The start of the weekend mail, and catching up with Canada
Bit of a preface first.
Necessary win for Canada down in Caracas on Friday, very little chance they could have rebounded from an opening-game loss to Jamaica so it had to feel good that they took care of business.
Talking with Jay on a conference call after and he mentioned the one troubling aspect was what we all saw: They could have put the game away in the third quarter and coasted home but they didn’t show enough mental resolve to make it truly easy.
But a win’s a win’s a win and it beat the alternative.
Far tougher task today and tomorrow – Puerto Rico on Saturday and Brazil on Sunday – and they’ll have to play better to have a shot.
Biggest task today will be keeping JJ Barea and Carlos Arroyo from wreaking havoc getting around screens into the paint, Canada did a good job defending screen-roll against Jamaica but Puerto Rico is just better at it.
But if they get the kind of game out of Cory Joseph that they did Friday, it’s a huge help. He played with poise and effectively and gave them the kind of necessary leadership we wondered about.
I’d say – and it’s impossible to handicap so take it for what it’s worth – that they need to get one of the weekend games and then beat Uruguay on Tuesday to make it relatively easier to earn one of those four berths in the World Cup.
And this is how we’ll keep tabs on this team for a few days, I’m ostensibly on vacation and as every smart HR person in the world will tell you – and I know a few – taking the days owed at the company’s insistence is important for everyone.
So no stories for the paper but this is an added bonus in the job so we’ll keep up here until I’m actually back on the clock.
My good friends at Canadian Press will have the stuff for the print edition, I’ll use the tweeter and here to chime in, for what it’s worth.
And now …
Here’s today’s mail, a bit left for tomorrow but since I plan stool time this afternoon to watch the game and the night’s dead, all kinds time for more if you get to firstname.lastname@example.org and there’s many folks I need to hear from.
Q: Good day Doug,
Love the column, read it as often as I can and I REALLY appreciate you trying to give all of us basketball fans some sort of info, no matter how trivial, in the dead of summer!
I just read your piece about the difference in the "experience" of being in an arena as opposed to at home. I have been a fan of the Raps since they began and have probably made it down to about 20 games over the course of that time. Partly because of the cost of going to a game and all that is included in that cost (tickets, drinks, food, parking and/or GoTrain tickets, etc...) The other part is exactly what you outlined. The replays, the breakdown, the stats through the course of a game, analysis and so on. Of all the games I have attended, the most memorable was the night that Toronto beat the Bulls in overtime in '96. To be there and witness that, was incredible. However, if you are there, even against a team like the Lakers or Heat, if it's a 97-80 final score (even win or lose sometimes) the "experience" is good, but not always great.
If there were some sort of App for the Raptors (and every other team) fans to track stats, injuries, ref's calls, than you could have more of that added home experience mixed with being there. ***If this gets created, I want a cut***
Darryl S, Oshawa
A: I think there is an APP for that, it’s the IGBT at thestar.com. Come on over, we have a hoot and there’s all kinds of information, fun and frivolity.
You never know what great and wonderful things will come as a result. Your life could be exponentially better as a result.
Q: Hello Ex Mighty Coach. It appears the bubonic plague is back. There is strife in the middle east. Yosemite is on fire. The Conservatives are still in power. Gas is going up to $1.70 per litre. Canadians are more in debt than ever. Quebec is uniting it's people by pissing them off.
And we are concerned about Rudy Gay's eyesight.
Bob E, Kanata
A: Yeah, there’s a bit of a priority skew going on around us, isn’t there?
But the bubonic plague got me. What’s next? Scurvy and ricketts?
Q: Doug, I've read several articles about Rudy Gay's eye situation and operation, but nothing that indicates whether it has been a success in terms of eliminating his vision problems, and whether he can actually see the basket better as a result. He's been practicing, so I would assume that his recovery is pretty far along.
Have you heard anything about the success of the operation, in either general or basketball-specific terms?
A: Speaking of …
And I don’t mean to make light of questions about this, they are legit.
Yes, as we mentioned back when he had the out-patient procedure, it was a success. I did not see Rudy in person when I was out in Vegas because I missed him by a few days but I was told by Dwane and other staff members that he was fine.
I would suggest him working out seemingly with no issues alongside teammates and under the auspices of the team’s staff would suggest he’s fine.
It’ll be one of the first stories out of the gate when things get started but I would suggest any concern is unfounded.
Q: Staropramen? What other European beers do you enjoy Doug? My all-time fave is Pilsner Urquell.
A: I’ve had a few Pilsner Urquells in my day and it’s not bad. I like to vary my tastes, to tell you the truth. I’ll have the odd Moretti, which is better on draft than it is in a bottle, as my experience would say; there’s usually a Peroni around and I’ll grab up a Bavaria or two just to have in the fridge.
That a good enough list?
