The end of the weekend mail
Okay, Smelly Ford Focus and I – having lost an hour somewhere – are traipsing down the 402, 401, 403 and then down to the arena so you have fun with this and we’ll talk when I get to the arena sometime this afternoon.
Don’t forget, IGBT around 6 tonight, be there or be square.
Q: Hey Doug: Since you 'scooped' Cathal in today's (Wednesday's) blog, and talked about soccer, it gave me an idea for a question. (BTW, I also was a soccer 'scoffer,' figuring it was just a bunch of people running willy-nilly around a huge field - until I was asked to help coach a team, and realized that there was actually some planning and strategy involved!)
My question: Purely as a spectator (not a beat grunt worrying about a deadline, or a wordsmith, trying to figure out how to craft his thoughts for a blog), how would you rank your interest in various athletic events? Which athletic events do you find wishing to could watch more of on a casual basis?
Thanks for keeping us informed (and, thanks to some of your commenters, amused)!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Of the major sports, I probably would rank ‘em:
Baseball, for the pace of the game and the ability to kind of relax while watching it.
Basketball, because even if I’m watching it purely as a fan I find myself being a bit analytical and looking as much for stories as plays.
Golf because nothing beats a nice nap on a Sunday afternoon.
Football because, well, because it’s not hockey.
Hockey because, well, because it’s a major sport in some markets.
Q: Hey Doug, I've been reading David Halberstam's "Playing for Keeps" (which is quickly creeping up my 'favorites' list) and I thought: if you could write a non-fiction book on a sports related theme (including a player), what would it be?
Diego S, Toronto
A: Hmm, good one.
I don’t do a lot of fiction, either reading or writing, but it might be cool to tell the story of a former star player as he tries to adapt to real life situations – family and social – after his playing days end. Maybe he goes out a champion and then has to take care of himself without any handlers and be around his family every single day. Maybe he’s got a kid who’s a challenge and some secret in his past that he’d rather not get out but one that’s in mind every day.
Would you buy that?
Q: Doug, what are the chances that Bargnani's return will in fact disrupt the Raptors, who've nicely adjusted to his absence over the past few weeks?
Ron F, Toronto
A: Um, before the Detroit game they were 5-15 in the games he missed the second time around after being 1-5 the first time around.
Bring on the disruption, I say.
Hey Doug: Other than the Smelly Ford Focus, what would be your 'dream vehicle?'
Thanks again for all of your various efforts for us!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Oh, it’d probably have to be a nice Mercedes Benz convertible, I’d say. Pretty sleek car.
Q: Hey Doug. Glad you enjoyed all that the Forest City had to offer! London really is the perfect sized town for quality local sports in my opinion.
Even Co-ed Rec League.
We have our final game before the playoffs coming up against the All-World (er.. All-Campus) team in the league. The team is undefeated, mostly since they've got a behemoth of a centre that dwarfs every other guy in the league by a couple of inches.
So put on your strategy hat, Doug. How do we take down these guys? We've got 3 guys who can bang away at 6 foot 2 to 6 foot 3, but no one close to this kid (he's gotta be 6' 6" or 6' 7"). For a team that has to play close to the net (as GM/Captain/Coach, I've been killing our guys for taking contested threes; they aren't dropping), what is the accepted pro-strategy for facing a team with an obvious height-handicap?
I'm thinking if it were last year's poor outside shooting HOTH versus Yao Ming in his prime would probably stand as a solid example.
We need help, Coach Doug!
Andrew P, Toronto
A: Wow, I’d suggest you need more help simply because you’re asking here.
Me? I put all the big lugs in multiple high screen-roll, get ‘em moving and away from the basket and beat ‘em repeatedly with back-door, off-the-ball cuts.
Of course, I have no clue what I’m talking about but that seems to make sense to me.
Q: Hi Doug,. Love your blog. Look forward to reading it everyday at work on my coffee break.
I have a comment about the disappointing coverage of the CIS championships by the TV stations. I have been at the CIS championships the last couple of years when they were in Ottawa. The Score was there to broadcast the semis and the final live each year. Even Cabbie was there. It seems to me that 2 of the former announcers, Tim and Sid, had a real passion for all types of Canadian University sports. Now they are gone The Score seems to have dropped the ball in terms of coverage of the CIS championships. In my mind The Score was the channel to go to for Canadian University sports but now they are just like the others and broadcasting US college ball instead of supporting Canadian sports. I hope they get their stuff together for next year and provide coverage of the CIS basketball championships.
