And a fine good evening to you all.
Ready to go?
And a fine good evening to you all.
Ready to go?
Welcome back to our usual pre-game look at tonight’s Raptors game.
PHILADELPHIA (15-21) at TORONTO (12-22)
Air Canada Centre
TIPOFF: 7 p.m.
TV: Sportsnet; RADIO: FAN590
Philadelphia: Jrue Holiday, Jason Richardson, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Lavoy Allan; Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Mickael Pietrus, Ed Davis, Aaron Gray.
Key backups tonight
Philadelphia: Nick Young (doesn’t the prolific scorer always torch Toronto?), Spencer Hawes (best big man off the bench for the Sixers); Toronto: Amir Johnson (should be able to exploit suspect Sixer frontcourt), Alan Anderson (can he continue torrid scoring streak).
Philadelphia leads, 2-0.
Couple of bad Toronto games so far this season, were blitzed in a second quarter here early in the season and lost; then Raptors were out-scored 33-18 in the fourth quarter of a defeat in Philly.
All-time, Toronto is 32-34 against Philly and 16-16 at home.
What happened this morning
Wait and see
Terrence Ross, who tweaked an ankle Sunday, did some work at shootaround and was walking normally when he passed us in the hallway.
Still, Raptors are going to wait and see how he comes through pre-game warmup before declaring him fit, or unfit, to play.
With Philadelphia heavily reliant on wings and guards to score, having Ross available is pretty big.
No happy Holiday, they hope
The Sixers’ best player right now is guard Jrue Holiday.
He averages 18.4 points and 8.9 assists per game.
Dwane Casey was all about trying to make sure Holiday doesn’t create havoc in the paint, according to Toronto’s coach Holiday is behind only San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook as the best break-down guards in the league.
“He’s playing all-star basketball,” was how Casey put it.
The men in charge
Derrick Stafford, Courtney Kirkland and Derek Richardson will tote the whistles tonight.
What they’re saying
Here’s this morning’s game story from Philadelphia’s drubbing at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.
Esoteric stat, Part 1
The Raptors are 0-5 against Atlantic Division foes this season.
They know the feeling
Philadelphia is in the midst of the worst possible schedule you can imagine.
They have just finished an eight-game road trip (they went 2-6), were home Tuesday and back out today.
They lost 12 of their last 15 and dropped to ninth in the East thanks to the grind.
Dwane Casey? Hardly sympathetic.
“No one had any sympathy for us, we’re not going to have any sympathy for them,” he said.
Esoteric stat, Part 2
In the last 10 games, Jose Calderon has an assist-to-turnover ration of 6.19 (9.9 assists per game, 1.6 turnovers per game).
That’s the best in the NBA.
Of course they won’t admit it because it’s not what they do and Dwane has these lads trained pretty well.
But this is a very, very telling week about the lads and you know they have to be thinking that if they don’t get three wins in the next three games, they’ve wasted a lot of this six-game homestand.
There were many in the organization who looked at the games, factored in the way Toronto was playing and the calibre of the opponent and figured five wins were a must.
Personally, I thought they might spit one up with a dull performance (Hello, Sacramento game!) and that 4-2 would have been pretty good.
But 3-3? Or 2-4? Unacceptable; not season killing because as Dwane said in today’s piece that there are lots of games left, but still unacceptable.
That makes me wonder how these guys will respond because this is about the biggest challenge of the season so far and in the minor ones they’ve already faced they really haven’t distinguished themselves.
I fuily believe that even in this incarnation this team is talented enough to be about the best of the so-so ones in the East. I think they can be better than four or five teams, always have thought that, and three of them are here this week.
We do know that it takes a maximum effort every night for them to prove it to each other, to the fans, to the opponents but if they play with Dwane’s “sense of urgency” (that’s this year’s “disposition” isn’t it?) they are good enough to win.
The message has been hammered home to them so often you’d think it would be impossible for it not to sink it; we could very well find out tonight, Friday night and Sunday afternoon whether that’s true.
