Archive for March, 2008

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for THE Raptor and HIS coach

March 31, 2008

Steve Buffery, Toronto Sun, Boo MoPete? Sam says he deserves standing ovation

“I hope so, because he deserves it,” said Mitchell, when asked if he expects a nice ovation for Peterson tonight. “Mo played hard here.”

“He did a lot of things for the organization,” Bosh said. “He was fan favourite and I think a lot of people will be really excited to see him play.”

“MoPete is one of my favourite people,” Mitchell said.

“Mo is one of my favourite players. He was with me when I first got here, we went through a lot of tough times together. I felt like Mo was one of the guys in that locker room who was on my side. He supported me. I couldn’t always give him what he wanted, but I had the utmost respect for Mo, and I think Mo had the same for me. And I’m glad that he’s with a good coach (Byron Scott), a good organization and with a good team. I’m happy for Mo. And I hope they do well except for when they play us.”

One of the all-time great quotes from Sam Mitchell.

Kudos to Morris Peterson … and the man who played him major minutes for the first time in his career 2 seasons ago, during Toronto’s terrible 27-55 season, in the aftermath of Vince Carter’s departure … showing everyone who understands the NBA game just how good MoPete can be in this League, if afforded the opportunity to work everyday as a glue-2 in the NBA.

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Raptors vs Hornets … post mortem

March 30, 2008

Short & Sweet. 

Do not let the Final Score (Tor 111, NOH 118) of this game fool you.

At the 04:57 mark of the 3rdQ … the Hornets led by 24 pts … Tor 65, NOH 89. 

Q1. A Bell-weather game for the current version of the Raptors?

A1. You better believe it.

A Bell Toll for Mitchel-Angelo

March 30, 2008

Today’s match-up between the Raptors & the Hornets is yet another bell-weather game for Toronto.

After making two changes to their starting line-up – i.e. replacing Jose Calderon (PG) with TJ Ford & Andrea Bargnani (C) with Rasho Nesterovic – the Raptors have now won consecutive home games vs (Rip-less & Zip-less) Detroit and (Hap-less) New York.

This afternoon’s opponent, however, is a different matter entirely.

The Hornets come into this afternoon’s game:

1) With the best W-L record in the Western Conference;
2) Fresh off a sizable defeat at the hands of the Celtics;
3) In the midst of a crucial 6-game road-trip;
4) In a revenge situation vs Toronto (i.e. following the Raptors W earlier this season @ New Orleans);
5) In a heated battle with 5 other elite level teams in the WC for home-court advantage, through to the NBA Finals;
6) A legitimate (NBA) MVP candidate (Chris Paul, PG) at the helm of their team.

Take care of business in this game, against this calibre of opponent, playing with this sort of motivation, and it will quell the raising tide of dissent among the Raptors’ faithful which senses quite correctly that something is amiss, at the Core of this franchise, despite the silver-plated gains that have been made in the Eastern Conference standings since the installation of President/GM, Bryan Colangelo, 2 full years ago. 

Come up on the short side of the ledger, however … especially in the Paul vs Forderon match-up … and it will be yet  another indictment of the Raptors’ overall M.O. (headed up by Mitchel-Angelo) … which, with every day that passes, seems to be more-and-more Maple Leafs-like than ever before.

Win today … with this line-up of players, vs a top quality WC team … and move back to 3 games above .500.

Lose today, and …

the upcoming ‘tough’ games left on the schedule … i.e. @ Charlotte, @ Atlanta, @ New Jersey, @ Detroit and @ Chicago … become even more important than they are already, in determining the Raptors’ first-round playoff opponent … as this ship lists towards its second consecutive playoff appearance, and its 2nd consecutive exit from the post-season tournament in the 1st Round. 

Where 25 in a row happens

March 28, 2008

Nov 14, 2007 … The significance of that date?

This headline, right here:

No. 1 Tar Heels wake up in time to defeat Davidson

which accompanied the following, Final Score:

Davidson 68
North Carolina 72

and this insight, 4 months in advance of March Madness, by the ‘Choir Boy Assassin’ himself,

“The No. 1 team in the country and we were right there with them,” Curry said. “It shows that we’ve got better since last year. But we’ve still got a lot of work to do to win one of these games. We’ll have more opportunities.”

Yessiree, son … ain’t that gonna be the truth, now that the Wildcats will be playing in the ‘Elite Eight‘ come Saturday evening.