Ron D, Ottawa
A: I don’t think we can blame The Score on this one; CIS championship rights are owned by TSN and they’d rather show, I believe, curling on the main network and a car race on the other channel rather than the CIS men’s basketball championship. I’ll give ‘em curling, it’s got a huge draw, but, really, auto racing?
Q: Doug, it seems like Sonny Weems has fallen of everyone's radar screen. From what little I've seen, he seems to have done reasonably well overseas this year. Is he still a factor in the Raptors personnel deliberations for next year? Is he an RFA, or could he be signed by anyone?
Alan C, Kawartha Lakes
A: The only thing he is to the Raptors at this moment – and I cannot for the life of me seeing it changing – is an asset as a restricted free agent. There is no interest on either side in a return.
He is having a pretty good year over in Lithuanian; won a fridge by being his team’s MVP in the league’s all-star game.
Q: Diaw would seem to be a player that many teams could use: a team-first guy, not a knucklehead, can play almost any position: think there's any interest from the grownups at the ACC? Anything they have that the Bobs might want that would work?
Brad W, Courtenay
A: There was a time when Boris Diaw was coveted here but that was before he got grotesquely out of shape and fell out of favour with his coach and teammates by putting out half-hearted efforts more often than not. He is certainly not any better right now than anyone Toronto has playing; different, perhaps, but not better.
Q: I was reading an article on Aaron Gray on Hoopsworld that, in the process of praising the screens he sets, described his listed weight of 270 as "highly questionable." Does the NBA exercise any oversight over the accuracy of roster data? Does anyone other than the fans use roster data, or do the folks in the league keep their own data (I imagine a GM trading for a back-up centre wouldn't want to find out on arrival that his new 7-footer is actually 6-8)? Or could the Raptors, just for the hell of it, list Gray at Jose's size and vice versa?
Mike D, Toronto
A: It’s funny but a lot of the information on the websites is monitored and handled by the NBA itself so they perpetuate the myth of weight and height. But teams do their own measurements, etc., at training camp each season – long after most team information is in the process of being published – so they know what’s up.
Q: Hi Doug. I had a question regarding this year's upcoming draft. Given the Raptors' recent relative "success", it seems like they will be picking outside of the top 5. There has been much talk about the strength and depth of this year's draft...How deep is it? Is there a certain point (ie; top 4, top 7, etc.) where there is a significant drop off in talent?
Also, for those of us who don't follow college basketball until March (yes, the "bandwaggoners"!), do you have any ideas on some names of players we could watch as potential Raptor picks?
Thanks Doug, keep up the great work, love the blog!
James M, Kitchener
A: Ah, a draft question. All I’ll say is that it’s considered “deep” without any suggestion of just how deep it is. Names? Any of the usual suspects, like Anthony Davis, the Drummond kid from Connecticut, Harrison Barnes of North Carolina, Thomas Robinson of Kansas lead most lists. And eventually, like in May when the final draft order is determined, we’ll talk more.
Q: Interesting point on NFL bounties.
When you watch old Hockey or football footage it looks as though the players were playing in slow motion (when compared to today's athletes).
It's my understanding that in the old days players would drink beer all summer (without training). It would appear that the talent and level of competition is much greater in Sports today vs. years past and I suppose the globalization of each Sport has something to do with this.
Having said this, has the "business" of Sports enhanced or diminished the (what’s the word I’m thinking of here) respect(?) and integrity of competition?
If so, can you think of a turning point in Sports when the love of the game truly became a business or has it always been that way, maybe just not discussed in the media.
Rob V, Waterloo
A: I can’t think of a specific moment – I guess with each league it goes with the tremendous influx of money from TV and sponsorship deals that made franchises far more wealthy – but I think what the money has done is enhance the competitive nature to some degree.
There’s just so much cash flowing around and available to the players that most are compelled to at least stay in some semblance of good shape year-round so they can get their piece of a huge pie.
Q: What looked weirder: MJ as a Wizard or the Mailman as a Laker?
Brian P, Cambridge
A: I’ve got Jordan.
Q: You mentioned that, due to the compressed season, a lot of upsets are bound to happen, just as Detroit beat L.A. the other night. Then, you cautioned, "Remember that the next time the HOTH either win one they’re not supposed to or lose one they were supposed to win."
Especially with Andrea out, I'm curious to know which games the Raps are "supposed to win". I don't mean this in any negative way, but I can't really name a team (Charlotte, maybe) that the Raps really SHOULD beat this year. Thoughts?
Jeremy S, Toronto
A: Probably nobody and it’s not something I would say on my own but a lot of fans seem to think they can just show up against teams with worse, or equal, records. Doesn’t happen that way.
