Not unexpectedly, most of the crowd-pleasing came from the ultra-athletic duo of rookie DeMar DeRozan and newcomer Sonny Weems who put on quite a show for the Ottawa fans, while Reggie Evans continues to look like that blue-collar, hard-working, lunch bucket type of player Raptors fans love to embrace.
DeRozan led all scorers in the game with 13 playing on the losing Grey side, one more than Marco Belinelli who lead the victorious Black squad with an even dozen.
Evans came just as advertised playing tough interior defence and pulling down a game-high 13 boards for the Black squad.
"This is a blessing, it’s an honour to be in a position like this," Evans said afterward. "(The support) just lets me know how hard I’m working and stuff like that."
Sure there was plenty of talk about talking on defence last year and even a few games where the Raptors did get vocal, but nothing close to the way Jack communicates.
It’s non-stop chatter and every syllable is uttered with a definitive purpose.
“I think talking is contagious and it has to start with somebody,” said Jack of his vocal verbosity. “The position I play, I think it comes with the territory. It just helps to put people in the right place. Instead of seeing it and pointing, if they don’t see your initial point, it’s lost. Being vocal and directing people is just easier. Everybody is on the same page. Once you start talking, then they will talk.”
Jack isn’t trying to re-invent the wheel here. It’s an obvious point but one that this team hasn’t really taken to heart in the past.
Jack allows that doesn’t make the Raptors unique.
"Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie" they chanted after one particular aggressive series and the Raptors’ power forward loved it. After all, the fans paid money, so why wouldn’t they get the best he had to offer?
"It just lets me know how hard I’m working and stuff like that," he said after the Raptors wrapped up their five-day foray here for training camp with a game amongst themselves.
"Right now, we’re going through a recession, so people are trying to do whatever it takes to be in a positive way. … A lot of times when they come to the game, they at least want to see hard work.
"No matter if you win or lose, they want to see somebody going real hard because they’re working hard to earn a living just so they can come to our games."
That’s the kind of attitude that is not only going to endear Evans to the team’s fans, but it will make him wildly popular with his teammates and coaches.
"Going to that school made me a well-rounded person," Wright said in an interview. "Being there with international students and getting a taste of what life’s like on the other side of the world really helped me."
Aside from giving him an opportunity to develop his basketball skills – skills that would take him to college at Texas A&M and leave there as a first-round NBA draft pick – the prep school taught Wright the importance of a well-rounded life.
He couldn’t slide by academically because he was an athlete. He had to be a student.
"Coming from the type of neighbourhood I was in, I don’t think those kids are given a fair opportunity to make it and succeed in the classroom," he said.
"One thing I learned by going to the private school is just how important an education is and how it separates you from the rest of society.
"I think people put basketball before education. Me going to that school, I really had to prove to my peers and the faculty that I was there to learn and basketball was secondary."
Jay Triano‘s to-do list is long. There’s no way the head coach has even made a true dent in it after just a week of work.
"There is no way we can get it all in right now," he said after the team scrimmaged in Ottawa yesterday. "Training camp is really the month of October. We don’t really have a last-second, side-out-of-bounds play, we don’t have that kind of stuff in now.
"We’re just trying to get our guys up and down. If we stop and try to show guys stuff like that, we don’t get the conditioning in."
The most memorable play of the game? An alley-oop from Banks to DeRozan, the rookie who looked absolutely ecstatic to finally be playing in front of some fans. He finished with a game-high 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting, many of which were dunks.
"He had some rough days but that’s natural for anyone who is in their first NBA training camp," coach Jay Triano said of DeRozan. "I think the ability he has to get to the basket at times was taken away in a lot of our practices, but he seemed to find his way to the basket this afternoon which was good. He’s going to learn and the consistency will be the big thing."
They just need their core group of players – Andrea Bargnani, Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon and Hedo Turkoglu – to stay healthy while successfully merging in all of the new faces into Jay Triano’s system. If that happens look for the team to have a successful season and have a chance to cause some noise in the playoffs.
If any combination of those players goes down for an extended period of time due to an injury or Triano’s offensive and defensive philosophies doesn’t mesh with the current group of talent the team could be in for yet another long season.
For the second straight year the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association opened its training camp at Carleton University’s Ravens’ Nest. For the second straight year the Raptors held their annual Black/White scrimmage, at Carleton University, and donated a cheque for $15,000.00 to the Adopt-A-Raven Program. The Adopt-A-Raven program provide much needed enhancements to Carleton University’s 19 Varsity Teams, including travel funds, international tours, program/equipment improvements and overall student-athlete development.
This past week the interviews with and about Jay Triano should bring a measure of confidence to Raptors fans about this year’s team.
Discussions about classroom settings, video assisted teaching using tape from practice sessions, and a focus on defense first all speak volumes about how this Raptors team will be different.
Gone should be the images of a coach who was all about emotions and motivation but couldn’t seem to get a simple in-bounds play to succeed when needed. Jay Triano has the Xs and Os down pat.
Going to do some more in depth stuff for next week. However as I sit here still pretty blown away at the entire experience here are 10 things that pop in to my tried brain based on what I saw in Ottawa.
Now, as I was reading the latest report from training camp, something occurred to me. Reggie Evans IS Rudy. He’s an undersized power forward who can’t shoot a lick and has almost no offensive ability, but I’m sure the coaches would love to put his heart in the body of a few of the Raptors. I mean, the guy doesn’t seem to give up, especially going after rebounds. In practice, Reggie has been going after Andrea Bargnani so hard on defense that Bargnani is having to prepare for it more, and is playing harder and tougher.
Tags: andrea bargnani, Antoine Wright, basketball, Chris Bosh, Demar DeRozan, Hedo Turkoglu, Jarrett Jack, Jay Triano, jose calderon, marco belinelli, Marcus Banks, NBA, Reggie Evans, Sonny Weems, toronto raptors