Q: Hi Doug,
How you keep finding topics to chime in on each and every day of the summer is beyond me. Actually, Bill Simmons on his podcast to Zach Lowe told Zach the other day, "This is amazing, you've managed to do the impossible and make the NBA interesting in mid-August..." by ranking the NBA team names 30-1 (I think Raptors is 22, which I feel is just about right).
Rather than talk about team names (which I can do: I think it's a shame New Orleans went to Pelicans and didn't usurp Jazz from Utah and I love the suggestion of the Clippers becoming the Hollywood Knights), I'd rather get your take on Grantland and Simmons. I really enjoy the BS podcast and he does have an inordinate amount of knowledge about all sports, particularly for a young-ish guy.
It seems to me that you might have a conflicted opinion about his work (or, to take the focus and personal aspect out of it, so that I don't put you in a bad place with Bill if you know him), and that of Grantland.
On one hand, some of the long-form journalism they do is excellent, which comes because they don't have to worry about word counts and article length. That leads to a lot of digressions, but they're quite good bringing the reader along
for the ride. But on the flip-side, they (and Bill in particular) often write as fans of the game, fans of teams. They have a vested interest in having the Clippers and Celtics win and, while they don't pull any punches, it only takes a twitter battle between Bill and Doc Rivers to show it can cloud their judgement a bit.
At that time, Doc said it, "Is Bill even qualified to do basketball?" While that was a dig, I don't think it's far off-base: Grantland provides quality entertainment and sometime educational pieces (I love Zach Lowe's writing about the NBA, and there's always the piece exposing the Raptors' analytics), but Bill Simmons is doing games and analysis on ESPN even though he clearly displays his fandom, even on the telecasts.
Pure entertainment? Journalism? Or do they epitomize the blurred line that sometimes exists between the two? Would you have interest in doing some freelance work for them, if they asked?
David T (Ottawa)
A: I read Grantland all the time, actually. Maybe not when things are first posted but it’s often a nice, relaxing read near the end of the day and I like the long-form stuff an awful lot.
Wish I had the time to do some for our website, a goal this year is to try and do more.
As for Bill? I know him a little bit, we’ve met, worked on an NBA all-star ballot together one year and I admire his writing quite a bit.
But you’re right. He is a fan and that’s his gig and a bit of a schtick and I don’t know that it’s proper place is a pre-game network show. There is a huge blur in the line between analysis and entertainment and I don’t know if that show, and he, are able to pull it off to best serve the viewers.
However, that’s the way things are going these days and I don’t think you can put that genie back in the bottle.
Write for them? Would depend on a couple of things: The rate and whether my paper wanted the same story first.
Q: Hi Doug
I'm a raptors fan and enjoy your blog. Not much going on with the Raptors right now so i have a question about your taste in music. I have seen the Pogues (Fairy tale of N.Y.) Pink Floyd (Wish you were here) and today Steve Earle (Copperhead Road) all stuff I love and we cover in a band I play in. My question is do you have a huge CD collection or do you have the music in your memory and bring it out as the situation dictates. Thanks
A: No, not a huge collection at all. I have a solid iTunes library and just listen to whatever pops up and I have smart friends who point me in different directions.
But I do also have a long memory and sometimes early in the morning my mind just clicks on something.
No, I can’t quite figure it out, either.
Q: Hi Doug, thanks again for all the great work you do.
I saw a brief video of Rudy Gay working with the Dream on his post moves.
Do you think this is something that Rudy or the Raptors would have initiated? Hopefully it is a sign of things to come.
A: I think it was probably a matter of convenience when both were in the same city; I know Hakeem charges for his time – a six-figure weekly fee, I’ve been told – and I don’t think the Raptors, who employ a handful of coaches who are out working with players all summer, would be interested in footing that bill. And, frankly, someone needs to tell me who, exactly, Hakeem has turned into a great post player? I love the guy and he’s one of the top big men ever, I don’t think he’s a proven coach quite yet.
And, equally frankly, I don’t see Rudy Gay as a post player on a team that employs Jonas Valanciunas.
Q: Hi Doug,
Quick question and I hope you have room. I was reading your blog today and a question came up. Is it possible for Canadian universities to get membership in the NCAA?
If it is the case, what’s the process like and do you think in the future we will see Canadian universities in huge tournaments such as March Madness (a stretch I know)?
I recently graduated university and have never felt the passion about my university (UofT) as some of the students in the states do but would love to as a alumni one day.
A: I know there were mild inquiries about a decade ago – maybe more – from McMaster about joining an American conference but it never amounted to anything. And I can’t see what’s to be gained? Better competition, sure, but at what cost? It’d be a financial burden schools needn’t bear, it’d be a slap in the face of the CIS and you’d be operating under NCAA rules governing schooling, eligibility, practice time and the various other arcane and oft-idiotic rules that evil group has. I say stay here and make sports better at the CIS level.
And isn’t the fact you don’t have passion for your alma mater more an issue for you? Go to games, get involved, support your school, urge classmates to do the same. Things might change for the better.