I’m not suggesting this is the defining moment of the season – we’re months away from that – but we are the defining moment of the season so far.
Can’t wait to see how they react.
Yes, you’re going to hear that Rudy Gay might – MIGHT – be available from Memphis and, yes, the Raptors are interested at the right price. They always have been, probably always will be.
Gay would have been the No. 1 pick way back in the Bargnani draft year (and you can forget everything you hear to the contrary) and the interest is legit.
We’ve mentioned that so often, it’s like it’s news again. It shouldn’t be.
But the cost? Who knows what it is. Maybe Calderon and one of the young bigs, I would imagine the Grizzlies would start the conversation by asking for Ross and/or Valanciunas. It will – and this is only if the interest gets to some more legitimate stage and it is not there yet – be steep.
May as well start. I see some there already – some that will require Research Monkey time and effort, thank you very much and you know who you are – but there aren’t that many queries.
So do your stuff, please.
Okay, this is how my mind works.
Remember yesterday when we had the Bowie clip and it came from an appearance on the Dick Cavett Show? Well, It caused a wave of nostalgia about those old afternoon talk shows and whatever happened to them?
I’m not talking about lunacy of Jerry Springer (Today On Springer: An Alien Slept With My Wife While I Fathered A Baby With Her Mother!) or Sally Jesse Whateverhernameis or the other slop.
I’m talking about Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin and Dinah Shore and others I’m sure I’m forgetting.
We’re they cool?
And never forgotten by some, right?
Anyway, here’s one for you.
We all agree – and if we don’t, there are going to be issues – that Ed McMahon is the gold standard for sidekicks, right? Day, night, good show, bad show, it doesn’t matter.
The list starts and stops with him.
I’ve got one for you.
Arthur Treacher made some good fish and chips, too, didn’t he?
So Dwane brought up an interesting point when we were discussing Ed Davis after practice Tuesday and what Davis gave, or more importantly, didn’t give the Raptors on Sunday and what he needs to give them every night.
And if any of you thought Ed had a good game that day, it’s not an opinion shared by his coach.
“Against Oklahoma City, I thought he could have brought it more, competed harder, banged harder, got to the boards harder, a lot of things.
“He was the difference in the Portland game, he was the reason why Portland had to take off their blitzes on Jose and Kyle because he was knocking down shots. Those same shots he had against Oklahoma City he was turning them down. I can understand if he had missed two or three but he was turning them down before he even attempted them. He has to be aggressive, be focused, stay in the desperate mode, that hungry mode that he started his starting situation with and not lose that edge.”
You know who isn’t afraid to take those shots out of that position and who presents a threat that allows the guards to have more success.
Yeah, the Enigmatic Roman.
And Ed has to be more like Bargnani offensively; not taking three-pointers, that’s ridiculous, but by being a scoring threat from 15-feet every night.
Hang on a sec.
The dude they hired to be the head coach of the TFCs isn’t quite ready to be the head coach of the TFCs and might not join the team in his new gig until May?
Oh yeah, that’s a model way to run a sports franchise.
I remember sitting in the Lakers practice facility near the end of training camp as part of my visit with Steve Nash.
The tape recorder was off, we were just shooting the breeze about family and friends and just telling tales and he looked quite content as he said:
“I think this is going to be fun.”
Oh, what a difference less than three months makes.
Given the expectations and the roster, there is not a team more disappointing than the Lakers anywhere in the league, nor one in more disarray.
They are 15-18 and have to considered longshots to even make the playoffs, they are on their second coach of the season and are on a road trip today without Dwight Howard (shoulder), Pau Gasol (concussion) or Jordan Hill (hip).
They are a mess on and off court, I think everyone would agree.
But the funny thing?
I don’t get the sense that there are nearly as many people filled with glee at their misfortune than I would have thought.
No one’s laughing at the plight of the Lakers, at least not to the degree I would have expected given what’s occurred.
