Happy anniversary. And a talk about commitment
Well, at least the soiree was nice.
Fun, fellowship, a story or two, good friends and I was still able to stay in touch with the game a wee bit. Not a bad night, at all.
But that’s not what we’re here for, is it?
We’re here to talk Real Professional Men’s Basketball.
And the Raptors.
Let’s change up the order today; the sameness of the game in Orlando made it virtually impossible to learn much, except that this group has very little heart, next to zero determination and less will some nights than any Raptors team I’ve covered.
Of course, if they beat New Jersey, New Orleans, Detroit, Detroit and Charlotte on a five-game winning streak and some will be singing a slightly different tune but, until then …
All fans wearing black today? As the inimitable Jalen Rose once said, “right down to the drawers?” Why, you ask? Well, if the franchise is finding some reason to “celebrate” a bogus anniversary like 15 years, you should be to “celebrate” the fifth anniversary of, ta-da!!!!!
The Vince Carter Trade!!!
Talk about black days in franchise history. I don’t think there’s been a blacker one. Really.
Yep, five years ago today, we stood stunned in the hallway of Conseco Fieldhouse, waiting to get reaction to the trade.
Jalen, and he’s was in full-on great quote mode, first said, as he walked by us:
“For the first time in his life, Jalen’s speechless”
A bit later, we got something along the lines of …
“When I first heard New Jersey, I figured we had to get Richard Jefferson.”
Thomas Jefferson might have been more like it.
Anyway, we’ve deconstructed that deal far too often, I just wanted to mention the anniversary.
Kind of fitting, isn’t it, that it comes on a week when Toronto sees Alonzo Mourning’s number hanging from the rafters in Miami a night before Vince gets an easy dozen against them for Orlando.
And now, regular stuff:
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
As I mentioned …
It was tough to really concentrate on the game with all the hullabaloo going on around me but it sure seemed that the old “lack of energy” thing got ‘em again.
Now, as you well know, I think Orlando’s the best team in the East and if they played Toronto 10 times now, I’d say Orlando wins eight of ‘em, maybe nine, so the result should not be surprising to anyone.
But the danger sign is still there.
I was talking the other day to someone closely connected to the team, a guy who’s around it an awful lot and someone whose opinion I respect as much as anyone in the game.
What is it, I ask, what’s missing.
One word answer:
It’s committing to doing the right thing the right way on every single possession at both ends of the floor. It’s not easy, and I think if you wanted to you could closely look at every team and every player and see moments of, um, laziness, for want of a better word.
But thing that separates the good teams from the middling one – and 11-17 aside, this is still a middling team right now – is having that commitment more often than not.
And until they get it, not only are they not going to be able to stay close to better teams – like Orlando – and hope for some upset win, they’re not going to be able to beat even lesser-skilled teams.
Sam used to say all the time the more important thing was finding some way, every night, to stay in touch until the fourth quarter and hope someone would make a play to win a game.
This team doesn’t stay close until halftime most nights.
It’s a different look
I think Jarrett Jack’s done a fine job filling in as the starting point guard, he brings a different look to the offence, and the defence.
That said, I’ve noticed in the last two nights a subtle move that seems to take them out of one of their best offensive sets.
Watch him when they run a high screen.
More often than not it seems – and this is anecdotal rather than something backed up with numbers – he’ll “reject” the screen and dribble back into the paint.
Now, that’s a fine move every now and then, especially if the big is showing hard on the other side of the screen because it gets the defence scrambling, but for a set designed for the point guard to turn the corner and either find the big rolling, get an open shooter in the corner, pull up for a jumper or find the big (Andrea) picking and popping for a three, turning back isn’t always prudent.
Little thing, for sure. But something that’s been noticeable the last two nights.
Oh, yeah, he’s a shooter.
I’m standing right under the TV with My Man Perk as the first quarter draws to a close, chatting with him but watching the action rather intently (yes, it was very much a multi-tasking kind of night).
Anyway, last possession, Orlando’s up eight and it’s still a game.
But somehow, as only the Raptors can do I believe, they manage to blow a defensive coverage and leave Ryan Anderson so wide open on the perimeter it’s not even funny.
He catches, is probably stunned that there’s no one really close to him, lines up a three and drills it.
Shocking, but true.
Now, some more junk.
Speaking of bad trades and apples and oranges, how about that Blue Jay trade?
My learned baseball colleagues before and during the fun-fest yesterday were mentioning that maybe it was the best deal Boy GM could have made but, really?
Three guys many have never heard of, one who’s already had Tommy John surgery and a couple of prospects who “might’ be ready late in 2010?
I will tell you this, when Super Son and I venture to the dome, it’s generally planned around a Halladay start and I presume we’re not alone in this.
I’m sure not going to watch Ricky Romero, that’s for sure.
On a positive note, it seems the price of getting murdered in a trade has gone down to $6 million from $9 million, which is the amount the Heroes Of The Hardcourt had to fork out to Alonzo Mourning.
In Orlando, Brian Schmitz summed up the Wednesday affair thusly.
Not only are there just a few mailbag submissions, there aren’t a whole lot outside of the “They should trade everyone. Your thoughts?” type of query.
And since I don’t plan on leaving the house today except for the obligatory journey to Starbucks momentarily, dropping some good questions here might give me a chance to get a head start on the weekend.
Or they’ll give me something to ignore whilst lounging around watching another of the CSI franchise shows, we seem to have usurped Law And Order as the mindless, endless repeat show-of-the-day now.
Think it’s going to be fun around the Air Canada Centre tomorrow night? Back in the day, a Friday night visit by New Jersey and the place would have been buzzing, there would have been some kind of electricity in the air.
Now, it’s a truly dreadful 2-25 team facing one that’s slip-sliding into oblivion if it’s not careful.
If there’s 16,000 people in the joint, given the way the team’s going and the way attendance has been, I’ll be surprised.
But it’s also a Huskies night and another of those “recognition” nights for players of the bygone era.
Tomorrow it’s Muggsy Bogues and I’m sure there’ll be all kinds of wistful memories of the 83 total games he played in Toronto.