The end of the weekend mail, and some game stuff
Maybe it’s not so bad that there isn’t an awful lot of mail since there was actual basketball to watch yesterday.
Well, not actual basketball but intrasquad basketball and while no one should put any stock in what happened in Halifax there were some things that should be pointed out.
Good things and not so good things and as you’ve hopefully woken gently this good morning, here are three of each.
I’ll probably write more about him later today or tomorrow but he was, to me, the most impressive guy out there. I really liked his passing ability, especially in traffic. Again, I have no idea if that translates into real games against real NBA opponents but it was good.
He made a bunch of three-pointers (I don’t have my boxscore so I’m not exactly sure how many) but his delivery did look more smooth and he shot it with confidence.
There had been two practices Tuesday, two practices Wednesday, one practice and a flight Thursday, two practices Friday and a quick session Saturday morning before the game. That’s a grind right out of the game but they all played hard and were aggressive defensively and that was kind of impressive. They didn’t loaf.
Not so good
He wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong and I think he will be fine. But he is noticeably bigger through the arms and the chest and I’m not sure he’s comfortable running in basically a new body. He looked a bit slow. I’m sure it’ll come and he made some shots so that’s a good thing but he’s got to get more fluid.
He looked tired. Yes, he had some solid moments, a couple of big blocks and he made a few nice short-range shots but he was dragging at times. Could be, as Dwane said, just jetlag but he could perk up a bit.
One guy missing
Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing and it’s certainly not going to be an issue but not getting to see how Tyler Hansbrough fits in was tough.
He had a bit of a tight hamstring after the workout before the scrimmage and they held him out as a precaution. Totally expect him to play on Monday night in Boston and that’s fine.
Okay, that’s that for now; it’ll be far more interesting to see them against other NBA opposition on Monday in Boston. But even that is too early to draw any conclusions from, I don’t think we’ll get the true measure of this group until mid- to late-November.
And now, the mail.
Oh and since Boston hotels were about a billion dollars a night on this trip for some reason, we’re at a Courtyard in Cambridge and if anyone’s got anything near there to watch baseball, I’m all ears. Thanks.
Enjoy the leftover mail.
Q: Doug, let me start by stating that I watch all four major North American team sports (I don't think soccer has reached that plateau, but just IMO).
And of the four, basketball is probably my favourite. However, the game has a major flaw, again imo, caused by fouls. It is the most difficult sport to call fouls, and they have a big influence on the flow and outcome of the game. In close games, the other three sports can consistently produce more excitement due to the number of NBA games that come down to foul shooting contests. I'm not saying this ruins the sport, I still enjoy and clearly so do many others. It's just that as I often think of baseball as the perfectly designed game, with no clock, limited contact to officiate, and the dimensions of the bases ideally matching the talents of the players, the foul stands out as the weak link in basketball.
Question is, and even if you disagree with its impact, have you ever had or heard an opinion as to what might be changed to alleviate the influence of fouls?
Gary M, Ottawa
A: I’ll be trite: Get players not to commit them.
I agree that fouls are an issue and there are officiating inconsistencies that play a huge role but they are also part of the game. I would advocate for players not fouling out – or at least be given an extra foul in each overtime period of any game – but other than that, they are simply in the fabric of the game, which is still quite wonderful.
I would totally agree that baseball is excellent in that regard but that’s baseball and this is basketball and never the twain shall me, as they say. They are apples and radishes.
I don’t think anything can change to alleviate the influence of fouls, just as nothing can change to alleviate the influence of missed shots. They are in the game.
With the 20 local writers that are at a home game, what are their media?
How many formerly covered games before the web? How many of them are paid for writing? Do you think that there is a decrease in the number of writers that can make a living reporting these days? Do you think that as with the basketball jones, bloggers can hold a hope of turning hobbies into jobs?
A: Twenty was a bit of a guess but let’s go through them. There’s usually two of us from the Star and the Sun each, someone from the Globe, the Post, CP and AP, a couple from the team’s website, web sites for Sportsnet and TSN and maybe another one or two. There are people who freelance for things like NBA.com and maybe three or four other sites. I’d say it’s at least 2-1 in favour of websites, maybe 3-1, and none of them existed when I started.
