Raptors are headed to Halifax for training camp.

Dwane Casey spoke after yesterday’s practice, here’s the summary:

  • Two a day practices in effect
  • Defensive focus for the rest of the week
  • Lot of conditioning last night and it showed in their legs
  • The venue change for the practice scrimmage will give a little mental bump
  • Players-only team dinner last night
  • Tempo, energy is up this year compared to previous training camps
  • DeRozan’s attacking more because of his confidence level
  • Kyle Lowry is attacking more because of being in better shape/healthy
  • Tyler Hansbrough and Austin Daye have brough energy and they’re making guys compete
  • Austin Daye brings shooting, he’s a “big time skill guy” – did well to add muscle and strength, not just weight
  • Daye is expected to be one of the better three-point shooters on the team
  • Daye wroked with Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston on footwork, post-moves
  • Terrence Ross is “up and down”, he’s got to bring consistency after a “typical rookie year”
  • Ross’s “up and down” is expected of a player in that stage of his development
  • Doesn’t help Ross when a guy like DeRozan is going at him in practice
  • The minutes behind Gay and DeRozan are wide open – they’re completely up for grabs
  • Bench has to either “hold serve” or outscore the other bench, we can’t have a repeat of last year when that was “our #1 nemesis”
  • There will be times when D.J Augustin and Kyle Lowry will play together – at times, that is

DeMar DeRozan talked as well, recap:

  • Getting better every day and working very hard
  • Trying to set the tone in training camp
  • The two-a-days are easier to take because he’s been playing ball all summer
  • Similarities between this camp and the one from two years ago – lots of defensive focus
  • Got lots of athletes on this team that can play defense

Terrence Ross did the same, recap:

  • Had a great day at camp on Wednesday
  • Two-a-days are much easier now because of the good shape he’s in
  • One lesson from last year is to know to “never take a play off” and focus
  • Time off in the summer helped him relax, unlike the draft year – this year he’s more ready for camp
  • Did a lot of conditioning in the summer so the “wind” wouldn’t be a problem
  • Picked up a lot about Casey’s defense last year and it’s “second nature” now

Finally, Dwight Buycks:

  • Body is sore, everybody’s a little “knocked up, bruised up”
  • It’s a “defensive-minded camp for sure” – says that definitely works in his favour
  • “Everybody from every position is going after everybody which is going to make us better”
  • Defensively, it’s definitely going to be tougher in the NBA, but I’m ready
  • Defense starts with the PG and we can’t be gambling too much because if the PG gets beat, it’s a problem
  • DeRozan and Gay have been vocal and talking, and he’s trying to be vocal too but has got to learn before he becomes vocal
  • Lowry’s a great point guard, they’re definitely competing and making each other better

What did we learn here? Nothing we didn’t already know – Dwane Casey’s having a defensive-minded camp which is much more in tune with his first camp than the one last year, which apparently was far more focused on offense.  We’ve all seen enough training camps to know that at this point it’s all about optimism, paying lip-service, and looking ahead on improving a 0-0 record.  It’s like the beer league team I play in: at the start of the season we’re excited to be there, we talk about how great it is now that everybody will show up for every game and we’ll never have to play 8 v 11 again, how the soul-crushing 8-0 losses are a thing of the past, how we might even not finish last in the league – exciting times, everybody’s awesome.  You don’t need me to tell you how things turn out, and such is the case with the Raptors – let’s play some games to see what we got here.

Tyler Hansbrough appears to be bringing the pain in practice which is to be expected, but I didn’t expect Casey to throw in Austin Daye’s name as one of the guys whose upping the tempo and competing (he’s also added some muscle and strength as well, but who hasn’t?).  The mention of Daye as a “one of the better three-point shooters” took me by surprise until I saw what he shot last year - 42% (career 36%).  I’ll try to dig up the video for all his 3FGAs once I get my Synergy Sports account sorted out.

I have no idea what to make of Ross – so far he’s apparently had one good day out of three, and he’s being chewed by DeRozan a little bit on defense.  I’m curious to know how Landry Fields is faring in all of this and how much of a factor Chris Wright is being at that backup SF.  I think there’s going to be some surprises as both the shooting guard and small forward backup positions.  I’ve already pegged Chris Wright as a surprise to come out on top at backup SF, and I think the only thing that’s keeping Ross in the play at backup SG is that we have nobody else there.  I need to hear some sound bites out of camp where Terrence Ross is dominating a scrimmage or two – that would make me feel a little better about the guy.  And I know interviews aren’t much to go by, but the guy just seems way too chillax.

Finally, I’m not really sure how I feel about MLSE receiving $500,000 from the provincial government for the All-Star game.  I realize the event will generate revenue for the city, but does MLSE really need a handout?

Here’s a quote supporting the funding by Finance Minister Charles Sousa:

“This is the first time ever the NBA All-Star Game will be held in Ontario, and it’s going to provide an outstanding amount of enthusiasm, tourism and full hotels.  Do you know that in Orlando last year it netted $95 million in benefit to local communities? That’s what we’re talking about.”

Here’s one against it from CTF Ontario director Candice Malcolm:

“The government can’t resist handing out money left, right and centre and I guess Maple Leaf Sports couldn’t resist taking the grant. It is a shame because Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment had been a model of not seeking or going after taxpayers’ subsidies.”

I don’t even know why MLSE would accept the relatively pittance sum knowing the potential backlash it might cause, but then again somebody has to pay for Marcus Camby’s buyout.

Till tomorrow.

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