The start of the weekend mail
Well, that was a lot of fun in London last night; good game, great atmosphere and you’ll read all about the snippets here sometime later this morning with a full NBL Canada piece in tomorrow’s paper.
Until then? Enjoy this while the Smelly Ford Focus moseys on down the highway to Auburn Hills.
If you want me to work really hard when I get there, you know the drill.
Q: Hello... Do new Canadian citizens have to "pound the rock"?
Ottawa just hosted the OFSAA Boys Basketball. There is a lot of good players coming up. Eastern Commerce started five guards. Is this a new trend since all our bigs tend to go south to play Prep ball?
Since the HOTC are in Detroit, who ya got?... Motown, Seger, Kid Rock, Mitch Ryder...
Bob E, Kanata
A: Not sure if it’s a new trend but if it allows players to not be pigeon-holed and smalls to play big and bigs to play small, I’m all for it. Glad you had fun.
If I had to rank those four, it’d probably be Seger, Motown, Kid and Mitch.
And we can't forget this one:
Q: Hi Doug. This is one that's been floating in my head since you made a comment some time ago.
You have talked several times about some of the young players needing to get in the weight room, and indicated that coaches were of the same mind. Weight training is slightly tricky, it's one form of work that can be overdone and rest is part of what makes it work.
Is there any indication that the players are not doing what Scott McCullough is setting out for them? Or lack of enthusiasm for that part of their training? I have to figure he has worked out programs to optimize the available space for this.
Jim R, Toronto
A: No, no indication at all. But with so many games in so few nights and the need for time to rest and eventually get some on-court practice in, there isn’t much time for a lot of weight-room work. They do lift once or twice a week, schedule-permitting, but the real dedicated work can’t happen during the season.
Q: Hi Doug. Looking back, in the big draft year, when Bosh et Al got drafted, would you still have drafted LeBron first. I propose to you that considering what they have done, my draft would have gone as 1- Wade, 2- LeBron, 3- Anthony 4- Bosh.
I think Raps made a big mistake by not taking Wade. He brought an average Miami team the cup. What do you think?
Arman P, Oakville
A: Never mind that.
How about when they screwed up by taking that McGrady fellow instead of Kobe? Or Vince over Nash? Yeesh. How did they ever survive?
Ain’t hindsight grand.
But if you’re doing do-overs for the ’04 draft and don’t still take LeBron No. 1 you have issues.
Q: Doug. I just read your blog where you advised Brian Colangelo and the Raptors against making any more moves until summer. I'm not sure what inside information you possess, or what great insight you possess. It seems a bit over the top that you would advise any NBA GM about this type of thing when you base of information is obviously limited. For the most part your blog and stories are very good, but in this case you made a suggestion without providing any basis for it. Not really the type of comment or information that provides us as readers with much value.
Bob H , Medicine Hat
A: These, as the man says, are My Irregulars.
Value? It allows some to nod in agreement and others to openly mock. If that ain’t value, I don’t know what is.
Q: Top of the morning to you, a question that relates more to the business of newspapering than basketball specifically. So on any given game night yourself and perhaps Cathal are covering the game. One of you will be on deadline for the "gamer" at, obviously, the end of the game. I find myself curious as to why the first story to appear (on the Star mobile site) quite frequently carries someone else's byline? The other night just to mess me up, the story first goes with one name and some time later, same story different byline. Can't say this keeps me awake at night but, as mentioned, it does leave me curious.
As always thanks for what you do.
Doug T, Brantford
A: Well, here’s the thing: Things have changed a wee bit.
What we need to have is a story to them by 10:30 p.m., which on all occasions in Toronto means we can go and get post-game quotes, write fresh and totally after the game and still make deadline. Sometimes, and this is a change we’ve made that I’m not entirely in tune with, they will use a wire story for that period from the end of the game until the morning when they will “post” my gamer to catch the early-morning web traffic. In the past, they would just use a wire piece until I filed and then replace it whenever I got my story in. I’m not in favour of the change but I’m just a grunt and I’m sure it makes sense to someone at some level.
Mine’s generally up by 8 a.m., if that’s any consolation, which I doubt it is.
Q: Hello Doug. One thing I see in basketball, and I can't see why, a defender goes anywhere near a player shooting a 3-point shot, risk a foul, give up 3 free throws, not to mention a possible 4-point play if the shooter makes the shot. Is this a brain cramp, or am I missing something? A 3-point shot is a relatively low percentage play, depending on who shoots it, why take the risk? I remember a NY Knicks/Indiana Pacers playoff game from a few years back where I think the Pacers were up late in a game, Larry Johnson shoots a three, is fouled, makes the shot and the Knicks win the game based on that play.
David B, Yarmouth
A: I was at that Johnson game, actually. And it was Antonio Davis who fouled him.
