Triano has been pleased with the aggressiveness shown by Andrea Bargnani.
"He’s been more of a physical presence," Triano said. "(There were) a couple of times in camp when he got the ball in the post, turned and just went right to the basket. In the past, he would look to put it on the floor and settle for a shot."
Triano believes Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack will complement each other the way Calderon and T.J. Ford did when they played together during the 2006-07 and ’07-08 seasons.
However, Triano has to be aware that too much of a good thing sometimes can backfire.
Not that he foresees any problems, but there were occasions when Ford expected to start over the team’s supposed No. 1 point guard, Calderon, and that resulted in some controversy.
Whether that happens with Calderon and Jack remains to be seen but Jack, who has proven to be a capable starter when he gets the chance, is not about to make any demands or suggestions as who should start at the point, or which roles he and Calderon should play.
Triano interview (video)
Iavaroni, whose concentration on the defensive aspect of the game is intense, was impressed last week in Ottawa with Bargnani’s ability to defend off the ball, to be in the right spot and make the right play to help.
It’s maybe shading off his man by another 10 inches or so, anticipating a play before it happens, being in sync with teammates and the club’s basic principles.
Bargnani is not perfect at it – nobody in the league really is – but he’s good enough that the guy who’s dealing with the team’s defence said it was perhaps the biggest surprise he got about Bargnani’s game during the first week of work.
All it’s taken is time.
"There is no way to learn it fast, it’s something you cannot practice one-on-one with the coaches," Bargnani said Sunday after the Raptors went through a drill-laden practice at the Air Canada Centre.
"You just have to get used to it with the playing time."
It’s going to be a skeleton crew the Raptors take to London, Ont., to open the pre-season. Not only aren’t Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu (photo) going to play against Philadelphia, knee woes are likely to keep swingmen Antoine Wright and Sonny Weems at home. Both Wright and Weems sat out practice Sunday (Wright due to a sore right knee and Weems with a sore left one). "If they’ve got little nicks, I don’t know if it’s worth putting them in a jeopardizing position right now," said coach Jay Triano. "Both got hit, clipped in practice. It’s not a wear and tear thing as much as it is a bang."
A level of truculence?
A bit of bellicosity?
Jay on Bargnani:
“There were a couple of times during camp where he got the ball in the post and he turned and he just went right to the basket. In the past, he would look, put it on the floor maybe once and settle for a jump shot thinking, ‘I don’t want the contact.’
“I think he’s got a lot of confidence in his strength and his physical ability now that he actually looks for contact when he drives to the basket.”
Quick, call the pucks, they could use all the help they can get, I hear.
Now, I’ll wait until I see it in actual games before I’ll truly believe it because the kid has had a way of shying away from the heavy lifting in the past.
But there really is something kind of new about him.
He’s more engaging with us (I had the longest, off-the-record, just-chewing-the-fat conversation with him in the doorway of the practice gym yesterday than I’ve had in total in the three years he’s been here) and he seems far more comfortable with his teammates and himself than he’s been in the past (goofing around, being in the middle of things rather than off to the side watching).
On the court, he’s passing up shots to swing the ball, he’s playing smart defence and he’s mixing it up on the block.
Again, it’s early and it may mean nothing. But to the coaches, it’s a pretty promising sign of good things to come.
"I didn’t like the fact that I thought we fatigued a bit, whether it was the length of the scrimmage or the length of the number of two-a-days and all of that piling up," Triano said yesterday after the team’s first practice in the Air Canada Centre. They had spent five days in Ottawa, culminating with a scrimmage on Saturday.
"I didn’t like the fact that our point guards went ahead of the play. I didn’t like the fact that our bigs stopped running and our wings didn’t get down to the baseline. We started taking shortcuts."
It is nice to hear some straight talk after a week of nearly constant sunshine. But it is hardly all doom and gloom around the Raptors as they prepare for their first pre-season game tomorrow night against Philadelphia in London, Ont. The team is producing mostly good vibrations.
After talking with Colangelo during the Raptors media day it became painfully clear the Raptors front office and coaching staff don’t share the same concerns as fans and some members of the media.
“He’s 30 and there was no concern about his age,” Colangelo blurted out before the reporter could even finish his question about whether the general manager was worried about Turkoglu’s age. “I had no concerns about giving Steve Nash a five or six-year deal at the age of 30 and he far exceeded anybodies expectations.”
That’s the kind of statement that will grab the attention of Raptors fans. Heck, it will probably grab the attention of any basketball fan in Canada.
Everything seems to be sunny above Lake Ontario right now after Bryan Colangelo shook up the roster in hopes of making Bosh feel good about a long-term stay.
Former Orlando forward Hedo Turkoglu signed on, while Jarrett Jack arrived from Indiana to play two guard.
Then again, defense could be a big issue for the Raptors if they play a front line of Bosh, Turkoglu and Andrea Bargnani.
Neither Bosh nor Bargnani is much of a center, which is why Colangelo brought back Rasho Nesterovic after a one-year absence.
The bottom line seems to be if the Raptors return to the playoffs, Bosh will stick around. Toronto is a great city, after all.
If the Raptors miss the playoffs again, Bosh is liable to roam, with the Bulls and Miami likely destinations.
Chances of leaving: 50 percent
The Raptors were labeled “soft” in the frontcourt these past seasons, as with Bosh and Bargnani, the Raptors lacked a powerful body down low, but still both players have other qualities that can compensate that. Bosh is one of the more efficient and effective big men in the NBA. He can score on the block or he can step back and fire away from the perimeter. Also his 80% from the charity stripe is a rarity in this league for a big man. Bosh has been consistent throughout his career by averaging at least 22 points and approximately 10 rebounds per game each of his last four seasons. His 2003 draft teammates Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade have already shined in the postseason, while Bosh has never gone further than the first round of the playoffs, so he will enter this season hungry for some success.
So what do the Raptors have to do to have the 6th best defense in the league?
1) They will have to play their best defenders Jarrett Jack, Antoine Wright, Reggie Evans, Rasho Nesterovic for a lot of minutes while limiting the bad defenders (Calderon, Bargnani) to fewer minutes.
2) The players has to be extremely disipline, tough and trust one another.
3) The team will have to sacrifice certain things like offensive rebounds so that they will always have 4 men running back to defend. Limiting opponent’s fast break oppurtunities.
4) Slow the pace down (similar to point 3)
Best Case Scenario:
Andrea’s game improves. He plays tough and he plays strong defense. His confidence continues to sky-rocket as he begins to look like a seasoned veteran. There’s even talk of an all-star appearance.
Rasho plays like Rasho. He doesn’t show signs of age. He continues to be the stable, defensive force he ’s always been.