They all get paid, some freelance rates, some are salaried staffers but none of us is getting rich doing it.
And the Basketball Jones guys are hard working and talented and it took them a long time to get truly established. So, yes, there is hope but it’s a long, hard slog.
Longtime reader here. You asked about the weekend articles and I thought I would give you my quick two cents. The weekend mail is a lot more fun if you've actually asked a question. One thing to remember is that the type of
person who is most likely to write to you and say "the weekend mail is great!" is also the type of person who sends you questions. For your regular irregular who only asks a question once in a red, or purple moon, it's an entry that is much more likely to be scanned through or sometimes lkip altogether. Other readers who I've talked to have said the same things. I think the weekend mail is a great thing that you do, but I think
you can definitely do it justice in one day. In the past I remember you pushing it to Monday when Sunday was post-game and that always seemed great. Thanks for trying to keep fans sane through the off-season.
A: I’m not entirely sure what you’re talking about or who you’re talking to.
I would guess I answer 95 per cent of the questions I get over the course of the week and I don’t quite understand “the weekend mail is a lot more fun if you’ve actually asked a question.” That’s not on me.
But I’m glad you like it and I presume once the season starts we’ll do only Sunday mornings because Saturday mornings will be post-game stuff.
Q: I know it is still training camp and practice, but how did the June Taylor Dancers look during the intrasquad game? Who worked on their dance over the summer? I won't ask who put on weight? Are they in game shape?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: Well, the sent a skeleton crew, only about six or seven, but they looked in mid-season form, the rookies seem to be blending in well and I think they’ll be just fine. Am sure they’re working on new systems and schemes and plays but for the first game out of the gate, they were solid.
Q: Hello Doug,
When it comes to this rebranding, any indication of the colour scheme or recreation of the dinosaur floating about? If not, what would you like to see? I would think the current red and white is as Canadian as it comes, yet colour seems to be the main target. The claw, to me, was a great morph from the original Barney, as it had a slight maple leaf look to it. I'm sure you REALLY don't care, but if you were to put your artist's tam on, what would your Toronto Raptors be sporting in 2016?
Ryan, St Thomas
A: They are so early in the process that there is nothing in the way of colours or look at all and they wouldn’t tell me if there was I don’t think.
Me? You want me to come up with something? My, um, taste is dubious but what the heck.
I like the claw, actually. I might make it a bit more linear so it looks a bit more imposing but it would by far be my primary trademark.
And I’m staying with red and black; I might find a way to get some blue in there somewhere but not too much because, say, red, white and blue is too American. If they want to capitalize on the Canadian-ism, red has to be it, doesn’t it?
Q Well, Hello, Doug!
Mick and the boys sang of a "19th Nervous Breakdown", but rather than apprehensive you seem positively positive and optimistic at the start of this season. How do you do it? Really, I'm impressed.
And as upbeat and enthused as you are about Season Nineteen, I'm wondering if you recall how you felt at the start of the very first Raptor season?
And borrowing from that format where we impart whatever wisdom we've gleaned to our younger self (you, know - "Twelve Life Lessons To Share With My 12-Year Old Self", "Things I Wished I Known Before I Started High School", or my favourite "Wait! I Wore That? Or Five Fashion Flops I Should've Avoided [platform flipflops, velour trackpaints with your name on the butt, the "Hobo Chic" look - you can be one or the other but not both at the same time...anyway....).
So, my question - what advice would you like to pass on to your Rookie Grunt Self? Bits of advice, guidance, tips that might've made things easier or more fun or less stressful?
Lorie P, London
A: First and most important word of advice:
Don’t take yourself too seriously at all. You are a conduit more than an expert, do not become part of the story, stay above the fray and tell good tales, don’t preach.
And that’s about it.
Now, I would add learn to pack light, forget about a life for seven or eight months a year and learn how to catch catnaps on flights. Oh, and join the Marriott rewards program and maybe a car rental program as well.
And always – always – buy the old guy the first post-game round.