Odd, isn’t it?
Here was a team that simply spent and traded its way to presumed dominance, Howard whined his way out of Orlando after months to join one of the marquee franchises in the league and Nash and the Lakers management seemingly bamboozled Phoenix into what looked like a one-sided sign-and-trade to create the newest version of an NBA Big Three.
But no one hated them for it, it didn’t seem. There certainly wasn’t the same seething among fans as there was Miami built its roster; fans seemed kind of excited to see Nash run high screen-and-roll with Howard, pick-and-pop with Gasol while Kobe Bryant was Kobe Bryant with more talent around him than ever before.
But I’m guessing it’s because of the manner in which the group was formed. There was no The Decision; Nash had a very public dalliance with two other teams before landing in Los Angeles for reasons of family and while Howard weasled his way out Orlando, he didn’t immediately sign a long-term contract extension in Los Angeles.
Funny how things are can be pretty much the same and so very different.
What’s this I hear about new Bowie music out yesterday and a new album coming in March?
If there’s a tour, that would absolutely be a show I’d pay money to see.
Won’t be like these good old days, though.
Right, this is Tuesday, I’m home finally, the kids are back at school so that’s why I had to shuttle Super Son to school for his 7 a.m. start.
And whoever thought about starting classes at 7 a.m. needs to have a talking to.
Hang on a sec!
That’s, what, eight coaches in six seasons?
And here I thought the HOTH, who have had eight in the 18 years they’ve been around, were a model of instability.
Hell, looking around the offices over there, Dwane has to feel like Gregg Popovich or something given his tenure of almost two seasons.
What an organizations.
You know how sometimes I lament the absence of truly brilliant sportswriting these days?
And I think it’s disappeared mostly not because of the talents of those in the craft – we have true giants of all-time among us – but because in this day and age of immediacy and 24-hour news cycles and tweets and blogs and the interwebs it is virtually impossible for writers to have the time to truly delve into their subjects to get the kind of personal look needed.
Toss in the fact subjects are now so leery of writers – we are almost everywhere they turn, we are often too confrontational, too seeking of dirt rather than drama – and it makes for a perfect storm.
We don’t have the time or the space, they don’t have the willingness to open up; readers are the ones who lose out.
All this is a way of saying sportswriter – hell, writing as a craft of itself – lost one of the greatest of all-time yesterday with the passing of Richard Ben Cramer.
He was as gifted a political writer as ever walked the planet but that was not his limit.
This Esquire magazine story on Ted Williams is widely considered by many to be the best long-form sports story ever published.
You should read it; and lament the passing of its author.
Now I know why some people consider the American college football championship that sport’s version of the Super Bowl.
It was a dog of a game that didn’t come close to the hype.
And that, thankfully, gave me cause to switch over to watch Celtics at Knicks and that was as intense a regular season game as you’ll see for a long time.
And how’d it end?
Well, the dispatches say it ended with Carmelo Anthony trying to confront Kevin Garnett in the bowels of Madison Square Garden at the Boston team bus.
Of course, nothing came of it because nothing ever does – NBA players are the fauxest faux fighters of all time – but Anthony’s actions are sure to attract the attention of the league’s poobahs and a wee suspension wouldn’t surprise me at all.
And speaking of teams going off the rails … I have the Knicks as the next “good” team to have some serious issues.
Scott Skiles out in Milwaukee?
Colour me shocked.
Now, I have great friends who speak very highly of Skiles after covering him; I see a guy with a four-year contract and a 2 1-2 year “best before” date and I’m not at all surprised it happened.
Guess the corollary to “that’s why the play the games” would be “often, the best team wins” and, yeah, that’s what happened.
Not sure who it was but as we’re walking out of Dwane’s post-game thing, it’s said:
“You could get the all best ex-Raptors together and they couldn’t beat that team.”
Anyway, 1-2 so far on the homestand, 4-2 was the worst I thought they could go and a big week approaches.
