The start of the weekend mail
Well, what’s that about best laid plans?
Anyway, got some of this done before life intruded yesterday; will wrap up what’s left today sometime for tomorrow morning.
Q: Hello Doug, Someone mentioned 3-on-3 hoops as a new Olympic event. Golf premiers in Rio... It's astounding that skateboarding isn't in there officially yet, given snowboarding and BMX bike-type stuff. What, ribbon twirling is Olympics-worthy, but not juggling? And how about Ultimate Frisbee? Darts? Croquet? Bog snorkelling? Just wondering how super-saturated you think the Games have gotten. I mean, doesn't there have to be a point of diminishing returns in there somewhere?
Thanks for the great blog.
David M, Ottawa
A: True story: I was in one of the press rooms, might have been at cycling, and I was running through the computer system looking at the next day’s schedule to see what we might have to cover.
And lo and behold, I found out that wakeboarding is a summer Olympic sport! Who knew?
So, yes, the Games are far too bloated and the IOC has to be blamed. In an effort to attract more viewers – and therefore more money – they’ve sold out to what have to be seen as somewhat marginal sports and as they do, it cheapens the whole thing a little bit.
It has to stop sometime, but I don’t know when.
Q: Doug, worst Olympic events to watch live. Go.
Jeff M, Chatham
A: Worst? Anything you can’t see in its entirety. I know we’re huge on rowing and kayaking but if you’re there, you’re all but watching on TV and some of the drama is lost.
Oh, and sailing. 100 per cent sailing.
Q: Hello Doug. First of all congratulations on a blog well done during your travels on the other side of the pond.
Regarding the Raptors I am afraid I cannot share your assertion that the off season has been fruitful and we will see what they have when they open camp. I cannot let Bryan off the hook when I see 4-team trades and numerous moves being made by saying that there just want not a good swingman available via free agency. And that leads to my question or comment.
Sure Lowry is an upgrade at point guard but I think you would agree the Raptors most glaring need is a 2-3 who can score and create off the dribble? So Landry Fields is not that guy in my opinion.
So in the off season when the GM is unable to do anything to address his team's most glaring weakness how can one even give him a passing grade?
Freddy W, Cambridge
A: Sure, that’s a need and it wasn’t filled to the satisfaction of many. Been said a kabillion times. But, it’s a far better, deeper team than the one that finished last year, whether you agree or not. Better at point guard, deeper at the two-three and with a promising rookie 7-footer coming.
So, frankly, whether he’s “off the hook” or not doesn’t really matter, the job is to build a better team and, this summer, they did.
It’s not an ‘A’ summer but I’d give it a ‘B.’ Sorry you don’t agree.
Q: Hi Doug. How would you rate Jose's Olympic performances? He certainly didn't fill up the stat sheet. I am a huge Calderon fan, one of my favorite Raptors of all time. I'm just trying to understand why his game didn't seem to contribute to the National team.
Colin K, Ann Arbor
A: You, like so many, put far too much emphasis on numbers. Jose was an integral part of a silver medal-winning team and, frankly, they don’t win the semifinal with Russia if he doesn’t play well.
I’d rate his Games, at least in the three games I saw, a ‘B’ overall.
Q: Hi Doug! About 3 days ago I moved from Ottawa to State College, PA (no, I don't play football, let's not go there). I just wanted to say I really enjoyed your Olympic coverage, particularly of the pub scene in London (I've been once or twice very briefly, but you're making me want to go again).
On a related note, I just bought 12 Yeungling at the grocery store for $9.
Maybe I could get used to this.
David T, State College
A: Yeah, I’m thinking you could get used to that, too.
Q: Hi Doug. Welcome back. What's the status of the trade exception that we received when CB left town? Is it still available to the Raptors?
Why is there a hesitation in using it? Could we not get a decent SF with this extra money?
A: Wow. Haven’t had one of these in a while. Expired a year ago, allowed them to do a few minor things in the way of trades and transactions, wasn’t a home run to be hit with it so they didn’t hamstring themselves in the future. A mistake? Don’t think so. Too bad but no opportunity presented itself that made sense.
And that’ll be the last Bosh trade exception chat here; it’s old, old, old news not worth my time revisiting actually.
Q: Would current Raptor crack the Laker rotation? Heat?
Bo K, Mississauga
A: Since both those teams have little depth, I’d say either of Toronto’s point guards, Bargnani, likely DeRozan and maybe Fields. And we don’t know yet about Valanciunas.
Q: Hi Doug. Great job in London. Your blog and stories in the paper/website were can't miss reading for me every day of the Olympics.
I do have a couple of HOTH questions for you. I read an interview with Assistant Coach Eric Hughes and it seemed like he couldn't stress enough how much the lockout hurt a young team and specifically D.D. and E.D. with their development.
Do the Raptors have one of the biggest opportunities for improvement (with their returning players) vs last year given the time that the teams are allowed to work with their young players this off season vs last? Also given the Raptors defensive improvement last year vs 2 years ago do you think that we could season a massive improvement this year given training camp, increased days of practice during the season, and some new more defensive personnel (Lowry, Fields, Ross, Valanciunas)?
Thanks and please keep up the great work.
