- Not a lot to report from Shootaround. Jay Triano did say that Leandro Barbosa will play in tonight’s contest against the Knicks. He practiced yesterday and participated again in shootaround this morning.
- Triano also said the team had a sports psychologist speak with the team during the Vancouver portion of training camp about process and outcome and the things that will make them a better basketball team. He said this is something they’ll probably continue to use to help the team.
- Two Raptors brought out to speak with media today: Jarrett Jack and Reggie Evans. It’s a new day, people. Embrace it.
- Jack was asked about his leadership abilities throughout the preseason. He says he’d give himself a good grade if he had to grade himself and that he’s worked on being vocal and communicating, reminding guys when not to go out, or when to bring it in early. Sounds like he’s enjoying the leadership role he is currently occupying for the team. Jack’s family is in town for the game tonight and he mentioned at practice yesterday that there would be a home-cooked meal for his teammates courtesy of his parents.
- When asked about fans coming to the game, Jack told us a story about recently meeting a father and son at a hockey game. It was their first game and they were in awe of the professional athletes. Not knowing who Jack was, they asked him after some people came over to get autographs. After he introduced himself they were excited to meet him and told him they had never been to a basketball game before. The father/son duo –who live about an hour outside of the city– will be getting a chance to take in the game tonight, courtesy of tickets from Jack.
- Yes, people watched the Miami/Boston game. Jack said he wasn’t surprised with the outcome of the Miami/Boston game, saying that he expected Boston to win. He was sure to say that he thinks Miami will be a great team because of the talent they have, but that it’ll take time for guys to get used to how things are going to work.
- A note on Reggie: When he starts a quote with, “You know what, it’s like this right here,” you know you’re about to get something good.
- My pick for quote of the day from the morning session:
“A lot of guys here that haven’t had the opportunities that are set in front of them right now. Guys like Linas Kleiza who hasn’t been a starter or thurst into a starting lineup in the NBA yet. Reggie Evans as well. He probably hasn’t been in a starting lineup since Seattle. Andrea being thrust into the focal point of the offence now. Myself, being a starter on opening day is something I haven’t had since I was in Portland. DeMar coming around for his second year, he looks 10 times better than he did last year. Just his knowledge and understanding of the game. Guys like Sonny Weems who was an unheard-of mystery man last season now he’s in the NBA rotation, a key part, integral part of our team. Amir Johnson who was kind of an afterthought in Detroit comes here has a pretty good season and emerges as a pretty good talent and now he’s reaping the benefits as well. There’s a lot of guys that I think just want to come out and prove themselves, rather than proving other people wrong.
On the fans coming out and filling seats: “You know what, it’s like this here: If they come, be thankful. If they don’t come, that just shows us that we’ve gotta work hard. We’ve just gotta earn it. We just look at it in a positive way. Whatever seats are empty, they probably are just saying they want to see us work a little harder. It’s cool. We just look at it in a positive way. Once we start winning, them seats will fill out. It’s understandable. We’ve just got to work hard.”
- On the closeness of the team this year: “Sometimes adversity brings you close. In life and in sports. You have one of your key players go away and then a couple more players leave the team and not come back, sometimes adversity brings you closer. Sometimes it works out in a good way. Now it’s like, alright, I’m about to do this real quick. I shouldn’t have to tell you to watch my back. I should automatically know, ‘Alright, I know you’re going to have my back.’ It’s translating to the court. If I get beat, I know for sure I’ve got somebody to help me out.
- On whether he thinks the team is closer this season: “I do. I think there’s a lot of reasons for that. Number one, we made it really difficult for them.This was a very tough training camp. Hopefully there are no lingering effects of that, but I think that if there are, the benefit of these guys sticking together to get through this tough time is something that will be beneficial to us. The other thing is these guys know that if we play individually, we have no chance. Our collective ability to play together is going to have to be one of the strengths of this team because we don’t have that superstar.”
- Things being easier with this group, without a superstar: “I think it makes it easier. I’m having a lot of fun coaching these players because right now, they want and are looking for every bit of an edge that they can have. They want to be good, they want to prove people wrong and they’ve shown that with their work ethic.”