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High praise for Jay Triano is rolling in from all corners, Steve Nash, Pistons front office, Rob Babcock, Sam Mitchell and even U of T’s head coach chipped in with his two cents. As far as I can tell he’s a workaholic with a high basketball IQ who doesn’t know when to stop taking the game seriously. Sounds to me like we got a Jeff Van Gundy brewing right here. The attributes and adjectives associated with Triano so far have been nothing but great, even the Czar chipped in with a compliment on TNT’s Nuggets/Spurs telecast after attending the Raptors practice session in Denver today. According to him, the Raptors were working on ironing out the kinks in their defensive schemes…..good, good…defense is where it starts.

There are things that I’m going to put in over the course of time that will be different defensively, but right now it’s going to be tweaked here and there until we can get comfortable with our personnel and what we think we can do at the defensive end.

That’s great to hear Jay, can you do something about being last in the league in fastbreak points?

Running becomes a mindset and a habit and if it’s not enforced and pushed all the time, it’s easy to walk the ball up the floor. Conditioning, getting up and down the floor is a mindset we’re going to have to try to get instilled in these players. I don’t think we’re going to see 100 shots go up in the first game with these guys, it’s something that is going to take a bit of time.

Wow, do you believe that? This guy’s actually talking tangible and practical stuff rather than lamenting on shats that were oh so close to going in. Let’s not get carried away though, if Triano is such a great basketball mind, how come his supposed skills and knowledge weren’t reflected in the Raptors play for the last few years. Were his skills being properly utilized by Mitchell or was he relegated to keeping track of deflections and hustle-points on the bench? It’s a natural thought: everybody says he’s great + he’s been with the team for what seems like forever + he’s the #1 assistant coach and yet none of his good stuff was seen in any of our play. Sounds to me like Sam might be as poor as utilizing his coaching resources as he was his players.

Before expectations get out of hand here we should realize that Triano is working with exactly what Mitchell was working with. Although Colangelo thinks that the team is better than 8-9, there are many experts out there who beg to differ and make a strong case. I have no idea what Triano’s impact will be but let’s remember that he’s new to this too and has been shoved into a very big role out of the blue. Being an assistant coach and chipping in with suggestions is entirely different than calling the shots and being responsible for the W and L. As an assistant coach you can always hide after the game and avoid the tough questions but not anymore, he’ll now be doing more than just a lame halftime interview with Leo Rautins.

Here are some issues that need immediate addressing, obviously we’ll need to give him some time to learn the ropes but he’ll have to figure things out by the end of December at the latest. If we’re still struggling after that it might be time to take this season to the back and put a bullet in its head:

  • Effort and intensity: Obviously.
  • Dribble-penetration: Either Jose Calderon has to buckle-up or we need to provide him systematic help.
  • Diversifying the pick ‘n roll: It’s not working close to as efficiently as it was two years ago.
  • Transition defense: Decide who hits the offensive boards and who gets back on defense. The ball-watching stops here.
  • Fastbreak points: Last in league with 6 per game. This needs to change, our offense isn’t good enough to play strictly half-court basketball.
  • Drive ‘n kick: An element that has been entirely missing from our offense and was something that was key to our 05-06 success.
  • Fix Jason Kapono: Make him earn at least half his money. Introduce specific plays designed for him and only him. Make dribbling the ball a criminal offense.
  • Free Hump while containing him: Let him loose on the boards but at the same time keep him under control. He can be valuable to us if he controls his urge to make a fool of himself.
  • Get the bench to step up: I don’t know how you get production out of these folk but there has to be a way.
  • Figure out a consistent backup PG rotation. None of this musical chairs BS, pick a guy as your 2nd stringer and a guy as your 3rd stringer, you know, like normal teams.
  • Convince Bryan Colangelo that Joey Graham, Jamario Moon, Hassan Adams and Will Solomon are not cutting it and that he needs to get him some help or he’ll have to do another firing come spring. Gerald Wallace is out, according to Hollinger the little biatch doesn’t want to come here..
  • Add more in the “Raps”.

Chris Bosh was asked how much responsibility the team should take for Mitchell’s firing and he flat out said: “No responsibility”. Then they asked him if the players underachieving resulted in Mitchell’s firing and he said, “No”. It’s a good scrum, Bosh seems very edgy with the reporters and is dismissing the slow start as being not much of a big deal. He definitely sounds positive for a team leader who’s team just got whooped by 39. I like that he recognizes that that the hard-work element has been missing but I do disagree that that was the only change that needed to be made:

The only change that was needed was that we needed to play harder and execute better….and you can’t coach that.

There’s tons more video on the official dot com.

It’s the Jazz tonight and unless you’re brand spanking new to basketball, you know that those guys run like a well-oiled machine and are basically the anti-Raptors in terms of ball movement, execution and discipline. We haven’t won in Utah since 2004 and expecting a win tonight once again falls in the unrealistic category even though they are without Carlos Boozer and possibly without Kirilenko and Harpring who are both game-time decisions. But we’re not necessarily looking for a win, we’re looking to compete and find something to build on. A new coach means a new start and this is essentially the first game of the season for us and I’m expecting some very positive things such as ball movement, off-the-ball movement, smart defense and maybe even something more than a pick ‘n roll.

Somebody already pointed this out in the comments but its funny enough to mention again. Hollinger referred to Jamario Moon as a “defensive ace”. I’m starting to wonder if these “experts” actually watch any of our games. On a similar note, it’ll be interesting to find out who Triano’s favorite players are; who he’s willing to give leeway to and who he’ll have a short leash with. Judging by his talk and his purist basketball philosophy my guess is that he won’t be too fond of Jamario Moon’s lackadaisical attitude. The corollary being that Humphries stands to gain some minutes. I thought I’d never say this but this 8-9 team has some exciting times ahead. They might be depressing at the same time but definitely excitingly depressing.

We got a new poll out which means the results of the old one are here. Apparently the majority of us want to run Popovich’s motion offense, my guess is people love the word “motion” because they’re sick of seeing Jamario Moon exchange jokes with the guy in the first row while the play’s going on.

Tonight it’s another Raptor Fan Friday at Philthy’s and if you haven’t made it out yet, you’re either living 500 miles away or you’re really lazy. It’s a 10:30PM start so we’ll see how it goes. I’ll try to find somebody to do a podcast with me for the post-game show. Maybe another post later….Let’s go you Raps!!!

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