A big week when nothing should happen
Okay, after three games in three nights in three cities with about 1,000 more kilometers, it’s going to be nice to have a couple of game-free days here.
And it might give me a chance to get some other stuff in here.
Until then …
An important man
I say this only partially in jest but the most important man in the Raptors organization this week could very well be Ed Stefanski.
The jesting part comes because I know Bryan does really believe in his plan, which is to see how this season unfolds without jeopardizing a summer when he’ll have lots of money to spend – depending on whether they use the amnesty clause and which free agents they renounce they could have between $10 million and $20 million go and spend.
But I also know Bryan well enough to realize that the art of the deal is something he’s quite fond of and I know he’ll at least be exploring stuff to get involved with. He can’t help himself, we always joke, and it’s a bit true.
However, even with Jose out and the struggles that will mean and with a team absorbing losses at a rapid rate, Bryan needs to spend this week taking a series of deep breaths and wondering what next season might look like with Valanciunas, a free agent or two, the core guys he’s got now and another high draft pick.
I don’t know precisely where these guys will be spending every waking hour between now and Thursday but wherever Bryan is, Ed needs to be.
A key bad stretch
It’s just before halftime against the Bucks and the lads are rolling a little bit and then they have one of their patented mental hiccups that kind of changes the momentum of the game.
Bucks, down eight, get the ball back with about 22 seconds to go and are holding for the final shot.
The Raptors have a foul to give and almost the entire bench is up yelling “zebra, zebra, zebra,” which is Raptor code to give the foul, a move they’d like to make with about five seconds, maybe four, to go.
So, of course, they don’t give the foul intentionally when they should – although there was all kind of opportunity – and the Bucks end up with an old-fashioned three-point play (oh, Toronto fouled, but at the wrong time in the wrong manner on the wrong guy) and go into the half feeling pretty good about themselves.
And Dwane’s pulling his hair out.
A slow return
We’ve seen on the weekend just how much rust can build up on a guy during 20 games off, aren’t we?
While there were glimpses of the Andrea Bargnani we saw early in the season, he’s not nearly himself nor up to game speed. Some good moves, looks okay in short bursts but it’s going to probably take the rest of this week for him to get truly comfortable.
And it looks like it’s going to take as much time for the rest of his teammates to get used to having him back, too, because he was far too uninvolved in the offence for anyone’s liking.
Look, we know that Michigan has been hard hit by the economic downturn because of its reliance on the auto injury and you can imagine how many businesses are offering all kinds of sales incentives to attract customers.
Well, this one floored me when the Smelly Ford Focus was motoring down the highway sometime Saturday with the radio blaring.
Seems there’s a big two-for-one sale going at – get this! – a cosmetic surgery clinic.
Come for the liposuction and we’ll throw in a nose job.
Rid yourself of the laugh lines and we’ll toss in a tummy tuck.
Oh yeah, Rick came by to shoot some photos and this is what he came up with.
Hey, it’s March Break, watch out for the urchins scrambling about the neighbourhood, would you?
Now, I know there going to be all kinds of compelling stories that come out now that the March Madness field is set. There will be tales of drama and perseverance and fighting through any number of personal tragedies and difficult situations.
None may be as cool as the one about St. Bonaventure, which got into the tournament by winning the Atlantic 10 conference title when Mississauga’s Andrew Nicholson had a game for the ages – 26 points, 14 rebounds, eight blocked shots.
Anyway, for a guy whose first memory of NCAA basketball might be the old Little Three and Bob Lanier at Bona and Calvin Murphy at Niagara and whoever Canisius had, makes me feel good to see a program that was almost in ruins for using an illegal player almost a decade back return to the tournament for the first time in more than a decade.
And Nicholson? Well, when I did a little tiny Canadians Who Might Get Drafted thing a few weeks ago, scouts had told me he could possibly sneak into the bottom of the first round of the NBA draft; I’m sure those chances have increased exponentially of late.
Okay, I need to get to the Tall Foreheads and find out just want they want from a request a week ago asking me if I’d fill out a March Madness bracket to go along with one done by C. Kelly.
No clue if they want mocking or legit or what; I hope they’re okay with total guesswork because I’ve seen about zero college games from start to finish this year.
Stay tuned, this may end up being a hoot.
To the surprise of no one, Carleton wins the CIS title going away, rolling over Alberta in the gold medal game.
It’s eight wins in 10 years for the Ravens and it’s got to do two things:
It cements them as one of the all-time dominant Canadian university programs – not sure where I’d rank them compared to the old Victoria team, it’s too hard to compare eras – and it’s also got to send the rest of the CIS schools scurrying to improve their programs.
While it’s nice to have one monolith to look at – and coach Dave Smart’s done an outstanding job recruiting and keeping that program moving forward – there needs to be, I think, a bit more competition at the very top of the pole for the game to truly go.
But, for now, hats off entirely to the Ravens, that’s an impressive string of victories.