through that perhaps misguided cultural assumption,” she said.
Dunn said her team intends to do a follow-up study to better understand why people don’t spend money to buy time, and see how age, gender, ethnicity or other characteristics play into the reasoning.