Some random thoughts from last night's opening show, where I coulda swore that was Wade Belak out there waving at another Wizard going to the basket:
Adjective of the night: We'll be checking in from time to time on what's affixed to the Raptors from visitors. For opening night, Eddie Jordan has this one:
"I tell you, Toronto's got a scrappy young team. ... It's a good, scrappy team and we were lucky to get out of it."
(Scrappy, from the Oxford Canadian Dictionary: "1. Consisting of scraps; 2. Incomplete; carelessly arranged or put together; 3. Pugnacious or tenacious"; From Young's Sports Euphemisms: 1. Annoying; 2 Useless; 3 Doomed. See also, "pesky")
|PETER POWER/TORONTO STAR|
|Call his number in crunch time, please.|
The intros: They're all yours, kiddies, I lost interest in this stuff when everyone was using the Alan Parsons Project. Best line I've seen all morning comes from Scott over at Raptorblog: "Matt Bonner is Napoleon Dynamite."
Overused Mantra: It was about three minutes into the broadcast when the mantra started -- they're young, they'll make mistakes. It kept going into the postgame alibis. After one night, it's clear about the only reason to watch this team is for players like Bosh, Villanueva, Calderon, Graham. It isn't about counting down the days till Jalen Rose is packed out, or watching Rose miss an open three or get whistled for a charge (yes, it was a charge, just as surely as Haywood oversold it), or Morris Peterson halfheartedly chasing Chucky Atkins over top of a screen with Matt Bonner waiting like a smiling maitre'd for an escort to the hoop. I thought this was what could reasonably be expected for an opening night from this group: some emotion and raw ability from the kids, little defence (inside, or on the run), very little coaching, narrow defeat. Got a little more than expected out of Calderon, and let's watch his role increase from here -- let's hope, anyway, because Mike James didn't do anything to shout out that the starter's job is his. Should've got a little more out of Villanueva, but that wasn't his fault. Were in position to win, but couldn't close the deal, in part because they never really steadied themselves down the stretch. They'll grab a few of these, though not nearly as many as they lose, over the course of the season.
Second-guessing: Why no timeouts in the final two minutes? What exactly did Matt Bonner do after going in for Villanueva late in the fourth and Wiz up by two? Hey, you heard me, why no timeouts in the final two minutes? When does Bosh get his number called in crunch time? Uh, timeouts?
|PETER POWER/TORONTO STAR|
|Great scream, shame about that last shot.|
Leap of logic: I like Jack Armstrong, but just try and connect the dots here -- "You hear all this talk that the Raptors don't have a centre. You know what -- do the Detroit Pistons have a centre? They just have a dude that brings it all the time, a winner. I'll take Ben Wallace on my team any day of the week."
Eight minutes with Jose Calderon (directly from second-quarter notes, because looking back on 'em it seems to sum up the Raptors' whole night):
High dribble. Frisky.
Decent ball movement with Calderon in, still can't make shots. Defence still horrid: Rose loses Hayes on another back cut. Bosh loses Haywood -- dunk. Arenas blow by CV, he doesn't even wave at him.
Calderon passes out of backcourt trap. Not much conviction from Wiz, but handled okay.
Hayes in transition, dunk. They're just killing Toronto getting down the floor, Raps offence is all jumpers. Oh, Hayes back cut, layup.
Calderon off a Bonner rub, hits j, steals inbounds pass and to MP for layup. Finally, a guy makes a play.
JC def. rebound. Goes baseline on Arenas, draws double, pass to MP open 3 -- good. 7-0 run, it's all JC's doing.
Atkins iso on JC -- let's see what he's got, they're saying -- drive and spin -- charge Wizards. Nice.
Oh, Bonner halfhearted doubleteam -- dunk, Hayes.
JC drive, hurdler's kick and leaning pass around two defenders, MP misses open 3. This guy's doing it. Next up, he gets screen up high, hits a 3.
JC runs screen-roll, flips off to CV popping out for 3. He's lighting it up.
Jamison abuses Rose. Arenas blows by Peterson. Ruffin beats CV to hoop -- foul.
Here's your boxscore.
Best of the rest comes from the Post, Bruce Arthur looks at Jalen Rose (subscription required).
And for a view from Washington, go here.