The Lemanis era ends short on medals, but full of promise

Australian basketball fans are still reeling from a Wednesday morning Woj report, revealing that Brett Brown would be taking over the Boomers for Tokyo 2020. There is a lot to unpack, as soon as the dust settles.

Only months ago the Boomers' group was labeled the 'Group of Death' with fans concerned over their chances to survive the first phase. Guess what, folks? The Boomers finished fourth in China. To now hold his record against him is disrespectful to what he was able to achieve.

Yes, the Lemanis tenure will only ever be judged upon medal success at major tournaments, and yes, the Boomers came up short in the highest of profiles of those, both in Rio 2016 and the recent Worlds.

Yet think back to 2016 and the Boomers were the toast of the world, showered with praise over their selfless style of play, and the nerve to take it up to Team USA at the Olympics. A 10-point loss at Carioca Arena, followed by a rousing dismissal of moral victories by Andrew Bogut, only served to stoke the embers of a bold new era of Australian basketball.

We tend to focus so much on the end result that we often fail to appreciate the process.

Some perspective for us self-indulgent armchair critics: Despite the heartbreak of missing out on a bronze medal in Rio, the Boomers had shifted their entire culture and psyche. There was optimism, they proved to themselves that they were in it to win it.

With the promised influx of "NBA players" into the program, the glaring spotlight would only intensify.

Here's some more perspective: Lemanis has undoubtedly presided over two consecutive fourth-placed finishes that were a hair from winning Australia's first international men's basketball medals.

Never mind the on-again/off-again commitment of the team's future leader, Ben Simmons. Never mind the last-minute withdrawal of Jonah Bolden. Never mind the absence of Ryan Broekhoff, or the unavailability of Thon Maker. Never mind the tension-filled, high stakes moments against Spain and France that were the actualisation of a coin flip.

Show me a flawless coach who aces every high leverage moment - I'll wait.

In the lead up to the world cup, when researching a piece about the Boomers' own golden generation, something Andrew Bogut said stuck with me. Bogut acknowledged that there would be pressure to capitalise on this era and deliver a medal, yet there was a wariness - you never know how you stack up until you hit the court. "You never know" (and I paraphrase here) also refers to the strength of the opposition.

Whilst the Boomers were in the midst of a Golden Generation, maybe, just maybe, the rest of the world had also improved. Things don't operate in a vacuum.

Sure, there are perceived missteps. An almost mythical selection camp remains contentious for some.

It was a camp in which the untried Xavier Cooks - unfortunately injured - outduelled Mitch Creek; a camp in which Nick Kay cemented a forward spot to much outside surprise; and a camp in which Brock Motum, veteran Boomer, could not crack the squad.

Some still can't let go of the selections of Cam Gliddon, Nathan Sobey and Dave Barlow, particularly when none would register much action.

I am not so sure that alternative selections to the fringes of the roster would make a difference - we are talking about hypothetical margins here.

My mind goes back to a Joe Ingles comment at the postgame press conference after their win over Senegal, as a question was posed about the contributions of the Boomers' non-NBA group.

"I think it shows we picked the right players, right?" he said, almost snickering. "After all the articles that came out about picking the wrong team."

I don't know, Joe. I honestly don't. Would the Boomers' campaign have ended any differently? Who knows? That's not the point.

Again, nothing happens in a vacuum. There are no guarantees in life - only opportunities.

In that, Lemanis coached the Boomers to the final four in two consecutive major tournaments - the Boomers had opportunities.

Those intensely screeching for a coaching change, or an "NBA coach", to engage the Boomers' best talents now appear to have finally got their wish.

The charming, friendly Brett Brown will, at the very least, lift the collective mood of a squad that came so close yet again. His presence may galvanise emerging talents. Barring injury catastrophe, Ben Simmons should commit to the fold and raise the ceiling of the Boomers. Brown may even coax Bolden back into donning the Green and Gold.

He will be handed the reins to the most gifted Australian basketball squad in history. I hope Brown leads the Boomers to a historic medal - I hope he becomes the Boomers' greatest ever coach. I really do. But for any who dismiss the legacy of Lemanis so easily - so soon - frankly, reeks of disingenuous nit-picking.