Fondly (or not) recalling camp fodder
Ooh! and Boy!
New uniforms tonight. Actual basketball players and coaches to talk to. Time in the practice gym. Seems like the season is really just around the corner. Can’t come soon enough.
The mood I’m sensing from the various correspondents we see here in this neck of the woods is anxiousness. And, believe me, when it’s time to talk about playing and coaching and games, I’ll be among the happiest dudes out there.
Just a few more days.
Until then …
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|You want training camp fodder? Scroll down for the top-5 Raptors stories.|
It’s becoming increasingly obvious that there will be no training camp fodder when we get to Ottawa on Monday night.
Haven’t heard a word about any camp invitees; quite the opposite, in fact. In a couple of discussions with People Who Know, the talk is it will just be Sam and His Merry Band of Coaches and the 13 guys with contracts who land at Carleton.
Makes sense in a lot of ways.
Anyone coming to camp couldn’t make the team anyway and any time the staff spent teaching them would take away from the real purpose of the exercise, which is to get everyone on the same page quickly and ready for the season.
Usually, the guys who are added on are there because a GM wants to do a favour for a buddy (getting a client seen in exhibition games is a big plus for someone looking for a D League or a European contract), or for some long-term evaluation that very seldom, if ever, results in a guy with a camp invite ever coming back.
Trouble is, we’ll have no more good (read goofy) stories to do. No more Master P, no more Homicide. No more quirky angles about guys chasing their dreams and fighting through adversity and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
I was trying to think which of the camp invitees was the most obscure, or which was the most colourful and those two – Percy Miller and Corey Williams – come quickly to mind. But here’s a partial list that should bring memories flooding back. Check out these blasts from the past:
Gioannis Giannoulis, one of the first (failed) forays into Europe.
Jacob Jaacks and Kendrick Spruel, signed Oct. 2, 2000, waived Oct. 5, 2000. They knew early they couldn’t play.
Ousmane Cisse (just for the great name)
And soooo many others.
The best year? Might have been 2000, when they brought to camp this illustrious group:
Kornel David (who stuck), Garth Joseph (still a far better story than he was a player), Taymon Domzalski, Curtis Haywood, Jaacks, Spruel and Jeff Sheppard.
That’s a heckuva list, isn’t it?
This year? No one. So sad.
Okay, so what are the big stories heading to Ottawa?
If they had to be prioritized (and I know some of you like to do that), I’d say the top five go in this order:
Starting small forward
Is it Moon? Is it Kapono? What determines it? How they defend? How they shoot? How they interact with the two bigs?
Has he rediscovered his shooting stroke? How much better is he with his back to the basket? Can he defend fours and fives (although he didn’t look bad doing it at times last season)? Is he really bigger?
Bosh and O’Neal
How do they get along on the court? What does Sam have up his sleeve offensively for the two guys with quite similar games?
How does a rookie fit in when he’s going to be asked to play a significant backup role at the most important position on the floor?
There’s a feeling this team could be very, very good if O’Neal and Bosh stay healthy and mesh, as I expect they will. What’s the coach got in his mind, especially offensively, to take advantage of the talent he’s got?
Fun questions, all.
Speaking of fun questions:
Q: What about Ben Gordon in a sign and trade? The raps could send Barg's and Kapono to CHicago for Gordon and maybe Noah. It would work for both sides and give Toronto a wing capable of creating his own shot, which is important for last play scenarios.
Francesco G, Milton
A: Forget about it. The Raptors have no interest in Ben Gordon, never have. They certainly don’t want to pay him what he wants and mess up their long-term financial situation.
I’m not a big Ben Gordon fan, actually; he’s a ball-stopper rather than a ball-mover and he doesn’t really defend that well. He can score, but on this team here, offence isn’t going to be a problem.
Q: Name the three Canadians who’ve been in Raptor training camp.
Answer in a few paragraphs and NO LOOKING.
More mail, with an Italian twist:
Q: Hey Doug, been reading your blog all summer and I'm hooked. First time question here:
Do you think if Danilo Gallinari has a great rookie season (shows more potential/progress than Andrea Bargnani when he was a rookie or as of now), it might spell the end of Andrea's career as a Raptor. I know that your verdict is still out on Il Mago and I agree that he cannot be classified as a bust just yet, but Danilo seems to be built the same as Andrea with same skill set, but is willing to drive more and USE the body. God help the Raptors if the lowly Knicks find more success in Danilo than our Italian magician.
Am I way off? Love to hear your thoughts of Danilo's impact if any on Bargnani's year.
Joseph R, Toronto
A: I don’t think one has anything to do with the other, actually. If Gallinari is better, it will be just more fodder for the fans and the scribblers but it won’t have any impact on what the Raptors do with Bargnani.
Not sure what to make of Gallinari, actually. I keep reading the Knicks have some concerns about a lingering back problem he’s had all summer but I have friends in Italy whose opinion I respect who tell me he’s got it all over his countryman in terms of skill, mindset and determination.
It will be interesting to watch but the problem is, if Gallinari’s back is a worry, it’s going to take some hype off that first home pre-season game here, won’t it?
Wayne Yearwood, Mike Smrek and Rowan Barrett.
Hope you didn’t look.