I hope many of you sat around yesterday, or will sit around today, taking stock of what you have and being thankful for it.
I did a bit.
And came up with …
My good health.
Finally, we heard it.
Don’t recall the word coming up once the entire week in Halifax and when Dwane Casey uttered it Sunday after practice I kind of smiled.
Yes, we’d heard all about tempo and pace and getting quick shots and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and it almost made me think Dwane had lost his way.
“We can’t lose that defensive identity and we want to make sure we keep the pedal to the metal on the defensive end.
“Being physical, having a tough disposition – ‘hey, you’re not going to score on me all night.’ That’s what we’re looking for.”
It wasn’t as if I’d truly thought they’d given up on this whole “defence-first” thing that made them improve so much last season because I know Dwane knows that defence travels, if you’re solid at that end of the court you’ll be in almost every game.
And because I wonder if this team truly has the speed and firepower to out-score opponents, it’s hugely important that they continue to build the identity they started to get a season ago.
So tonight, when you’re watching (it’s on Raptors TV or whatever it’s called now) check out how they defend because that’s going to continue to be the most important part of this team.
Watch to make sure they are packing the paint and denying penetration and easy baskets at the rim; watch to see if they can force long-twos and that they get out to contest three-pointers; watch to see if they rebound and box out and hit people.
Yes, the up-tempo is fun if you’re playing a bad team that doesn’t get back and, yes, there are a lot of bad teams around; but that’s a bit of Fool’s Gold, good teams don’t let you do that; these guys have to stay true to their principles on the most important end of the court.
Super Son practicing the Jungleland solo on the sax.
Really, outside of Treviso, this might have been the second-best training camp ever.
Great people, fine city, excellent selection of spots to visit.
The weather was outstanding, too, which was a very nice touch.
Loved The Henry House, enjoyed the music at The Old Triangle, the food at the Economy Shoe Shop and Alan Doyle was tremendous at the birthday party.
One thing, though:
Why in the world did you build the airport in New Brunswick?
Anyway, was an excellent week, hope we’re back again.
Warm summer evenings at the ball yard.
Cool fall and winter nights courtside.
A gently faded 6-iron that nestles three feet below the hole.
Contest time, sort of.
A first pre-season game against a relatively unknown European opponent at 7 p.m. on the last evening of Thanksgiving holiday weekend?
If they get a legit 7,000 people in the joint, I’ll be stunned.
What’s your guess? Winner gets to brag.
Seriously, though, wouldn’t it have been better, if you have to play on Thanksgiving Monday to play at noon or 1 p.m. or something like that?
It’s not as if Real Madrid’s coming off a back-to-back or anything like that; they played Saturday in Memphis and were in town last night (I presume Jose held some soiree with his guys) and probably wouldn’t have minded an afternoon game and a evening flight at all.
But for as a long as I can remember, they’ve played games on Thanksgiving Sunday or Monday – it’s just that time of year – and I guess it’s something we’ll deal with forever.
A well-marbled, medium-rare ribeye.
A robust red.
Do you think that when I wrote that pre-season piece about the Buffalo Bills and their new-found dedication to defence with all those tens of millions they spent on Mario Williams and whatever that we saw this coming?
New England 52, Bills 28
Six straight touchdowns in the second half a week ago.
San Francisco 45, Bills 3
Whatever it was in the second half and sieve-like run stoppage against a backup?
Yeah, I can find a story, can’t I?
The places I’ve been.
The things I’ve seen.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.
With camp Friday and Saturday coupled with a flight back (WestJet’s pretty darn good, I need to fly it more, I think) and then practice, writing and turkey on Sunday, it’s been hard to stay in touch completely with the baseball playoffs.
Saw a bit of Washington-St. Louis yesterday, caught a bit of Cincinnati-San Francisco Saturday night and the end of New York-Baltimore last evening.
And I will say this:
I don’t know entirely what the options would have been but I don’t think the team with the better record should ever open a playoff series on the road.
Yes, they still get three of the five games in the division series at home but I would think there’d be a better way to schedule it, wouldn’t you?
The travel might be hard but why not one-two-two if they don't want to stick with the traditional two-two-one?
Just seems you go all season to finish ahead of the other guy and you should get something for it, no?
Not sure how it’ll play out, or how married they are to the format long-term but don’t you think they should take a long look at it?
A friend across from the stool.
HD TV on the TV across the stool.