Q: I have a rather basic question about the rules of the game. Never played it and came late to it as spectator and I am having a problem wondering about why the basketball is inbounded from the offensive zone instead of the defensive zone. I was wondering what the rule is and how it is applied. Can it be done at any time, is it a special call or is there only certain circumstances where it is allowed. Thanks in advance. I am of a somewhat older vintage than you and just never watched much in the way of sports until the last few years and I am slowly starting to get a grip on it. Your blog and the IGBT really help.
Gerry T, Halifax
A: I’m not exactly sure where you’re going with this but the ball is inbounded from the spot where it went out of bounds. And it can now be thrown either into the frontcourt or the backcourt from any out of bounds spot on the floor; in the past you could only inbound to the front court from the front court in some circumstances. Hope I’ve cleared it up.
Q: Hey Doug. Not sure I if I agree on doing nothing. I don't really want to repeat the Kapono and Turkaglu free agent fiascos and only second tier free agents would sign here anyway at least until we build a contender. It seems to me with the draft strong in PF's and Jonas coming over. Seems a great time to sell when value for say Amir is higher than next year with the glut of power forwards coming. A package of Amir and Leandro may be enticing to a team and get a draft and a back up PG or 2. Maybe we can throw Weems' rights into a package?
Ron V, Waterloo
A: So you’re trading out of cap space by dealing Leandro, moving a key part of any longer-term front court for a raw, unproven big you hope you can draft and getting a backup point guard.
Yeah, guess you can try to shop that around.
Q: Hello Doug. Another couple questions for you - game inspired but I hope not too game specific..._So I'm sitting in the upper deck for the Magic game on March 5, and in the 4th quarter (I think) Magloire gets a foul for some roughness against Howard. The ref who called the foul and Casey seem a little heated, but head official Dick Bavetta walks in gives the ball to his fellow official and sends him off to a neutral corner. Then Bavetta grabs Casey and all the Raps coaches and has a little huddle with them. I'm wondering what might have been going on there? It seemed like a veteran ref keeping the peace all down the line. Do you have any insights on that situation and is it the kind of thing that happens often? I'd never noticed anything like it before, but that's neither here nor there. I was really impressed with Dick Bavetta. Maybe you could mention your favourite refs or some reffing moments that shed light on how a good ref works a game.
Question number two is quicker - what's the deal with Jared Bayless? He seems very much Jekyll and Hyde to me - occasional flashes of promising play and a lot of bad play. Last night he had a reasonable stat line but my gut said he made plenty of bad plays that hurt the Raps, and maybe he's not a player who makes us better even if his numbers look ok. Is he young enough to figure this out on a youngish team? Not sure I'd be sad to see him go at this point, but I'd be happy to hear you tell me if I'm missing something.
Paul W, Toronto
A: I remember that play and Dick was just calming the situations, as some refs do. A lot of coaches just want to vent a bit and it’s better if a senior guy can help diffuse a situation. And sometimes coaches want to make sure the refs will take a look at a specific play on video – kind of to prove the coaches right – and a vet will make sure that happens.
Jerryd? Young player learning a tough position and not having an easy time of it. His role in the future, in my opinion, is a combo guard off the bench.
Q: Hi Doug. After watching another game come down to the end to for another lost, isn't that unexpected as they are a relatively young team with growing pains still on the rise. However, I can't help but get excited about this years draft. What position do you feel will be addressed with the most urgency? With a ton of upfront talent, the scenario of getting 1st/2nd pick overall (Davis and Drummond) would be a good problem for Mr. Colangelo to have no?
David G, Ottawa
A: Sorry, we’ll talk about the draft after the lottery and we see who picks where.
(I know; that ticks a lot of people off but I’m pretty consistent on it. This is just a gentle reminder).
Q: I heard this question the other day and i thought it was a really good one. Doug if you could choose over having the career of Chris Webber or Robert Horry, which would you take and why?
Mario A, Toronto
A: Horry, and it’s not even close. Played longer, won more.
Q: I have been impressed with the way the Raptors seem to keep playing with enough intensity to keep them in most games, even though they don't seem to execute well enough down the stretch to be able to pull out very many wins. What are the players and coaches doing to keep the frustration of loosing so many close games from boiling over?
Tom H, Whitby
A: Time to go all trite on you: They wake up, go to practice or shootaround and play another game.
Seriously, they get momentarily ticked after losses but it’s over fast because there’s always something on the horizon to get ready for.
Best thing a coach or player can have most times is a short memory.