The end of the weekend mail
Kicked the crap out of another Saturday, which is rapidly becoming my favourite day of the week.
And got this done during the football game so I could figure out how to monitor the women’s basketball game while watching the Argos. Hope I had success.
Anyway, we might have to think about a scheduling change now that the basketball season is upon us and at least one weekend morning is likely to always be taken up by post-game stuff. Any suggestions?
On a long, early flight, will get to whatever comments there are when after I land.
Happy Media Day Eve.
Q: Hey Doug, I know positions are more situational than they have been in the past and I know Amir can do yeoman's work in the paint. But what do you think about the backup "C" position for the raps this year (and the last couple). Seems like it's thin...what if either Val or Gray go down for a couple games?
A: I’m not one to really differentiate between centres and power forwards these days, the game is evolving so much that it’s just “big” and “wings” now so I don’t think it’s a big concern.
There are actually all kinds of options available to Dwane at those two spots – he could use Rudy Gay, Tyler Hansbrough, Steve Novak or even Austin Daye or Quincy Acy at one of those spots when he doesn’t have both Valanciunas and Johnson on the floor together. Heck, we saw instances of Landry Fields in the frontcourt at times last season and may again.
But, yes, injuries would be an issue but there’s not much you can do about that except adapt when they hit.
Q: Hey Doug
Interesting idea regarding London and the NFL. Can you enlighten us on how football teams travel? During your time as Argo boy, do you know how the teams spend their time in between games? When the Raptors go on a West Coast road trip, they stop in San Antonio, LA, San Francisco, Portland, etc. before heading back home. But, that trip is usually less than a week.
With football schedules, a multi-city road trip would last weeks. The players must fly back home after each game. Would that mean that the inclusion of London would mean the NFL would need to realign to be more geographically feasible? I'm sure they would want to avoid too many West Coast to London flights?
A: In the vast majority of cases, teams commute to road games if they play away two weeks in a row; it’s not that big an issue in the NFL because most teams go “home” on the Sunday night.
There have been cases – the Argos in Alberta this week, I think it was the San Francisco 49ers last year who stayed out east to practice – of teams staying on the road but that’s rare.
And I think the NFL, if it ever got to that, would find a way to schedule west coast teams to play on the east coast before they were to travel to England.
Q: Now that August's listlessness has come and gone and it's decision time to buy or not to buy on the Raptor front. It has been very quiet.
Have you received any indication what Masai will focus his energies toward to get to where he wants to go? Bryan improved the infrastructure internally and surrounded himself with very good basketball minds.
There is a good core of talent. I thought they might have focused too much on statistical gaps, ie offence last year. Like to see the tenacity displayed during Mr. Casey's 1st year challenging each possession.
Overall I think the basketball organization is very sound. Very interested where Masai wants to take it.
A: Masai’s been pretty consistent with his message since he first took over and reiterated it when he spoke with Cathal this week. He’s not quite sure what he’s got so he’s going to sit back and watch a bit first before deciding precisely what he might want to do.
And Dwane has been consistent since July with his wish to get back to the defensive-minded approach of his first year, a tact that can hide a few offensive inefficiencies.
Q: Hello Doug
As I compose this Friday afternoon - a couple of hours before our SWNT takes on Puerto Rico in the FIBA Americas semi-finals - the TV broadcast schedules for the various Sportsnet stations still indicate that at the time of their game they will instead be airing WWE Vintage Collection on SN360, the Blue Jays playing a meaningless game on SNO and the Red Sox vs the Orioles on SN1. Yuck. And Grrr. I don't get it. What does our wonderful women's team have to do beyond go 4-0 at the tourney, demolish their opposition by an average of 34 points and be a single win away from securing a place in the World Cup to get some decent TV coverage? Saying "It's not fair!" is a tired and trite response from this long-time supporter of women's basketball. But, dammit, it's not fair. This team deserves much better treatment. If 'growing the game' in this country is something various MLSE Tall Foreheads are really serious about, a solid place to start doing so is by showcasing our SWNT. On a real channel, not a specialty one to which many people do not subscribe. Anyway, end of rant. For now.
A couple of questions about the SWNT. First, while you're doing your Argo duties in Edmonton, do you think you'll have time to visit their new home at The Saville Centre? And what, if any, permissions, adjustments to NCAA or various club team commitments did the SWNT have to obtain before embarking on their FIBA Americas journey? Thank you. And, thank you for the continuing reporting you do on women's basketball in Canada.
Lorie P, London
A: Nah, with the work I had to do and the loafing I had to do and the chatting I had to do over the course of the trip, there was no chance to get out to the team’s home.
As for the NCAA and CIS schools, there is a lot of communication between Canada Basketball officials and the staffs at the school – Notre Dame for Natalie Achonwa and Justine Colley at St. Mary’s chief among them – and they make sure both sides are satisfied with things like scheduling, etc.
I know Natalie missed a bit of the last camp before Mexico because of school class obligations and she actually travelled on her own from South Bend to Xalapa while the team got there from Edmonton through Toronto.
So I’m not sure it’s “permission” as much as it is “co-operation.”
