On the roster, the conditioning and the focus after a quiet night
Was good to be around a night HOTH practice last night, a far smaller media gathering than shows up in the afternoon allows for some quasi-private time with players, coaches, bosses and henchmen and I’m glad I got talked into going.
Now, it’s not like we get to see them work more, we got into to see them stretching at the end of the workout (yes, it’s as riveting as you’d think) but there was a lot of time to chat with people and find out what’s been going on behind the closed doors.
A few things from various conversations, and remember it’s only two days in so there’s lots of work to do and lots of chances for things to change.
There is no leader in any kind of “race” for the 15th roster spot between Carlos Morais, Julyan Stone and Chris Wright but it would seem that they are indeed going to fill that final spot with someone on a non-guaranteed contract. Not sure why except it provides another practice body and waiving someone on a non-guaranteed deal is easy if a deal comes up.
Everyone seems to be lauding the conditioning of the players, and that’s from coaches to outsiders who get to sit in and watch.
Yes, I know, they should all be in tip-top shape all the time but that’s not how it works, unfortunately.
But Kyle Lowry’s lost weight (as we mentioned here the other day), Rudy Gay looks far thicker through the shoulders and arms, Jonas Valanciunas is way bigger as he grows up and Dwane went out of his way to mention how fit everyone is. It allows for fuller, better scrimmages and that can’t hurt.
If there’s one thing about Valanciunas it’s that I was told he looked “tired” during some of the workouts. Asked Dwane about it, whether it could be residue from his long summer of summer league play and national team commitments and Casey said, no, it’s likely just jetlag since the kid just got back at the start of the week. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
And it was like a Flashback Day to Year 1 of the Casey era to hear him talk about defensive toughness and a defensive presence and seeing how well that actually worked two years ago, fans should probably like that. He said they’re probably doing 80 per cent of their work on the defensive end right now and, for the moment, all the players have bought it.
Now, it’ll be nice to get away for a few days with fewer people around and more of this stuff might come up in quiet conversations.
The hoarding was out at the arena last night when I went into practice, asked the kindly security guard what concert was when and what fans they had to keep in line.
He tells me it’s these guys and I think, right, I knew that because I know people who know things.
Had this on the tweeter yesterday but I know more than a few of you don’t pay attention to that because you don’t care who had what for lunch or other mundane things (I’m @smithraps, though) so here it is again.
The vastly talented guys from The Basketball Jones are going bigger time (they were already big, this is bigger) because they’re now The Starters and have more resources, hopefully a bigger audience and a higher profile.
Was a loooooong time ago that my man Chris Young turned me on to these guys, who worked from and with nothing and became a phenomenon.
It’s a good story of perseverance and a Canada basketball story that rivals any we’ve told about players over the years. These guys are good and funny and will thrive now; hard work does pay off.
A patio day????
How good was that?
I can’t tell you how good. And unexpected. Weather’s weird but I’ll take a yesterday any time.
Okay, Haligonians. Henry House for dead certain – Jack Armstrong and I had a great afternoon there a year ago as he reminded me this week – but what else we got? A place to watch football and baseball tonight would be good, maybe an afternoon place to work on mail?
Speaking of …
Not an awful lot of good stuff in the inbox so far for this week, pick it up good people! It’s askdoug@thestar, as we all know.
Speaking of questions, remember when I was asked last week about any changes at the arena for the coming season and I said I didn’t think there were too many?
Well, there’s one. A big one and it’s a bit personal so hang with me here.
There is no more courtside seating for the print media, they have redesigned the sidelines to sell more high-priced tickets.
Now, I don’t have a big problem with that, it’s the way the league is going, I think there might be two gyms around where we sit between the benches on the sidelines, we’re either on the baseline, in a corner or up near the top of the lower bowl.
The Raptors? Well, they don’t care a lick about us and don’t really care about league rules, it would seem.
Because they did not think this out and because the facilities people and team marketing people here and at the league level don’t care and didn’t think, we might end up in corner of the bar at the highest level of the west end in a Leaf Alumni lounge that will be inadequate the Nth degree.
League rules say top of lower bowl; these will be – without question – the worst media seats in the NBA and it’s all because no one at the marketing or facilities level of MLSE cares about the league rules or had enough forethought to make things right in the four or five months since they decided to make the change.
It will make our jobs harder, it will go against league rules and I hope someone pays a hefty fine if they don’t figure it out.
End o’ rant.
So we wake up Wednesday morning to stories about the Canadiens guy and the concussion and more hand-wringing about senseless violence in hockey and I wake up this morning to read about Patrick Roy trying to fight some other coach or something?
Helluva start to the season.
Okay, easy flight I hope, I gain an hour but the morning will be spent away from the machine so we’ll get to any comments when we get to any comments.
The dream of a Bucs-Rays World Series lives!