- After a nasty loss last night, practice was business as usual today, finishing with shooting and lifting while we waited to talk with Jarrett Jack, Linas Kleiza and Jay Triano.
- Jarrett Jack (sore knee), Linas Kleiza (sore Achilles) and Leandro Barbosa (strained left shoulder) did not participate in practice today. Triano said he didn’t know the status of the trio for the Raptors’ contest against the Charlotte Bobcats tomorrow, but Jack told us he would definitely be in uniform. Kleiza said “hopefully” when he was asked whether he’d be playing against the Bobcats.
- I had a whole lot of trouble paying attention during Triano’s scrum because of a game of one-on-one going on between Joey Dorsey and Alvin Williams. Despite being dwarfed by Dorsey’s mammoth frame, Williams fought every step of the way, sticking with Dorsey as he went full-steam toward the rim. The two had an audience as Jack, Julian Wright, Marcus Banks, Sonny Weems and Alex English hung around to watch the student try to school his teacher.
- If I could show one athlete the fountain of youth that Grant Hill has been able to find it would be Williams. He loves this game and the thrill of competition as much as anyone I’ve ever seen. Every day he is there, hanging out after practice, looking to bait someone into a game of one-on-one with some trash talk. I really, really wish he was still out there playing.
- On Jack saying the team has to piece together 48 minutes of basketball: “I think Jarrett’s right. It’s 48 minutes of basketball, and it’s got to start at the opening tip. Our margin for error is not very big. We have to make sure we get off to good starts and maintain for 48.”
- The defensive energy of the team throughout the duration of games: “I’ve seen it disappear at parts of games, not necessarily for a whole game. I think that we have shown throughout every game, we’ve shown good segments and good minutes when we’ve been very good defensively. But the teams that are good find the way to play that good defence more often than the teams that aren’t very good.”
- On offence affecting defense: “When we play aggressive defence, we don’t have a problem scoring. And when we score, we want to play aggressive defence. But when the offence stalls, we kind of lose confidence in our defensive ability, we’re on our heels, we hang our heads a bit. Again, that’s mental toughness.”
- On practices being more intense than games sometimes: “I think everybody does that. I think it’s the pressure in the game sometimes, not being able to go as hard. There’s no referees here, so you have guys trying to take each other’s heads off. In the game, they want to stay on the floor, so they’re a little bit more passive. When you do that, your reaction time is a bit different.”
- On his sore Achilles’ tendon: “It’s sore. It’s something that I’ve been dealing with.”
- Mindset of the team: “We’ve got to stay positive. It’s early in the year. We can’t get down. We played a lot of good games. We shouldn’t be 1-6 right now. We should have a way better record than this. We just let a couple games get away. We’re right there.”
- Is the team’s confidence still there? “Seven games into the season, and you’re going to be down right now? We’re competitive. We all know we’re right there. We’ve had some bad stretches in the games and we get down. We can’t have that.”
- Why does the intensity fluctuate throughout the game?: “I don’t know, but that’s one thing we can’t have. We’ve got to play with that intensity all 48 minutes. Hopefully we’re going to do that. We’ve had some very good stretches, and we’ve had some bad ones. We get down.”
- On what went wrong defensively in the game against the Warriors: “We’ve just missed a lot of our rotations. What we kind of talked about we were going to do before the game, we didn’t do that during the game. That’s kind of hurt us. When we get beat middle, it’s hard. Our defence is not set for that. That’s what everybody’s trying to do. When you go to the middle, you’ve got a lot of options. We’re trying to take that away.”
- On lapses happening during the game: “If you make a mistake, make an aggressive one. Don’t make one being hesitant or second guessing, whatever the case may be. Be it offence, hustle plays, regardless. Playing mistake-free basketball is a very, very difficult thing to do. Nobody really does it, but that’s what you strive for. In the event that you make a mistake, do it in an aggressive manner so we know how to react. We don’t know what to do if you’re like, ‘Ah, I might go, I might not go.’ If you’re in between decisions. If you go then all of us will know how to react and act accordingly.”
- On the play of DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems: “Both of them are still very, very young players…DeMar’s minutes are being extended, which means the opportunity is extended, the situations are extended. You’re playing more at the end of the game where the situations are more magnified and the game is going to be on the line. It just comes with experience. I went through the same thing. It’s very difficult to pick it up overnight. It’s a long season, it’s still early which is the best thing about it and I definitely think they’ll come through. They’ve been doing a tremendous job all season long so far and I think they’ll be able to handle it.”
- Is it mental-fatigue or physical-fatigue that hits you down the stretch when you’re getting adjusted to your minutes being extended?: “It’s a little bit of both. Obviously, if your minutes are extended, your level of exhaustion is up and those pressure plays are mounted. You’re not just in the game for the first play of the game or the second game, you’re in there with 30 seconds to go, we’re down four, we need a stop and a good shot. Those things are not easy things to execute. Once you’ve played 40 minutes chasing Ray Allen around, chasing Kobe Bryant, banging with Dwight Howard down low, it wears on you. That’s when the mental fatigue starts to have lapses and that makes your physical part come down. It’s definitely tough.”
- How does a player get used to playing those minutes?: “It takes time. Your battling against All-Stars every night. Any one of us is going to have that challenge every night. Playing Charlotte, Gerald Wallace, All-Star. Stephen Jackson, another All-Star caliber player. It’s different people and different ways that they are affected every single night. It’s also getting familiar with personnel. I’ve played against these people for six years, two and four times a season, so I’m pretty familiar with a lot of these guys. DeMar is still trying to get familiar with what a lot of these guys do, their strengths and weaknesses, it comes with time.”
- On the team’s effort defensively: “I think obviously when we play well or when we tend to go on runs the defense is very evident. It’s not like, ‘Why are they playing well?’ it’s obvious. We’re taking the challenge on the other end of the floor and being able to present ourselves, force turnovers, limit the teams to one shot per possession and then getting out and running. The offensive part really isn’t a struggle for us. It’s the defence or we dictate our offense depending on if we’re playing defence or not and that’s what we can’t do.”
- How do you improve defence?: “Talking. Communication. I think that’s the number one thing. I think constantly just talking to everyone on the floor. Communicating. A lot of the times when you’re up on the ball, most of the things that are going on are behind you. If you hear people behind you talking or beside of you talking, you have a sense of what is going on ,you know what calls to do, you know what reads to do. I think communication is the number one thing.”
- Status for tomorrow’s game: “I’m definitely going to play tomorrow. I sat out of practice today. I’m still stiff, but I’ll definitely be out there. If I give my team 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes. I’m just going to give them whatever I have.”