Keeping it together mentally is the difficult task
Of all the things Dwane Casey has to do, trying to keep up the spirits of the Raptors might be the most important, not to mention the most difficult, too.
Especially now, with the end of a disastrous stretch of schedule almost upon them, the losses piling up, the future looking bleak and, so far, he’s doing quite well.
Not sure if anyone will believe this but these guys aren’t in the doldrums, they aren’t sniping at each other and the mental toll of the first 18 hasn’t beaten them to a pulp.
But they all know they need some wins to (a) keep their long-term goals in mind and (b) to validate what they’ve been doing in all the games they’ve been close in.
The way Casey is going about it is, to me, the right way. He is not ranting and raving and running them into the ground because I think that’s the way to turn everyone off and it’s too early for that.
He is cajoling and supporting and teaching, with the message always the same.
“I’m getting on them, pushing them in the right way because the worst thing you can do right now is have an amputated spirit. Right now, our spirits are good, even thought were not getting the Ws, the end results we’re looking for. Our spirit is good and it’s up to me to keep ‘em up, keep ‘em going, teach the right way. Teaching to get better more so than putting them down, putting them down like ‘you’re not winning.’ Those things are things that I’m trying to do to keep them going and keep a group consistently performing.”
Yes, there are major flaws with the team at the moment. There is no anchor to the defence because a 20-year-old rookie doesn’t quite get the speed of the game yet and a defensively-challenged power forward will never get.
That’s the biggest defensive issue right now, there is nothing to dissuade opponents from getting into the paint with no compunction; there are not meeting resistance because Bargnani is too slow to cover up (remember when he was okay defensively last year? It was on high screen-roll, not in the interior) and while Valanciunas is going to be very, very good eventually, he’s still trying to figure out what he can do defensively in the paint.
But those are the technical issues that they face and they are correctable in time; the mental aspect is where Casey might be doing his best work.
No one’s tuned anyone out, they still think they can win every game they play and, right now, that’s extremely important.
“I told our guys, we’re four games out of the East, of knocking on the playoffs door so it’s not like everything’s lost. We’re at the toughest part of our schedule, keep the hope, keep the faith, keep working and keep believing in each other and I think that’s the most important thing.”
I would so like to be back there if someone had a Leonard Cohen ticket to pass on.
That’s as good a gravelly voice as you’ll ever hear, isn’t it?
Let’s start the mail, shall we?
Lots of time on my hands over the next couple of days; it’d be good to have something nice to read.
Hey, did you see the note yesterday that the New Orleans Hornets might change the name of the team to the Pelicans as early as next season?
That would be so, so, so cool.
And, no, I don’t know about any movement to have the Raptors petition the league for a name change but I could certainly go for a switch to Huskies or something like that and do it for the 20th anniversary in two years.
Want to know where all your lost luggage goes to?
Not sure it sends the best signal to travellers looking for bags but it was still kind of cool
And since this is my first trip here in a while, and I think the last two times I was here we stayed in San Francisco as part of a Golden State-Sacramento trip it was nice to see an airy terminal, the old place was like a desolate bus garage.
Seriously, hands up everyone who thought you might find a good sushi place in a strip mall in Sacramento?
But a tip of the chapeau to Oshima Sushi, which is about a 25-minute walk from the arena. Have the shrimp tempura and the California roll, a couple of Fat Tires and relax while typing a little bit. I recommend it.
Would have hung around the hotel area except it’s in a desolate area outside the city a bit and the best thing about it was running into Dick Bavetta when he was checking in at the same time yesterday morning.
And why there is not a full-service Marriott anywhere in a state capital is a mystery to me and has been for the 15 years or so I’ve been coming here.
So we’re in the joint finishing up some dinner and watching Nets-Thunder and seeing the scroll show the Wizards beating the Heat.
And the guy a couple of stools down, right after I said something like, “that’s why they play the games” chimes in with:
“If I was a Heat fan, I would kill myself.”
A tad over the top, no?