Anyway, while I agree contesting a long three-pointer may be fraught with peril you still have to do it. No way any team simply doesn’t guard a guy on the off-chance they foul him. And with benefit of hard data, I would suggest the foul rate on three-point attempts is far less than 10 per cent league-wide so they know what they’re doing.
Q: Is Jimmer Fredette following the career path of JJ Redick or Adam Morrison?
Joe S, Kingston
A: Wow, we are all about instant analysis and rush to judgement, aren’t we? I’m giving a rookie who didn’t have a summer league or a training camp and whose first coach has already been fired a wee bit more time before there’s any comparisons.
Q: You mentioned before the Orlando game that Jack was hanging around and that you'd likely get together later that evening for some social time. As the game transpired I wondered how animated your chats get with Jack. For instance when the calls were made against DeMar and Jose, you predictably defended the officials. At the same time Jack was going nuts with rants about the terrible calls and what an off night Olandis Poole in particular was having. So, did an argument ensue afterwards? If so, I'm sure it would have been a fun time.
Joe S, Kingston
A: Total truth? Most of the time when I get away from the game with a crony like Jack, the last thing we talk about are specific instances of specific games, whether we agree or not. We might talk about personalities or tell stories but we’re just as likely to discuss baseball or our families or anything but the Raptors.
Q: Hi Doug. I was curious as to your thoughts on how many games the Raptors have been in (i.e. losing by 5 points or less). Does anyone look at this - I do realize that it is still a loss, but at least it shows some fight and they are not giving up.
Monty M, Toronto
A: Oh, for sure they’re impressed with the competitive nature of the team most nights and its ability to stay in games when there might be a talent discrepancy. But with each tough loss, they are also learning they need to find some closers where few seem to exist right now.
But I also warn of this: There may be so much substantial change – four or five new guys in the top eight next season – that any thought of a carry-over effect has to be tempered by the knowledge that a few guys who are getting them close this year won’t be here next year.
Q: Doug: If the Raptors can't sign Steve Nash (which I agree would be a great move), how about going after Goran Dragic as a back-up for Jose? He's an unrestricted free agent next year with a reasonable pricetag who's just entering his prime.
Doug R, Oakville
A: I would think he’d be high on a list as a fallback if they feel there’s a need for a backup or a stop-gap starter. Kid plays with an edge and I imagine there’d be a fair amount of interest, including in Houston where he’s doing quite well.
Q: Hi Doug. Too bad about Van Persie's flick the guy's been on a tear this season. He said that was the only thing he could do anyway as an Arsenal fan I knew the jig was up when he missed that, oh well.
Anyways HOTH question. In one of your IGBTs this week you were talking about Ed Davis and how he better be playing summer league ball this year. I was wondering if there had been any talk from him or the organization that he planned to skip it or something?
Mark E, Dubai
A: Oh, no. I haven’t heard that there’s even been a discussion about who might be on a summer league team. I know for a fact the team wants him to play and while they can’t force him, they can suggest it strongly. And there’s been no indication he’d resist; he better not, he needs it.
Q: Hi Doug. What do the coaches normally yell out from the sideline during game play? I can never quite make it out. I'd assume it'd be calling a play, settle it down etc. Are there any coaches that are entertaining as they roam the court/sideline.
Jim J, Hamilton
A: Unprintable words. Nah, mostly kidding on that. They’re yelling play calls, both offence for what they want run and defence for what the other team is going to run and Dwane spends an inordinate amount of time urging his guys to stay up on shooters, get their hands up on defence and to get in a defensive stance.
Some guys can be a bit comical; the other night Kevin McHale spent one free throw stretch telling one of his guys to tell an official to make the same call at the other end of the floor, guess he didn’t want to chat the guy up himself.
One great Sam Mitchell story I’ve probably already told.
When he used to get on Matt Bonner, Matt would look over, shrug his shoulders and hold his arms up in a “who, me?” kind of manner. Well, we used to joke that was the pose they’d use when they put up the statue to Matt outside the Air Canada Centre.
One night, Matt does something, Sam screams, Matt puts his arms up and shrugs and Sam turns to Stumpy and I and says:
“Get the statue ready.”
Q: Hi Doug. A perception question. Andrea got off to a great start, but only played in 13 games. What is the thinking (for the Raptors and the rest of the league) about him having turned the corner? I would assume a larger sample size is needed, but I would appreciate your thoughts.
Kevin M, Maple
A: The perception, at least from the unbiased observers I talked to who had seen the Raptors play was that Dwane Casey must have been some kind of magician to get Andrea so engaged on the defensive end and the wonder was how long he could keep it up.
I think the very best thing that could have furthered the perception that he’d turned some proverbial corner was that in the two games he played after coming back, he was just as aggressive and in tune to the defensive system as he was before he got hurt the first time.
Now the question is, will he push himself as hard defensively after missing 20 games? I’m guessing he will but it’s a wait-and-see proposition.