Featuring …

“Another splendid performance from the super soph.”Clark Kellogg (CBS College Basketball Analyst)

Mitchel-Angelo strikes back

March 28, 2008

* Michael Grange, From Deep: Linton Johnson shouldn’t unpack

“We’re looking for defence, rebounding – those intangible things: getting on the floor for loose balls, bringing some grit and toughness to our basketball team. You can’t keep asking for that. After a while of asking [if you don’t get it] it’s Bryan and my job go find it. We’ve been asking for that, but if it’s not in their DNA, let’s find someone for who it is in their DNA.”

From this corner of the blogosphere … that ^^^ move, right there, is a 1st Class piece of work by the Raptors’ joint architects.

Will it work?

Time will tell.

[PS. See what the real Linton looks like in-person, first, then go forth from there. Okay, take your pick.]

Where a ‘Sky Song’ happened

March 28, 2008

Courtesy of Crooked Pencils, One Shining Moment

If you do know it, it’s everything that’s right about sports and life.

… thinking that he might write a song about basketball, and a phrase pops into his head, out of nowhere, and the next morning he sits down for lunch and scribbles on a napkin the great cornball anthem that, two decades later, still makes grown men cry.

The story ‘behind’ the classic song … which brings a smile to the face and sends chills down the spine, just thinking about it, once again.

Man, Oh, Man … 20 years goes by … just … so … darn fast.

NBA wisdom from Flip

March 28, 2008

Anyone who thinks that NBA head coaches do not have a keen sense of humour …  

Pistons clinch Central with victory over Heat

“Those guys had nothing to lose, and they were going to try to prove some things – earn a roster spot or secure things for next year,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “We executed down the stretch. Any time you hold a team, I don’t care who it is, to 24 points in the second half, you have a chance to win.”

… simply hasn’t read enough of their post-game quotes.

Disingenuity inside Raptorland

March 28, 2008

Double-speak abounds these days in the NBA’s Jurassic Park

Courtesy of Dave Feschuk, Ford may be wearing out his welcome

… as hugely respected as he (Ford) is here for his perseverance and his gutsy attack, you get the sense he’s lost some respect in the coaches’ offices and the locker room for his I-hate-being-a-backup act.

And his continuing assertion that all was well when he wasn’t a starter – “I think I did a great job off the bench,” he said yesterday – is disingenuous. He could probably make it better quickly with a sincere: “My bad.”

But he doesn’t appear to have it in him.

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A must read … for Raptors’ fans.

Raptors vs Pistons … post mortem

March 28, 2008

In light of Toronto’s home-court victory against Detroit (Wed/Mar/26), two specific observations – one by Jose Calderon (PG) and one by Sam Mitchell (Head Coach) – are particularly noteworthy:

* Doug Smith, New-Look Raptors stun Pistons

(#1, by Calderon) 

It took Calderon a couple of conversations with the coaching staff and general manager Bryan Colangelo before he convinced them the move was the right one.

“Some of them, they didn’t want to agree with that, they said we have to keep doing the same thing. But after … we thought it was the best thing for the team,” he said.

But for all the talk of who starts, who backs up and who is where in what pecking order, when it came time to win the game, both guards were on the court.

(#2, by Mitchell) 

“It was easy because without Rip Hamilton, they played two point guards in the backcourt,” coach Sam Mitchell said of the Pistons, who were without their top scorer.

“It wasn’t a physical matchup problem. It’s just going to depend, if it’s smaller guards in the backcourt and we can do it, we’ll look at doing it but for the most part, no,” Mitchell said.

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re: #1
Situations like this, almost always signal ‘the Long Slow March’ toward an inevitable implosion for an NBA team. 

re: #2 
Iindividual player match-ups are what dictate coaching strategies, in the NBA, and determine, to a large extent, which teams Win and which teams Lose specific games and series. If the Raptors primary back-court in the playoffs consists of their 2 PG’s (one of whom is 5-11, 165; the other of whom is 6-3, 210) … then this team is going nowhere fast.

It is only a matter of time … before the cracks in Toronto’s seemingly secure foundation begin to re-appear in earnest.

Where sports and science collide, literally

March 27, 2008

and …

 Fortes fortuna adiuvat.
Virgil (Aeneid
, Roman epic poet, 70 BC – 19 BC)

Courtesy of the Whole Garden Will Bow

Have you stopped giggling yet?