Ottawa's the centre of the (basketball) universe, it seems
I believe as I type this, Mats Sundin has not made a decision on his future. In case you were wondering, that is.
We’ve got some restless people up in the nation’s capital, and not just the folks who’ll have to go out on the hustings later this week to get someone elected.
Seems a raft of you Raptor fans are pretty excited and anxious about the impending training camp.
Not much I can tell you, at the moment, but stand by.
I’m told we should hear this week – and this being Wednesday there isn’t much left of this week – about such things as the intrasquad scrimmage that I believe is going to be the afternoon of Oct. 4 and other camp gems.
As far as I can discern right now, they’ll do a media day here in Toronto on Sept. 29, head to Ottawa that night and practice at Carleton for five days before the scrimmage brings an end to the festivities.
A word of warning, though:
If this camp is like any of the other 13 or 14 I’ve been at, there will be very little interaction between the players and fans during the workout days. Nothing will be open, and there’s not likely to be anything scheduled.
Now, if you want to run into a beat grunt or two, I’m sure there are a couple of locals that we’ll turn into locals.
Speaking of training camp, here’s a Bottom Three list of the worst we’ve had so far:
Barrie, 1996: Maybe it had something to do with keeping The VR New (it’s got to be old by now, right?), but we ended up at a then-dreary Holiday Inn off Hwy. 400, they practiced in the mausoleum-like arena there and workouts went for about an hour a day under stern taskmaster Darrell Walker. Suffice it say, fun was not an option.
Buffalo, 2000: Got back from the buzz of the Sydney Olympics on, I believe, a Tuesday and was in Buffalo the next day to watch Vince Carter show off his gold medal. That would have been the highlight because downtown Buffalo in late September is not quite Mardi Gras. Did bring back some nifty red shoes from Sydney that were a hit, and a curiosity to the Buffalonians.
Toronto, 2003: Whoever thought being at home for camp was a good idea was sadly mistaken. Facing 120 days and nights a season in the ACC, the last thing anyone really wanted was another week in the practice gym.
An old friend checks back in with the mail:
Q: Hope the dog days are treating you well. I really enjoyed your Olympics coverage! My question is, out of my three options listed below, which one do you feel is most imperative to the Raptor's success for this season? (I'm not even listing O'Neal, because that's too obvious).
A) Bargs progressing rather than regressing.
B) Calderon being able to play at the same level as last year without having T.J. to back him up.
C) Getting someone other than AP to play decent perimeter defence. (I hear there's a chance that could be Hassan Adams?)
Amanda F, Barrie
A: Dog days indeed. But it’s nice to have a week or two of down time before the carnage hits again.
Of those three, I’d say Bargnani’s play is most important. He can’t afford another bad season because he’s going to be too important to the second unit, which may struggle to score at times.
The other two are significant, especially Calderon’s play, but they need the big guy to be even better than he was in his rookie season if they are going to improve much over last year.
Lots of pressure on the kid, it’ll be interesting to see how he handles it.
And, no, I haven’t heard too many specifics about his workouts this summer and, even if I had, it wouldn’t matter a lick because it’s how he performs in games that matters most.
Lots of cards and letters from folks in Ottawa (haven’t you got an election to worry about or something?) concerning Carleton’s excellent weekend adventure against NCAA schools.
In case you missed it, and many did, the Ravens beat Buffalo, Northeastern and South Alabama and took Kansas to the buzzer in a one-point game.
Helluva good accomplishment. Hardly wins over powerhouses and Kansas isn’t the Kansas of a year ago but still … It does speak highly of CIS basketball and, like I’ve been saying for years, more kids should stay home and play at Canadian schools because they’ll get good competition, a chance to play instead of sitting on the end of the bench regressing at some mid-major school and it’ll develop the game even more in this country.
Sure, there’ll always be the odd Canadian gem who can go to a big-time program and get some minutes but the woods are littered with tales of guys from here who are blinded by the bright lights of the NCAA only to find out they don’t play, don’t fit, don’t like it and don’t get any better whatsoever.
Another dip in the mail:
Q: Hope you enjoyed the long weekend.
Now for a NBA 101 question. How many draft picks for the 2009 draft do the Raptor's have left?
It seems they are always trading away the #1 pick and using their #2 picks to find undiscovered talent.
John P, Fredericton
A: They’ve got their own first-rounder next year but don’t currently have a second-round pick, it went to Detroit in the Carlos Delfino transaction. But, considering how easy it is to add second-round selections, I don’t think that’s a major concern.
And, the fact is, they don’t “always” trade away the No. 1 pick. They did last year, of course, but hadn’t dealt their first-round selection in any of the four previous drafts.
See ya tomorrow. Remember, Friday’s a mail day and we could use some questions.