Morning Coffee

Toronto Raptors Morning Coffee Oct 11

“Shootaround’s a lot tougher than in the past,” said Reggie Evans, the eighth-year NBA forward. “We’re just going hard. A lot of banging. It’s totally different than anything I’ve seen.”

Toronto Sun

Triano said he had yet to run even one play for an individual in the lineup.

“Everything we have run has been movement based and trying to get everyone involved,” Triano said.

“We will add things for (Andrea) Bargnani and specifically for (Leandro) Barbosa and (Linas) Kleiza but we haven’t put in anything that is not movement based — yet.”

Triano’s goal is to have defences moving as much as possible prior to an actual shot at the basket.

“We are still doing a lot of high screen and roles but a lot of it is coming at the end of plays instead of just coming down and letting teams set up as you go into it,” Triano said. “That’s what European teams do. They don’t come down and go high screen and roll. They come down and it’s move, move, move, and then high screen and roll. That’s what we’re trying to do and if we can do it, we’ll be a lot better team.”

Triano also continues to hammer home the need for his players to be accountable and he is showing he’ll use this pre-season to drive home that point.

“I took guys out throughout the whole game (against Boston on Sunday) because of mistakes,” Triano said. “We have to teach these guys we’re going to hold them accountable. It’s pre-season and we have to send some messages.”

Toronto Sun

the lasting memory Jack will have of this game and what he hopes his teammates take from it is that the Raptors no longer have to come into this building and wilt at the sight of a Kevin Garnett or a Paul Pierce or a Ray Allen — or anyone else in Celtic green.

Jack has only been a member of this the Raptors for one full season but he distinctly remembers coming in here last year and leaving feeling like he had just been patted on the head by an older brother after a beatdown.

One of those “Nice try kid, now run on home to your momma.”

“I’m just glad guys didn’t back down,” Jack said. “I’ve only been here a year but in the past it seemed like those guys would just impose their will on us. We would just kind of put our hands up and back pedal a couple of steps. Today, I thought we stood there, We fought hard.

“It’s obvious just looking at them they’re probably the biggest team in the league. We’re very undersized compared to them but I thought we kept fighting.”

The Raptors even drew first blood for those counting at home as Glen (Big Baby) Davis left in the first quarter with a tissue staunching the flow of blood from his nose after a collision with Raptors centre David Andersen.

As much as any team can learn anything about itself from a meaningless pre-season game, Jack said the competitiveness he saw up and down the bench, particularly after such a laboured start to the game, gives him hope.

“I thought our competitiveness kept us in the game,” Jack said. “If that is the one thing we can bring to the table every night, I think we’ll be all right.”

Toronto Sun

Bullies get a bad rap, but in basketball, they are often important parts of a team.

Veteran Reggie Evans has long been considered that type of player and he has been joined in Toronto by young Joey Dorsey.

Though the bruising Dorsey has an unguaranteed contract, management likes what he provides – and his teammates do too.

“(Dorsey’s) a bully, a boss,” said close friend Sonny Weems.

“He really doesn’t care about scoring. His focus is rebounding.”

Dorsey followed up a strong summer league campaign with 13 points and 10 rebounds in 18 minutes against Phoenix last Wednesday.

Weems hopes Dorsey sticks around and becomes a contributor like he did.

“I was in the same situation … they almost sent me to the D-League,” Weems said.

“He’s really fighting for playing time like I was last year that’s why I talk to him, try to keep his head up.”

Toronto Star

While the coach has been all too happy to criticize the departed Turkoglu and Bosh in hindsight, he scarcely held either to account while last season was still theoretically salvageable.

Raptor fans can only hope that, lessons learned, he won’t make the same mistakes this year. And barely two weeks into pre-season training, Triano’s reputation as a pliable pushover is already taking some serious hits.

Consider the way the Raptors spent the hours leading up to Sunday’s 91-87 exhibition loss to the Celitcs. For the second time in two game days, they turned their morning shootaround into a full-contact practice, complete with taped ankles and all-out sprinting and maybe a raised eyebrow or two.

NBA shootarounds, after all, are typically sleepier affairs than the pair of workouts Triano has presided over before his club’s first two exhibitions. There is usually, on the typical game-day morning of the typical NBA club, some jogging and stretching and half-speed run-throughs of various plays. There is usually some shooting around. There isn’t usually any call for game-speed grinding.

But Triano isn’t making any apologies; he reasons that, with his players playing a maximum of 25 to 27 minutes in these glorified rehearsals, they can certainly afford to put in an honest hour of work in the morning. And the players, although none of them can remember participating in such a high-pitched day-of-game session, aren’t complaining, at least publicly.

“Shootaround’s a lot tougher than in the past,” said Reggie Evans, the eighth-year NBA forward. “We’re just going hard. A lot of banging. It’s totally different than anything I’ve seen.”

So much work at such an early hour certainly would not sit well with a more veteran NBA team (although the Raptors aren’t exactly brimming with rookies). And it will be interesting to see how long Triano keeps demanding the game day sweat-fest. Triano said he won’t put his team through such a tough workout before Tuesday’s game in Chicago because the Raptors play the next night at home against Philadelphia. He also said — contrary to the assumptions of the players who figure these workouts are strictly an October phenomenon — that he wouldn’t rule out using a shootaround as a hard practice during the regular season.

Toronto Star

Yes, Andrea Bargnani has had two bad games in a row where he can’t make a shot, isn’t defending with aggression and looks out of place.

No, that doesn’t mean they should trade his sorry butt today, it means that he’s had two bad pre-season games in a row.

Wait ‘til he’s had two bad regular season games in a row before you start the tar-and-feather campaign already being waged.

You have to figure it’s going to take him longer to get used to the new things this team wants to do. Stuff like run a lot of early motion in the offence, swarm guys defensively and show-and-recover off double teams and screen-roll defence.