So much for that idea
Don’t look for any change of the starting small forward, Dwane made pretty clear.
“I have all the confidence in the world in Pietrus. He’s doing a good job defensively, we try to mix it up. We have to have something coming off the bench, which we do.
“You win a couple of games and you don’t say anything about it but I like what he brings to the floor defensively. He has to be aggressive offensively and give us to it that way.”
So there you have it. Still not sure they’re getting enough but Dwane does make sense in that the way the rotations are working seems to be doing all right most nights, no sense messing it up.
Still, maybe a bit quicker hook would be a good idea some nights?
An interesting point
Dwane hit on it almost right off the bat post-game, affirming something we noticed pretty much all game.
When the Thunder defence got intense and they pressured every player in a halfcourt set, the HOTH pretty much froze. Not sure how many times we saw it – I’m guessing more than 20 – but instead of moving the ball, everyone waited for the stifling defence to get on them and then were dead.
Hardly the same style they used in all those wins and one of the more troubling aspects of the afternoon.
Today’s a big day for a handful of players on bubbles around the league; if they’re not waived, contracts become fully guaranteed and that’s why you’ll see a whole bunch of marginal players with non-guaranteed deals cut loose.
No one’s going anywhere. And with a full roster that includes three injured guys (Valanciunas, Bargnani and Kleiza; we won’t know anything about Ross until tomorrow since today’s a day off for them) there’s no real room to do anything anyway.
So we sit and wait until the next pressure point, February’s trade deadline.
A bit more?
Of course, including the big news!
How good am I?
Dismantled the Christmas tree and only broke three inconsequential ornaments doing it! None of the good stuff got busted.
A successful end to the holiday season, I’d say.
You know me and American college football, right? I have little interest all season – the bowl season bores me because there are so many – but I will admit to having a passing interest in the Notre Dame-Alabama game tonight.
Maybe the fact it’s for a championship – a fake championship but a title nonetheless, I guess – has something to do with it but it probably has as much to do with it being Notre Dame.
Maybe it was because we were inundated with Irish games when I was a kid – I remember a snowstorm Cotton Bowl with Joe Montana that was pretty good – and those kinds of things stick with you, don’t they?
I’m not saying tonight will be destination viewing but I do imagine a lot of people will stop and take a glance at least.
Besides, Notre Dame has a pretty good fight song, no?
So, the pucks are back.
I’m going to say this and then that’ll be about it for the whole sordid affair and I think I was close to this last year when the basketball settled.
Here are three things that need to happen:
Cut ‘em some slack
Every NHL team should, today, announce that the cost of every ticket to every game for this season will be cut by 15 per cent. That’s every single-game ticket, every season ticket, every mini-pack ticket and if people were silly enough to leave their money on account with any team during this mess, they need to get a rebate today.
And every team needs to pledge that there will be no increase in ticket prices for the 2013-14 season, too.
Help the people out
I don’t care where they find the money – licensing fees, TV money, take out a freaking loan or spend Gary Bettman’s or Don Fehr’s salary – but every part-time arena employee who was screwed over for money they needed through the fall and, especially at Christmas should be given a $5,000 bonus the first night they work this season.
They needed the money the league and union screwed them out of at a traditionally tough time of year and since everyone connected with the league is rich beyond the wildest imagination of mere mortals, it’s the least they can do.
And I’m talking about all arena people, ushers, ticket takers, concession workers, security people; all of ‘em.
Get out there
I don’t know the specifics of the standard players contract but if it calls for 10 public appearances for each player each season, each guy has to do 20 this year.
And for every one they blow off for whatever reason, they should pay a $20,000 fine.
Hey, I remembered!
Here’s how my friend Darnell chronicled that game for the Oklahoman.
So my man Coop The Photog snaps this on Friday night and since I’m one of the few who can communicate in Chicken, you should know we’re probably mocking something good-naturedly.
