Everybody have a nice weekend? Great weather, lots of time for yard work and tasty veal chops on the barbecue. Sweet. But also lots of time to talk on the phone and gather some wee nuggets some of you might like.
Everybody ready to get up nice and early tomorrow to watch Canada-Slovenia?
I’ll be here, six bells, with the TV on thanks to The Score and Canada Basketball. Oh, and the coffee on, too.
I really don’t know what Canada’s chances are for the simple reason that no one knows how good the competition is going to be.
I fully expect them to win at least one, and maybe two, of their first round games, which gets them either Croatia or Puerto Rico in the all-important quarter-final on Friday.
Croatia’s an unknown for sure, they’ve got guys you’ve never heard of who I’m sure can play, and Puerto Rico’s got Carlos Arroyo and J.J. Barea and that’s a pretty good backcourt.
I know I always say we’re not supposed to be fans in this gig but a big chunk of me would love to see Canada do well.
The front line of Sam Dalembert and Joel Anthony can matchup with any in the tournament and I’d say Rowan Barrett, Olu Famutimi, Carl English and David Thomas are solid on the wings.
If it comes down to point guard play, Jermaine Anderson’s shown he can handle the gig but I wonder about his backups. Tyler Kepkay has never, ever been in anything like an Olympic qualifier and Canada used Andy Rautins a bit at the spot in the exhibition series. He’s not a true point guard and missed the final game in Germany because, I was told, of a jammed thumb.
Tough task, no question. But at least it gives us a week of Canadian basketball to talk about and that’s not a bad thing.
You all know what I think about the Summer League so take this anyway you like …
Remember the name Jaycee Carroll.
He’s the kid added late to the Raptor summer league team, combo guard out of Utah State who made a pretty bold statement with 14 points in about four minutes of Saturday’s game.
I have no idea if he can stick in the NBA but the kid killed playing for New Jersey in Orlando and is starting to turn some heads.
Including, according to my man Dave D down in Newark, that of Nets honcho Rod Thorn.
"If he can play some combo guard, at the end of the day – if he can be a 1 for a few minutes a night – I think he is (an NBA player),” Thorn said. “He’s giving up size at the two-guard. But he’s a very competitive kid, and he has a real quick release. He’ll make some shots. But whether he can guard those guys will be the key. If he improves his ball-handling … we played him a lot at the point, and he did a nice job. He got pressed a lot but did a nice job. So that’s the key. But with his makeup, the way he’s put together, he looks like a player.”
There’s one guy floating around the free agent market who I’ve been asked about a few times over the last few days.
And I’ll dutifully report that Dan Dickau is absolutely not on the Raptor radar.
Q: Hi Doug, I just learned that Nathan Jawai is an Australian of Aboriginal descent. Given all of the attention given to the cultural diversity of the Raptors' squad, I am surprised that this has received merely a passing mention. There are such strong and tragic historical parallels in the treatment of Australian Aborigines and First Nations in Canada. All the more reason that Toronto should feel proud and blessed to welcome on to their team the first Aboriginal player to be drafted by the NBA. I would like to hear much more about this apparently remarkable story. What do you think? Can you give us some more on him?
Mohamed M, Montreal
A: Here’s the deal on Jawai, as we found out over the weekend.
He’s not considered Aborigini because he was born on a tiny island off the coast of Australia. He is considered indigenous instead.
And I’m sure we’ll all hear the story in great depth when we finally get a chance to sit down and talk with him.
Speaking of the summer league, scanning the rosters in a moment of weekend boredom and one name leaped off the screen:
The Big Kitchen is back.
John Thomas, one of the all-time good Raptors, is playing for Milwaukee.
He’s an interesting dude. Took a couple of years off to travel and work in a sports agency, caught up with him about three years ago in Minnesota when he was playing that defunct summer league. No idea if he’s still got game but he’s exactly the kind of zany story you find in these summer leagues.
And toss in Pape Sow (Dallas), P.J. Tucker (Memphis) and Jelani McCoy (Denver) and you’ve got four-fifths of an ex-Raptor injured/inactive list team that should be able to kick some summer league butt.
Once more into the mail for something slightly off-topic:
Q: You said that at some points you're dreading the trip to Beijing?! I was just wondering as to the reasons for any hesitation towards what seems like an extraordinary trip?
Aris D, Toronto
A: I think anyone going to Beijing – or any Olympics for that matter – has the same concerns.
Pollution, infrastructure, security, language, transportation, being away from family and home for more than three weeks, an oppressive government watching you constantly.
Seeing missile silos a couple of hundred yards away from venues in Greece was a tad disconcerting (although the only major security issue of five Olympics I’ve covered already was some nutjob American trying to blow up a park in Atlanta).
I’m sure it’ll be fine and the memories will be all good but there’s trepidation, for sure.
Reason #12,240 why the summer league’s horrible.
In the Raptor-Sacramento game the other day, a 40-minute game by the way, there were 77 fouls called. SEVENTY-SEVEN! That’s one about every 40 seconds or so.
Joey Graham and Deji Akindele both came within two of equalling Hoffa’s franchise record for personal fouls in a game (10) although I’m told there were some, um, dubious calls.
This just in:
New Zealand edges Cape Verde 77-50 in Athens. No surprise there. But at least we know that we should get a Canada-Slovenia result tomorrow about the same time and it’s dang early.