It’s not that he can’t do, it’s just that it doesn’t play to his strengths and it might take all eight pre-season games and all those practices for him to figure it out.

So, yes, he’s been bad so far. But there’s an awful lot of time left.

Silverback Gorillas

The knock on Toronto is that they have invested too much time and effort in scouting international type players as opposed to just scouting legit NBA players that could potentially help the team improve. During the past two seasons, the Raptors organization has built a team to get up and down the floor, fire a few three points shots and feed the big man inside. Bryan Colangelo tried to recreate the run and gun Phoenix Suns team that we saw play during the past five years but failed.

Colangelo looked to exploit Chris Bosh’s talents by surrounding him with shooters and a legit point guard; the same way he did with Amare Stoudemire out in Phoenix years prior. Mind you, the Raptors were a team without a great playmaker (they struggled to get the right players to take bulk of the shots, because you know, Jose Calderon is not Steve Nash) while their whole identity revolved around their offense. The music equivalent of this would have been to put Nate Dogg, T-Pain, Lil’Jon and Pitbull together and then ask them to make a successful rap album. It could never work because they are all artists that shine when they are asked to complement great lyricists. But if asked to carry an album together without a dominant artist, they are destined to fail. And for the most part, that’s what happened to the Raptors. They would put up a lot of points but were unable to get them when it truly mattered late in games.

The biggest issue the Raptors have faced in the Colagenlo era though (especially last season) is the team’s lack of toughness. The team never picked up any enforcer type players to help protect their best players and also discourage opponents from driving the lane. Consequently, the Raptors were bullied often last year. And although this is a new team with the departure of Bosh, can you truly say that the roster has changed?


The Raptors lost their star player in Bosh when he bolted for sunny Miami and this is a team that will more than likely be taking a step back from the 40 games they won last season. They were aggressive this offseason to bring in some players to help the team like Barbosa and bringing back Kleiza who was playing in Europe. They have some nice solid players and are built like a Euro team for the most part and they are going to be hard to predict by I will try. My prediction for the Raptors is around 33 to 36 wins and maybe fighting for the last spot in the playoffs but I think that is a longshot.

Beleaguered Toronto Sports Fan

I’ve heard the 2010-2011 Toronto Raptors described (along with other mots du jour) as a puzzle.  Despite my bias toward pessimism, I love the puzzle motif.  When you say the word puzzle, it implies that the right pieces to complete it exist; it’s just that you haven’t figured out what they are or what to do with them.

Every new season brings new catch phrases.  Conveniently enough, they usually address issues and ineptitudes from the previous campaign.  Last year it was “toughness”.  The acquisition of Reggie Evans was a token effort by the organization to bolster what was widely regarded as a soft team, particularly on the interior.  Of course, Reggie wound up being the most beloved plain clothes Raptor in the history of the franchise.  And when he finally shed the over-sized sports jacket in favour of a Raptors jersey, he mistook fan adulation for a licence to shoot bricks.

This year I’m hearing about ‘intense’ practices and the insertion of improved  ’defensive schemes’.  That’s the flavour of the month, and really, it was inevitable that the spin would trend in these directions. Why shouldn’t it?

When I hear about how ‘intense’ some players have been in practice, why should I roll my eyes?  Until I see otherwise, I want to believe that things will be different.  I want to believe that this ramshackle assembly of players are playing with a collective chip on their shoulders and are competing within to prove that they deserve minutes and deserve to be taken seriously against more marquee ready NBA lineups.

FOX Sports

"What we did a couple of times is try to hit guys to make them give it up and then not let them get it back," Triano said after the Raptors worked out at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday. "A guy like (Phoenix’s Steve) Nash, a guard who controls the game, if you can double-team him and make him give it up … that’s not what they want to do.

"We’re not really pressing – we’re not playing 94 feet – but we’re trying to be strategic about where we are (on the floor) and how we do things."

Triano also knows it can’t be a staple of what the Raptors do. It has to be a tactic strategically employed.

"A lot of times you have to do it based on small things like where everybody else is on the floor," he said. "If you run two guys at a guy and they throw it over your head, it’s four against three and the NBA’s too good (to get away with that).

"We have to be strategic with who we hit off of and who we hit with."

Raptors Digest

The biggest impact Alabi will have this season will be in practice where he will be able to hone his skill on the offensive end and add some ferociousness to his game via Reggie Evans and Joey Dorsey.

Alabi projects a solid backup center in the future but he has the upside to be a defensively dominant starter in this league that averages 11, 11 and 2….a stat line like that is likely 3 or 4 years away from realization but it is great to know that we have depth with this kind of upside.

Raptors HQ

The concerning thing though for me wasn’t that Andrea only scored 4 points, it’s that DeRozan, Weems, Jack and Barbosa all attempted more shots.

Yes, if your shot isn’t falling, give up the rock, but watching Andrea closely last night you saw a player who was getting the ball in positions that weren’t exactly ideal for scoring most of the time, nor did it look like he was comfortable knowing where his offence was going to come from.

I’m hoping therefore some of this malaise will work itself out as the team continues to play more games.  Because if not, it’s hard not to think that there’s credence to the theory that instead of playing in Bosh’s shadow, Chris actually made the game easier for Andrea.

And that’s not good.

Toronto put up a ton of points against Phoenix but last night’s game to me, pre-season or not, was what I expect the average Raptors’ match to be like this coming season; the defence is decent enough for the team to hang around, but the club has trouble scoring enough to get the win.

And that’s why it’s crucial that "Il Mago" gets going.

The same can be said for some of the other Raptors like DeRozan and even Amir Johnson.  These guys are expected to have major impacts on the court and as a whole that just didn’t happen last night.

Amir swatted

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