One of the greats passed away Jan. 5, 1988:
Pete Maravich was truly a wizard. You might compare him to Steve Nash or Magic. Unbelievable talent.
John C, Mississauga
A: He was incredible, I’m just sorry I didn’t get to see more of him as a player; saw a bunch, never saw him in person.
And I will say this although I’m sure there will be debate:
I cannot think of a player in a North American team sport who was as far ahead of his time than Pistol was.
Perhaps – maybe – you could make a case for George Mikan in basketball but I don’t know.
Q: Hi Doug -- there are a lot of ex Raptors (both coaching staff and players) around the league. Which team is deepest in ex Raptors?
Added bonus question -- from which other team are the most current Raptors (players or staff)?
Sheila C, Ottawa
A: Man, you made the research monkey (me!) work hard.
But you know what, it was interesting because there are only two teams with more than one ex-Raptor on the roster today.
And that’s Brooklyn with Hump and Reggie Evans and Dallas with Shawn Marion and that Carter fellow. Was interesting to look through the rosters, though. So, thanks, even if it did make me a bit later getting this done on Sunday night than I had hoped.
As for your bonus questions, I can’t find a team with more than two and several are tied with one.
Q: Doug: You have often commented on your lamentable wheels, namely your smelly Ford Focus. Clearly the Ford brand could be enhanced with some creative marketing. Could your bosses at the Star, in concert with the marketing department at Ford, work with your blog readers to provide you with a new vehicle? Imagine the promotional possibilities!
Craig B, Owen Sound
A: How cool would that be? Alas, am far, far, far down the pecking order and after Sunday’s pucks event, even further, I fear.
Q: Hi Doug! Good for Sonny. Nice to see things are apparently going so well for him overseas. And a good 'life lesson', too. You know, when life hands you lemons, you've got to learn to make lemonade. Better still, create a lemon meringue pie. While dancing the merengue.
So, as I watched Sonny sit in that hot tub with a gorgeous blonde whilst advertising pizza, it brings to mind a question for you. Let's say, waaaay back, when you were a young kid like Sonny, and say things hadn't worked out the way they have with The Star and say you'd decided to cast your lot overseas - where do you think you might've landed, and what would you be writing about?
Thank you. Now, since watching Sonny's ad, I've had a Beatles tune randomly pop in and out of my head. Something about 'Back in the USSR'. Remember it?
Lorie P, London
A: With my language skills, it’s have to Old Blighty or I’d be cooked. Truth is, unlike so many People Of This Vintage or slightly younger, I had no desire to go back-packing through Europe when I was done school, really held little allure to me.
I do recall, however, sitting at many a high school party and singing every word to almost every song on The White Album, now that you mention it.
Q: Hi Doug, it was interesting to see Ed Davis win the opening tip against Portland on Wednesday. He obviously has some serious jumping ability and perhaps he should have been given this opportunity earlier. Do they measure a player's vertical leaping ability? His short and mid-range jump shot has improved considerably and with his elevation, would seem almost unstoppable. Your thoughts?
Jim F, London
A: I’m not sure “almost unstoppable” is the way to put it; he could be pretty good if he makes a bunch of them.
And yes, they do testing on vertical jumping but it really doesn’t matter. The ability to jump when guarded or when some defender is in your face or grabbling your arm is what counts. Simply standing and jumping high might make you an athlete; doing it successfully in a game makes you a basketball player.
Q: Among all active players can you pick two All-Star Ex-Raptors teams, one East and one West? And which team you like better?
Aries C, Markham
A: I wish I could but I can say with absolute certainty, being the all-star, Hall of Fame hard ass that I am I cannot in any way find five in each conference that are even close to worthy.
Q: Hi Doug. Just read a great article by Tom Haberstroh about Lebron.
Very interesting read that lead me to think: Are we witnessing the emergence of the greatest player the game has ever seen? I think it's possible, which is a nice reminder that I should be watching more Miami games.
Colin K, Ann Arbor
A: It was a good piece and there is no question that LeBron should be, if he isn’t already, in that discussion. It is a joy to watch him play.
