Run Away From Run ‘n Gun

Training camp is so long that it’s already generated one of these posts.

A day after practically every player was waiving the run ‘n gun flag, Triano came out and shut the party down:

Not really, we’re going to look for advantages in transition but we’re not necessarily going to try and be run’ n gun. We got enough guys where we can get the ball from one side of the floor to another and have enough scoring threats out there. I wouldn’t say we’re going to run ‘n gun, we’re going to push the ball probably at the same tempo as last year. We found a way to get hundred and some points a game last year so I don’t think we’re going to change our tempo, it’s not going to be run ‘n gun.

Our fast-break points, our transition points, will be directly related to how well we play defense.

C’mooooon? Please run ‘n gun, it’ll be sooo much fun. We could outscore teams 24-12 on the fastbreak and see at least three or five good DeMar and Sonny dunks. Who cares if we lose 136-112 and give up 56% shooting, we get to see dunks in the open floor!!! This Triano fella is buzz-kill! We even got Barbosa from Phoenix who’s like the one-man fast-break and can take on four guys at a time and finish with a nasty reverse layup. Yeah yeah, he’ll probably only do it once or twice a game and probably when the team’s down by 25 points, but who cares?! We’ll get to see run ‘n gun! YGZ® RUN’NGUN BABIES!!! Even Amir 3000 can run the flank and throw one down on the break, maybe even tear the rim down and use it as a hula hoop?

I hate run ‘n gun, it gives bad teams a false sense of hope about competing and is an extremely difficult style to play, let alone master. For a team that doesn’t have the proper personnel at all five positions, It’s a sorry excuse for basketball and I equate it to taking the easy way out. It’s a glorified form of cherry-picking which only works if you’re Steve Nash or the Showtime Lakers and even they had Kareem and Worthy as their post-players. The only people who get excited from this “brand” of basketball are those who have completely given up hope for this team and just want to get some cheap thrills while we’re at it. Triano’s take on running is the same as last year – he has none. Guess what, every single team in the league “looks for advantages in transition” and tries to generate offense from defense. These aren’t philosophies or strategies, this is just common sense that is somehow being confused for a strategy in Raptorland.

It’s training camp and 90% of these quote are tin-canned, but there is nothing Triano has said so far in the four interviews I’ve heard that indicates that he’s going to coach any different than last year. He’s got the USA basketball experience underneath his belt, which should help some, but not to the degree where he’s going to wake up one day and figure out how to react to game-situations and actually, you know, manage the game. I’m nobody to tell Triano what he should do and his basketball knowledge is a 1000 times greater than mine, but we’re in some serious trouble if he’s bringing the same attitude and strategy to camp this year as last. I can already see him subbing in Jack and Calderon one quarter at a time to maintain the peace.

Bosh is gone so the ball will be spread more evenly, that’s been his general take on things, which again is more common sense and driven by lack of options more than anything else. Part of me just wants him to completely shut up and not disclose a damn thing to the reporters. Just show up on opening day springing some crazy half-court traps, a globetrotter weave, a variation of the triangle with Bargnani in the middle, and a Princeton-cut, now that’ll get me excited. It could still happen, but every time I hear Triano talk it’s nothing but oversimplification.

The purpose of training camp is to have your plays down, get everybody on the same page, get the fitness right and gear up for the season. But for the Raptors this training camp has to mean more than just that, it has to set the tone for the rest of the season and the word that best describes that tone is accountable. Our players need to be held accountable. There should be no confusion on what somebody’s role is and what they are expected to do in the minutes they will be given. It’s pure and simple, if Calderon is out there he’s expected to bolster the second unit with his scoring, if he’s once again choosing to be “unselfish”, it’s a problem and it needs to be nipped early in the bud. If Andrea Bargnani is faking a three and then taking that three? Benched and a five minute talk about why he’s wasting his tools. If Barbosa blows a defensive coverage and then goes into one-on-four mode to make up for it on the next possession, it’s time to put on a dunce cap and sit in the corner.

Some might call it tough love, I prefer discipline, because without discipline a young team can self-destruct in the first quarter of the season. The critics are picking the Raptors 26th in the league for a good reason, they know that the Raptors have some talent, but it’s extremely rare to see a newly assembled young team make a mark early in their time together. For the Raptors to have any success, training camp must preach specifics and role-definition should be brought up before anything else. Once those roles are instilled, they need to be enforced by a coach who’s going to serve as the backbone of the team. When Chris Bosh, Hedo Turkoglu, Jermaine O’Neal, Shawn Marion and others were on this team, the style and play dictated itself, giving the coach an option to take the backseat, which is what Triano did. Now that there is no superstar or even a star around, the coach’s role takes on that much significance. Triano’s every move should be under the microscope because this is a year where he can make amends for the last two by proving himself as a head coach, both tactically and as a motivator.

The last two seasons the Raptors have completely wasted training camp by not taking it seriously enough, and the blame for that lies squarely on the coach – first Mitchell and then Triano. The Raptors cannot afford to make that mistake again, the intensity and seriousness for which to play the game needs to be established right now so it sticks, otherwise we’ll find ourselves in mid-December ten games under .500, wandering game-to-game searching for something that is never going to come. The good and bad news is that the only time in the last three years that I’ve seen a Raptors team completely focused and wanting to win is at this year’s summer league where DeRozan and Weems set out to prove a point. It didn’t matter if they were playing against ten D-Leaguers, they came out and put the hammer down every game, you couldn’t read much into the results, but I loved the attitude.

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