A slow start to the weekend
Dead slow around these parts at the moment so this might not be up to the usual high standards. But what the heck, there might be a nugget in here and we’re still “engaging” the lovely readers.
Back tomorrow with mail since I don’t imagine there’ll be breaking news off this afternoon’s practice.
Interesting comment from Jay in a conversation the other day about what’s up for him and the lads now.
With the injuries and schedule they’ve had so far, he remarked that it’s really just the start of things now and he’s got about two weeks to really get things together.
Of course, there’s no Reggie Evans, which is a blow, but with Hedo getting up to full speed, and Antoine Wright seemingly close to returning (I hear he’s going to go full contact today and may play tomorrow) everyone they’re counting on is ready to take part in workouts.
The good thing?
With only two games left and 10 or 11 days of practice (depending on whether or not they take another day off) there would seem to be enough time to get everyone on the same page.
If you ask any coach of any team whether they like to get time in the practice gym or see their teams play meaningless exhibition games, I’d venture to guess 30 would pick practice.
It may not give fans – or even us grunts – much chance to see how things are really coming along but coaches want to be able to work their guys rather than watch them play.
Stan Van Gundy gets whacked for $35,000 for ripping substandard officials.
Larry Brown’s total is $60,000 for his criticism and antics and Lionel Hollins gets hit for a $25,000 fine.
The Orlando, Charlotte and Memphis organizations have to pay a total of $85,000, too.
All because replacement officials – working because the league locked out its regular refs – simply are not good enough.
The fines, to me, seem a bit excessive but a clear signal the league is going to hammer coaches – and players, dare they be critical – quite hard for speaking out.
There is no way in the world that the folks in the ivory tower in New York aren’t aware of the fact these guys, who are simply trying to make a buck and catch a break, aren’t up to snuff.
But stifling legitimate criticism isn’t going to make the games any better. That’s only going to come when the two sides settle this dispute and it better be before the regular season begins.
Why? Because if The Replacements can’t handle the low-intensity pre-season they are going to be even further exposed with the tempo increases starting Oct. 27.
That’s going to be ugly.
I don’t have a dog in this fight, I don’t know for certain whether the league’s being intractable because it wants to send a message to the players about their impending negotiations, or if the refs are simply not willing to take their fair share of the financial hit that everyone’s suffering.
All I know is that this has to get resolved for the good of everybody, mostly fans who shell out huge bucks and deserve to see something other than whistle-filled free-throw shooting contests.
Sitting in a little Streetsville place I’ve frequented, waiting for the first off-season Mighty Yankees coaches meeting to begin, caught more than a few moments of football glory.
The Black Satellites shocked the world, or at least the part of it paying close attention to the Under-20 World Cup, taking out Brazil on penalties.
Some of you may recall my fondness for the Black Stars (who’ve already qualified for South Africa, I believe) and I’m sure the folks in Ghana, transplanted Canucks among them, were over the moon.
That’s some kind of accomplishment.
Here’s the thing about the other night and Houston’s other-worldly 13-for-23 night from beyond the arc.
Yes, it was mighty impressive and has caused an in-box flood of concern over the obviously porous Raptors perimeter defence.
Funny, isn’t it, that through the first five games, when teams shot a collecting 29 per cent from long range against Toronto, there wasn’t a single note lauding them for being able to cover the paint and close out to contest shooters.
The defensive system – clog the middle and deny paint penetration -- is not going to change. It will, however, lead to nights where teams get more good looks from long range than they’d like.
And, if teams make 13 of 23 three-pointers, Toronto is going to lose. Pure and simple. Luckily for them, those nights don’t come around too often.
Friday was the first day off the Raptors have had since the start of training camp up in Ottawa.
A public thank you from a guy who’s been on the same schedule.
Has anyone noticed that Jose Calderon has yet to miss a free throw this pre-season? Another streak starting?