Alex H, Oakville
A: I’m not sure about “massive” improvement but there is no question that giving Dwane a full training camp, a full pre-season and the usual number of in-season practice days can only help. It is a young team very much learning and Dwane does his best work in practice. Now, having more time is also going to help every other team in the league – they all operated under the same goofy circumstances last season – but I think it helps Toronto a wee bit more than the others.
Q: Hey Doug,Dream Team vs 2012 USA Team would it have been a close game? How were the Beverage's in the UK? Any favorites? Heard they have Refrigeration now eh!
Bob W, Winnipeg
A: 1992 wins. And I mentioned a few times, beverages were great; Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager is the best. Ever.
Q: I've read you for years, like you almost all the time, really appreciate your 'human' touches.
You frustrate me though because you give the home team way too much of a pass - probably impossible not to do and stay on the beat as long as you have.
You always seem to 'rationalize' their underwhelming moves or their disappointments.
I LOVE D. Casey, so I really do think he will 'coach' the team into the playoffs this year BUT we need a 'flat-out' electrifying scorer from the 2 or 3 spot. Or Barngani has to be healthy and play to his full potential for full season (1st time) and find a shut down at the 3 spot.
Very disappointed as a fan that after willingly, happily paying the price last 2 years of watching this rebuild that we couldn't accomplish anything of significance this summer. I guess all we can really hope for is that less is more for us this year (in terms of our expectations).
Unless we (the fans and you embedded media types) put legit pressure on this team - they will always be a 'have not' - content to fight for playoffs
John W, Toronto
A: Thanks for the back-handed compliments, always welcome. Sort of.
Look, I’m not going to yell and scream about what didn’t happen, not my style, won’t ever be. Go find it somewhere else, it’s not coming from here.
Sure, a great three is a need, have been saying it since last season began, didn’t happen for a variety of reasons, all fully explained dozens of times here and I’m not going through it all again.
Nothing of significance this summer? Have you been away? Better at point guard, exponentially deeper at the two and three, have a promising young centre coming. That may not be significant to you but, frankly, it is.
Tell me, please, what “legit” pressure is? I don’t quite get it; it’s not like we ignore the failings, I think it’s just not to the daily degree of hammering you’d like but, honestly, I don’t know what you expect.
Q: Hi Doug. What do you think about teams like Miami and LA being able to essentially buy a championship team? I personally have no respect for these organisastions, it ruins the league and sends a bad message. Oklahoma City built their team through the draft, I respect that, and hope they take it down this year for that reason. With the raptors looking now like they will be competitive (meaning no high draft picks anymore) how can we ever win a championship, or even compete for that matter? Thanks,
Sylvio M, Ottawa
A: I think they’re playing within the boundaries of the CBA and all the more power to ‘em if they have the financial resources to spend and the personnel resources to make major deals.
And, yes, Oklahoma City has done well drafting, as well as trading and signing free agents. And, of course, getting lucky because their cornerstone player fell to them at No. 2 when Portland made a pick that turned out bad.
And the Raptors, and any other team, can compete if they have all of those things I mentioned but it’s easier said than done.
Q: Hi Doug. Glad you enjoyed yourself in our fair capital after all the predictions of doom and chaos I think it is safe to say that the London Olympics were amazing, and they have definitely ignited the fire in the belly of our nation in such a horrible grey time for many. I would like to say thank you for doing such a sterling job reporting on the games. I have my Paralympic tickets already so I am good for the first weekend in September. A quick question though, will I ever see my Raps play in London again?
Leon R, Cambridge
A: I don’t know if you will; I know these guys would like to get back to Europe again and extend their reach to fans one more time but I think they may have other cities they’d like to get to once before visiting somewhere a second time.
But these schedules are fluid so it’s impossible to say yes or no with 100 per cent certainty.
Q: Doug, Thanks for your coverage of the SWNT at the Olympics. When do you think coverage of the team will move from a "nice people, good stories" coverage to more of a "they have to get more athletic at the big positions," or "coach needed to substitute differently in the third quarter" I enjoy the current coverage, but wonder if it's a indicator of the lack of expectations to achieve that the latter items are not mentioned in articles or in discussions. Thanks again - I've come back to the Star after a few years of reading other papers more; your blog (even if it's not in the paper) is the main reason why.
Erik T, Iroquois Falls
A: I think I mentioned in pretty much every game story that the team was smallish, didn’t score well enough, probably wasn’t as athletic at it should be and played well because it played hard and defended.
They exceeded expectations, actually.
And I think the coaching, given all the factors, was outstanding; I’m not going to nitpick third quarter substitution patterns; that’s ridiculous.
Q: What I didn't like about the Olympics - the amount of time spent telling us about American athletes personal lives. If it had been spread around for all countries - ok maybe. _What I didn't like about Canadian coverage of the Olympics - the Jay and Dan smirk fest attempted comedy hour on TSN.
What I liked about the Olympics coverage - the up to date info bits about the different sports that were not being televised, and that the colour commentators (mostly) knew what the were talking about.
What I liked about the Olympics - It was the Olympics and it was a pleasure to see so many first class athletes doing what they do best.
How did some of the other irregulars here see the past two weeks?
Gerald T, Halifax
A: People? What have you got?