Creative opportunities abound; and a look at some odd shots
It strikes me that there’s a great opportunity for the coaching staff to do something unique with this Raptors team.
For the first time maybe ever – and certainly in the most recent past – there is a level of versatility at two key positions that should allow them to be creative and stretch their imaginations.
I’m talking about Leandro Barbosa and Linas Kleiza, two very key components to whatever it is this team does this season.
I know Jay’s never had that kind of player at his disposal; it’ll be interesting to see if he can maximize the talents they have.
Barbosa becomes the quickest player Jay’s ever coached and has the ability to break down his man from the backcourt spot with pure speed, an attribute that neither Jose nor Jarrett possess. Think of Barbosa as a bigger, better T.J. Ford.
Jay’s already been talking about a lot of dribble-handoff stuff with Barbosa, I’m sure there’ll be some drive-and-kick action but there have to be many more ways to utilize his talents.
Kleiza? He’s big, strong, mobile and can play both forward positions, another kind of player Jay’s never had to coach.
Can he play Kleiza with Bargnani? Kleiza with Johnson? Or Johnson, Bargnani and Kleiza and put the Lithuanian on the block?
The possibilities really are endless and that’s got to be kind of exciting.
No idea how creative the staff will be but, who knows, it might be fun to watch.
Speaking of Barbosa, as we seem to be a lot lately, I’m sure a lot of you noticed him wearing No. 28 at media day.
Well, don’t go rushing out to grab a jersey yet.
He doesn’t want the number, they’re trying to get it changed (I’m not sure to what, just something different) and they’re waiting to hear from the league.
Barbosa wore No. 10 in Phoenix, which is a non-starter here, but I hope they do something because No. 28 is a stupid number.
(Sorry all you No. 28s out there)
Fooled a few people with the low talker-puffy shirt thing yesterday, I see by the e-mails.
Good for me.
List time, sort of.
So, a Low Level Poobah and I were standing around watching the end of practice, when the players are doing shooting drills and over on the other side of the court, getting up some shots (regular ones, not like the ones detailed here).
He’s got a somewhat unorthodox shooting stroke, to say the least, and it leads LLB to ask, “Worst shooting form ever?”
What the hell is that? Seriously.
Let’s say “unfurl” rather than shoot.
Odd gait, odd stroke, odd fellow.
Sacrilege, I know. But the over-the-shoulder heave isn’t in any textbooks.
Why not add him?
I’m sure there are dozens more and that’s an entirely subjective list rattled off the top of the head.
Anyone got anything else?
And I could use some early-week mail, thank you very much.
Hey, apparently Cito Gaston’s leaving the Jays?
That caught me by surprise.
(I keed, I keed).
Anyway, I have a wee bit of history with Cito, although it was a long time ago.
Way back in the day, I was something of a seamhead at The People’s Wire Service and did a whole lot of baseball in the ’92-’94 era. The first two years were a circus, team was great, media deluge every night, a lot of fun.
Not so much ’94, of course, with the lockout and canceling the World Series and the ridiculous idea to try to start the ’95 season with replacement players.
I did spring training in ’95, at least a little of it, and it was crazy. We’d go over to the local Dunedin High School where regular Jays were working out on their own (I still remember shagging BP fly balls in left field when they needed extra bodies) and we’d have to make obligatory trips to the minor league complex to see Cito, who was trying to manage the replacement team. It was odd, to say the least.
But some nights, a gaggle of grunts (hi, Bear; hi, Larry) would retire to Eddie’s, a Dunedin hot spot and every now and then Cito would walk in.
He was a good man, loved to talk, possessor of strong opinions but willing to engage in conversation.
Those were good nights and I came to quite like him.
I don’t know if the folks who run Canada Basketball will read this (I certainly hope they will) but I’m going to offer this suggestion right now:
They have to re-up women’s coach Allison McNeill.
At the very, very least they have to give her a contract that covers next summer with an option for 2012 if they make the Olympics.
The over-riding impression I’ve got since the women’s worlds started – confirming what I’d thought through the years of doing stories on the team every now and then – is that she’s a motivator, tactician and entirely dedicated to the program.
And you cannot argue with her success. This is the second straight time Canada’s been to the worlds after a 12-year absence; they have a chance to improve on the 10th place finish of four years ago and the team is young and improving.
Makes no sense, none, to make a change now.
Who knew Michael Bolton could be so bitter?
We know there’s some competition for starting spots with this group and it is early days but Jay did give a bit of a hint which way he’s leaning after practice Tuesday morning.
“I would think that Kleiza’s probably not as cemented in as Andrea … (but) we have a pretty good idea of where we want to go.”
That would be as I kind of expected all along, that Kleiza would be one of the starters.