However, with the game so changed since the olden days, and sure to change in the future, a discussion is all that it is. Too hard to compare generations; a nice chat to have on stools, that’s about all it is. It’s fun, though.
Q: Hey Doug. Love your Raptors blog, read it every day.
I read this stat you had on your recent post and it made me wonder.
"Esoteric stat, Part 1: Toronto is averaging 25.8 assists (second in the NBA) and 10.8 turnovers (first in the NBA) in its last 10 games."
Where do you (you!) get your stats from? From a site, a colleague, a Raptors organization member? And is it safe for me to assume that these stats are crunched by the Raptors organization and then fed to the coaching staff? I imagine "Hey HOTH, you guys are first in turnovers over the last 10 days - take care of the ball!"
Darrick L, Toronto
A: Mostly from the team or the NBA website. They’re pretty available to almost anyone, actually. At least ones like those are.
And, believe me, the coaching staff knows those numbers and many, many, many more that the impart to the players before every game.
The turnovers one? Actually, first is best; the 10.8 were fewer in that span than any team in the league.
Q: Received any "Bring back Douby" comments?
More seriously, when do you think the importance of the 6th man emerged? Obviously, some of the greatest teams in history had some great 6th men but that can be more attributed to having 5 really good starters. In the present game, coaches and players, to some extent, really value this role with some 'starters' being relegated to 'the bench'. I also realize that there is a difference between being a starter and receiving starter minutes, but I think every player would still strive to be a starter and receive starter minutes. So what can you attribute to this slight change in culture? My knowledge of basketball history only dates back 20 years so I would have pointed towards Toni Kukoc? Just interested to know, thanks in advance.
Felix T, Denver
A: I think what some teams do is try to find a balance between starting units and backups and there’s no doubt that some players who you’d think “should” start (Manu Ginobili comes to mind) come off the bench for that reason. But in those cases – and look at stats for Amir Johnson, for instance, those guys do seem to put up “starters” minutes.
And it’s generally conceded that that first prominent Sixth Man was John Havlicek of the Boston Celtics.
Q: Given the current lack of bigs due to injury, do the raps think about signing someone to a 10 day contract or two to help them weather the storm? My first thought was who are they going to bring in that would be any help, let alone get up to speed in 10 days, but then it occurred that maybe Jamal Magloire might be a reasonable stopgap option - at least better than anything else they might pick up from the D-league. He knows the team and the system, he's a vet with legit NBA experience and he should be good for a few hard fouls a night. Or does his current role with the Raps limit him from playing.
Thanks, appreciate all your hard work.
Tim S, Anderson
A: Teams can’t sign players to 10-day deals until Jan. 10, for one; and the Raptors have a full roster and would have to waive someone to do it. That’s not something they’re inclined to do.
Good afternoon, everyone.
I had great intentions Saturday night of puttering around and getting this all finished and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Then the couch got comfortable, dinner was being digested and naptime came up very quickly. And after naptime, it was bedtime.
So, there’s lots I didn’t get to, I have a bunch of stuff to do here this morning before the game so take these 3,000 words worth of stuff and I’ll be back with about the same amount later tonight or tomorrow.
Sorry about that.
Q: Hi Doug. As a long time student of the game in particular and of life in general, I've wondered about with whom in the Raptor's history I'd like to spend time with talking about both. Mitchell, Embry and Wilkens seem to be the most intriguing. From your experience, who among the non-players, from assistants to GM's and advisors, would you choose to chat with about the game, and about politics, culture, society? You can list two groups if you wish.
Frank B, Toronto
A: You mean the proverbial dinner party? That’s always a good one.
With the proviso that all could speak the King’s English (that’s in the players’ spot) and that they all worked for the Raptors at one point, I’ll give you these:
A consultant in the early years, Coach Mac actually knew James Naismith. Fascinating man I spoke with often when he was around but not nearly enough.
