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What observations like these SHOULD tell you about the quality of your player roster

Friday, March 13th, 2009

The following has got to be one of the most humourous headlines, in the 14-yr history of Raptorville, courtesy of Frank Zicarelli [long-time scribe for the Toronto Sun]:

Raptors defence looks terrific … in practice
Every defensive breakdown was broken down, regardless of who was getting exposed.

Whether it was off the dribble, in transition or off the ball, no player and no scenario was overlooked when the Raptors gathered yesterday in the wake of Wednesday’s capitulation in Philadelphia.

It seems as if every day the Raptors are being asked why defensive assignments aren’t getting executed and why players aren’t communicating.

It has become a daily ritual, a season-long deficiency that was punctuated in Toronto’s 115-106 loss to the host Sixers, a team that entered the evening with its own issues, but still managed to shoot 56% from the field, a number that hovered around 60% until it emptied its bench.

No one associated with the Raptors has any answers.

The unspoken words are that this group is simply too soft mentally and too thin on basketball IQ to defend any opponent for a 48-minute game.

It has never been corrected and, with time running out, it likely will linger into an off-season that promises to be one of profound change.

“I can deliver a positive message every day, but until we see we’re doing it, it’s an entirely different story,” said Chris Bosh ahead of tonight’s tip against the Detroit Pistons at the Air Canada Centre.

Interim head coach Jay Triano has made it a point to refrain from addressing the team following a loss. In his mind, he wants all emotions detached from the moment. And besides, the eye in the sky doesn’t lie.

But Triano and his staff broke down every defensive possession from Wednesday and shared the horrifying video evidence with their players yesterday.

Bosh, however, sees his teammates defend hard in practice and watches as each shot is contested.

“Sometimes you can’t even get your shot off,” Bosh said. “I just don’t [know] why it doesn’t transfer into games. We’re always talking about it. We can talk all we want, but it’s all about action.”


What it also is, however, is a concise delineation of one of the MAJOR on-court problems with this year’s Raptors team; namely, the overall lack of Quality Depth on their roster, which was identified specifically, in advance, in this space,

Talking the talk, already … in Raptorville [Sep 29 2008],

during the pre-season.

When your team plays “well” in practices and competes “hard”, by all accounts … especially on the defensive end of the floor … but, then,  CONSISTENTLY SHOWS ITS DEFICIENCIES IN THIS SAME ASPECT OF THE GAME WHEN THE BRIGHT LIGHTS COME ONE … what it means is that:

The individuals who your players are competing against in those practices are, in fact, INFERIOR to those who they MUST compete against in their real-life games … by a wide margin.

Whether you’re team is prepared to acknowledge this, or not, is irrelevant.

When Sam Mitchell [former Head Coach] made observations like these:

Fore-warned is fore-armed [Wed Oct 29 2008]

during the pre-season,

… and, then, 5 months [and 42 losses!] later, your interim [former assistant] head coach makes the following observations:

Jay Triano’s post-practice interview [Thu Mar 12, 2009]:

it should tell you everything that you need to know about the quality of the player roster assembled by the Raptors this season, and that very little has actually changed with this team since the pre-season, re: the ability of its players to compete effectively on the defensive end of the floor, on a nightly basis in this league, relative to the best players in the world … who have both NBA Calibre Athleticism and NBA Calibre Hoop Smarts, in abundance.

You can slice an apple any way you’d like … but, in the end, it simply does NOT change what you’ll find at its Core.

When a team’s Won-Lost Record stands at 23-42/.354, in a season which began with the President/GM making a public statement that:

“This is the best team we’ve had, on paper.”

and, includes the dismissal of its head coach, only 17 games into the campaign, with an 8-9 mark …

the COLD, HARSH REALITY is that the MAIN on-court problem with this team, this season, is the Lack of Quality Depth on the roster, from Player #1-15 … which consistently plays itself out each day in practice, and in EVERY game, with the way they compete against One Another but, then, fall short against their Real-life Opponents.


17 games left to go.

The Raptors’ President/GM was WRONG.

The 2009 NBA Draft Lottery awaits.

It’s a d*mn shame, too … considering what could have been heading into this season, i.e. Understanding Bryan Colangelo’s Method of Operation, re: Option 1 or Option 2.