Q: Doug, I know most of the attention is rightly on Rap's five expected starters in terms of projecting the team's success. But amongst the bench complement, which player do you think would have the biggest impact by having a career best season? Fields due to his versatility and perhaps having trade value? Ross becoming a valid 3D option? Hansbrough by deepening the bigs rotation? Novak by stretching the floor? Or Augustin by both relieving and applying pressure on Lowry? Or someone else?
Gary M, Ottawa
A: There are two, in my opinion, who are more important than the others.
They need Ross to show some kind of consistency and an indication that he “gets it” more in his second season and I think they need Augustin to push Lowry and to play a significant role.
Those are two I’ll be watching closely.
Does Mills return to the Knicks insinuate that Isaiah once again has Dolan's ear? Why would they kick out Grunwald after what he did for that team with limited wiggle room.
Any chance GG returns to Toronto? Say as VP to MU? Can we still have a parade for him for getting the Knicks to take AB?
Was the Grunwald removal a direct result of them taking Bargnani?
A: You know what? If I could figure out how the Knicks ownership thinks, I’d sell the knowledge to New York beat grunts and make a billion dollars because that’s the most dysfunctional and odd group I’ve ever come across.
To go back to the guy they once demoted and who oversaw the darkest period in the franchise over the last 50 years boggles my mind.
Not sure if Glen would ever resurface here, and I think Masai has his team in place, but he’s a good man and a good NBA executive and someone will find something for him.
I always thought he was too classy for the Knicks and I’m more sure of that now than I’ve ever been.
Isiah? There are those who say Isiah’s been in Dolan’s ear all along, don’t think this changes that at all.
What are your thoughts about the firing of Glen Grunwald as GM of the Knicks? It seems to me that he managed to make the Knicks a better team than they had been in a long time. I have always respected his abilities from the time he was in Toronto. Is there any chance he gets brought in to work under Ujiri (I know the Knicks are keeping him on as an "adviser", but how long will that last)?
A: I think it was wrong-headed, I have yet to see an explanation as to why and no one I know has offered a viable reason, either.
I chalk it up to the basic dysfunction of the Knicks organization and think, in the long run, he’ll be better off out of that group.
Q: Hi Doug.
Tyler Hansbrough probably fits in the category of 'players you can't stand unless they are on your team' but I was wondering if Dwayne Casey will ask him to tone down his tenacity or do you think he is just what the coach wants this year?
Trevor B, Saskatoon
A: I don’t think so, unless any antics hurt the team. But if that’s the way he plays, it’s the way he plays and coaches won’t ever want to temper stuff unless there is some cost. Then? Then perhaps a riot act will be read, until then it’ll be Tyler As Usual, I would presume.
Q: Well another season is about to begin and I was wondering what the team is doing to reduce games lost to injury? It's kind of funny how the players seem to be able to survive the off season with hardly a bump or bruise but start training camp and the injuries start to pile up. Granted the cast of characters has changed since the end of last season but missing 190 to 200 games due to injuries tend to derail a season in a hurry.
A: They’re doing what they do every year, set up training programs and do as much preventative work as they can but injuries happen; it’s impossible to guard against a guy turning an ankle or spraining a joint. That’s just the breaks of the game and teams that have good fortune with few injuries have better seasons.
But this team does have one of the best training staffs in the game led by the well-respected Alex McKechnie so their programs are solid.
And, no, you don’t get a lot of off-season injuries because players are taking it easy and the toll on their bodies is minimal but there are some. The Washington Wizards have lost two guys now to injuries picked up in those “informal” workouts and we all remember the Ed Davis fiasco here.
Q: Hi Doug
Reading your blog from today regarding your cell phone comment, I'm 35 years old and refuse to own a cell phone. My friends think I'm nuts. I cannot stand it when people are fixated on their phones over dinner with family/friends, or any social gathering for that matter. I think it's very rude. Ex: I was at Wonderland a few weekends ago. In line all the kids did was stare at their phones!! When they should have been laughing, screaming, trying to get the other sexes attention, all in all just having a good time with their friends but no they were just mindless zombies staring at phones. Why do kids need phones? When I was a teen the only kids that had phones (beepers, remember those?) where dealers, why else did you need a phone at that age? Anyways, my point is people need to put away the phone when they are out with people and interact with them live as oppose to over a device. As for me, I'm a successful worker in the corporate world and when I go away on business and need a phone, I just get a company supplied one, and hand it in as soon as I get back.
So my BBall question. Do you think Demar will have a break out year? I think he showed last year that he's a capable passer and very much up his assist totals near the end of the year. If he's able to develop a consistent jump shot from the perimeter I think he would be unstoppable. What do you think?
For your musical ears, seen this great band open up for The Specials earlier this summer. They are called Little Hurricane. Girl and Guy duo from San Diego, met on Craigslist a few years ago and have been touring together ever since. Excellent bluesy/rock music, a must listen. You will enjoy.
Everyday reader, Dan from Don Mills
A: I’m not sure “breakout” is the right word for a guy with his experience but I do think it’s vital to the team’s fortunes that he be better. I expect him to have improved his shooting range, I know Dwane will demand more defensive accountability and consistency and I think there’s a way to give him a chance to operate in the post. I guess if he did all of that it’d be considered a “breakout” season in some regards, I’d just see it as a natural progression of a veteran.
But he’s never going to be “unstoppable” because no one outside of the true superstars are but he can be, and needs to be, better.