Yes, we’ve spoken often about many things but in the context of this night, it’d be incredible, I bet.
He has worked all over the world, has stories of international basketball that are wonderful. He’s also worked for some of the richest men in the world at a very high level.
With all he’s done and all he’s been involved in, wouldn’t he be a natural?
Sure, his years here were a failure on the court but what a life he’s led.
Another part-timer, I hope he’d open up about opportunity wasted and lost and provide some cautionary tales I could impart to others.
What was life like in Mongolia? How strange a trip was he on.
And, thanks, this has given me a few ideas of how I’d like to expand some takeouts on current players if I can convince my bosses to invest the space.
Q: Hi Doug. Now that people are back on, would you "cast" the broken ankles, or use a couple of screws for all those band wagon jumpers?
What is a band wagon? Is it like the old mini-van?
Is JV working on shooting with his non injured hand?
Bob E, Kanata
A: Bandwagon? Or chuckwagon? And when someone says chuckwagon, what do you think of?
(Aren’t you worried about how my brain works? I am).
Q: Any news on the injury front? Is super son still out of action? Maybe he can visit dad at work and get some therapy!
John P, McLeod Hill
A: Thanks for asking.
He’s working out, doing his rehab like a dutiful patient. Sax playing has resume but buggy pushing for a living hasn’t and if I know him, the thing will flare up every time there’s snow to shovel.
Too bad for Super Wife, isn’t it?
Q: I know how much you hate discussing trades but i was wondering if you would chime in on the recent reports concerning the Lakers. Pau Gasol for Josh Smith? Also, have you ever considered Champix. I know a few people who swear by it. Terrence Ross is exciting for a one dimensional player isn't he?
Racket R, Toronto
A: Dude, or dudette, I’m not sure. I hate doing trade rumour stuff involving the team I cover, I’m sure not branching out into others. Sorry
And Ross is more than one dimension; I’d say one and half, he drives it okay for a rookie.
No, after consulting with my physician, Champix was not an option for a variety of reasons.
Q: Hey Doug. Could you and your intrepid research team give us an idea of when Team Canada will be playing again, and when the next major international events are?
I know it will be a little while but there are a ton of really exciting kids coming up right now and I can't wait to see how they look in red and white.
I'd also love to see some more coverage of the kids and their college exploits, most ball fans have heard Andrew Wiggins name but I think Stauskis Bennett and all the rest could still use some more local support.
I truly believe by the next Olympics we should be a force to be reckoned with.
Dave W, Toronto
A: Lots of interest all of a sudden this week on the national men’s and women’s teams. Each will play in qualification for the 2014 world championships later this summer. Dates and sites have yet to be firmed up and we’ll get ‘em to you when we can.
And I guess you missed the huge takeout we had in the paper this week on the Canadian men in the NCAA? Too bad, it was pretty good. Am sure if you search our site’s basketball page you’ll find it; sorry that with all your apparent interest in it that you missed it.
Yeah, I know it’s late but look at it this way: It’s five days into the new year and the resolution to get at least a little bit more rest is still alive.
Anyway, that was a stinker, right?
Bad game, bad play, never in doubt, Cousins was incredible and the locals got drilled.
It’s happened before, it’ll happen again. Big whoop. Spend a little time figuring out what went wrong and move on. There’s 59 more to go.
Had to happen
With two bigs, you had to figure it was only a matter of time before size, or lack thereof, finally caught up to them, right?
Yes, you can get away with Alan Anderson or Landry Fields as your fourth big against a lot of teams in the league but it’s obvious the Kings are not one of them.
Cousins, Thompson, Robinson and even the not tall but thick James Johnson did pretty much whatever they wanted to do all night.
Toss in the foul trouble that turned it into the worst night Amir Johnson’s had in maybe a full season and that made it even worse.
So, yes, they could have used Jonas Valanciunas for his size and six fouls and, yes, they could have used Andrea Bargnani for his size, six fouls (rip all you want but we’ve seen he’s not a bad one-on-one post defender) and his ability to draw bigs away from the basket to guard him.
But the night was an aberration, at least of late. Aaron Gray got in foul trouble, Johnson got in foul trouble, Quincy Acy tries but he’s over-matched and thing that worked so well for so many games – a small, somewhat unorthodox lineup – was ineffective.
It’ll be that way every now and then until they get a full complement of big men but that’s not likely to be until February.
Do not panic. Again.
It was, simply, one of those nights.
Bad matchup, a great player on the other team having an other-worldly night, couldn’t make a shot, couldn’t get a shot, played listless.
It’s going to happen.
And it’s going to happen again in the next 49 games, I promise you.
The two things everyone’s clamouring for when it comes to the lineup – and some of you were mighty impatient last as the chance at a 53-game winning streak to end the season vanished – don’t work.
You can’t take Aaron Gray out of the lineup, you need the 10 or 12 minutes he gives you to save wear and tear and fouls and minutes on Amir Johnson and Ed Davis.
You can’t take Mickael Pietrus out of the starting lineup because you need the two logical replacements – Landry Fields and Alan Anderson – to plug holes other places. Maybe – just maybe – you do Fields for Pietrus one day next week and find another way to massage minutes but this is going to be a month of minutes management and buying time until Valanciunas and Bargnani are back.
One of those nights, redux
So we laud DeMar DeRozan one day for his work and work ethic and the way he’s been playing and he goes out and lays a 3-for-11 egg with just 14 points (saved by an 8-for-10 night at the line).
He looked, like the all did, a split second slow, a second or two hesitant to move the ball and just out of sorts.
The one sign things weren’t working, and I hope you noticed, was the number of times they found themselves scurrying around to get up a shot as the 24-second clock got ready to expire.
Had to be a dozen, maybe more, and that’s because too many guys dribbled too long and too often and I know that’s a point Dwane is going to make rather forcefully today.
A wee bit more before I get into the day.
Okay, we called for The Picket Fence play and they never ran it, the bums.
But a lot of the IGBT Irregulars knew what it was and that made me proud.
And there is no question that Hoosiers is the best basketball movie ever made; it cannot be disputed, I’m afraid.
Sure, I giggled at Space Jam and Basketball Diaries was really good (the movie, not my piece from the London Olympics) and I’ll put Glory Road and Rebound (the Earl Manigault story) up there but, no, Hoosiers is and forever will be No. 1.
My day? It’ll involved a bit of sitting around and sitting around is boring with nothing to do. A lot of the mail’s been answered but there’s room for a bit more.
Okay, if this story I see about Lance Armstrong possibly coming clean and admitting he cheated is right, it will send off paroxysms of laughter around here.
Yes, we are a forgiving society and have so often given athletes and politicians and whoever a second chance when they’ve made mea culpas and admitted mistakes but, really.
How hollow is this going to ring and, yes, a lot of the ones we hear that cause forgiveness are fake but, wow, this guy?
If stories are to believed, and there are too many of them from too many different people, not only did Armstrong spend years vehemently denying what he might now may admit but he also spent those years trying to ruin the lives of so many people casting accusations that are now known to be true.
Look, the Livestrong organization does great work, money has been raised for cancer research was important (although if you have time to read this tome you may come to think differently) and he was a compelling figure in the sports world.
But the attacks on those who dared to question him, the vehemence with which he went after those people, the pain and hurt he caused while trying to protect a series of systematic lies just irks me no end.
We, as I said, can be forgiving of those who apologize and that is a good thing.
But at some point, maybe some need to say, “No, we don’t accept your apology or explanation. Go away.”
Doug Smith has been a sportswriter for more than 30 years, a journey that's included seven Olympic Games, numerous and varied championships and more dreary regular season games than he'd care to remember. Here, he'll talk about them all, as well as current events and pop culture. (Just don’t ask him about music nowadays — it's not his cup of tea).