Archive for the ‘Practice notes and quotes’ Category

- Injury report: Jose Calderon left shootaround early and is still being held down by that flu. Jay Triano said he will be a game-time decision tonight. I’m kinda hoping he sits and gets healthy and Jerryd Bayless gets some serious burn.

- We spoke to Sonny Weems at shootaround and got some insight into his injury and how he’s taking precautionary measures to keep his back right. While Weems said he’s feeling much better and had his first real, full practice with the team yesterday, he spoke about how tough it was to be down with an injury for so long and how young players blessed with athleticism often take their bodies for granted and don’t put in the necessary work to take care of them:

“Before the injury I didn’t do anything. I didn’t stretch. I hated stretching. It caught up with me. I never stretched, even in high school, college, throughout my whole career, I never stretched. It caught up to me. Taking more heed to it now, though.”

And now?

“I love it. I loooove stretching now. I try to do it as much as I can.”

Weems said he was given an exercise ball from one of the Raptors’ trainers and that he is so focused on his core strength he has taken to sitting on the exercise ball instead of the couch while watching TV. It sounds like the injury caused Weems to take a moment and evaluate how he had been treating his body:

“It makes you more humble. A lot of young players don’t like to stretch, don’t like to do the simple stuff to make you become a better athlete. A lot of young players take that for granted. Me for one, I did that. I took that for granted. One thing I know, I’ll never do it again.”

Weems had his family come up to Toronto last week while the team was on the road because he needed some positive reinforcement. While they’ve returned to Memphis (“My dad’s a pastor, so he has to get back to church and my mom, she’s the first lady, so she had to get back, too”), it sounds like their visit was exactly what he needed as he went through four hour treatment sessions while the team was gone.

It was real tough, man. I had to bring my mom and dad up here just to have family around. You want other people, like your family members to tell you it’s going to be alright. It’s nothing like having your family around when you’re going through tough times. My mom and dad came up here and made me think about everything else.”

Wondering how DeMar DeRozan assesses his game and what he needs to improve on? Here’s what he had to say about things he needs to focus on besides his offence:

“Defence. Defence is always the key, especially at this position. Going against the two guards every night that are extremely good. Just get better at that end and once that gets down pat, offence will come easier…Sometimes I get frustrated with myself when I see I only have two or three rebounds because I should be at least having six or seven or eight rebounds. Just going in there, definitely helping them out.”

I think those six, seven, eight, rebounds might be a bit of a lofty goal for every night, at least at this point, but hey, nice to see the sophomore aiming high and expecting big things out of himself. I’d take the defence before rebounding if I had to take one, but, to sound like every guy who has ever played professional basketball before, “it is what it is.”

DeRozan also told us his team during his first two years in high school was “horrible” and that he got through the bad times by staying positive and telling himself that tough times don’t last forever, but tough people do.

- Injury/health report: Amir Johnson’s back is feeling better. Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon will both play tonight. Sonny Weems and Joey Dorsey will both be game-time decisions. Reggie Evans, Leandro Barbosa and Linas Kleiza will not play.

- The Raptors announced that they have signed Trey Johnson to a 10-day contract, made possible by releasing Sundiata Gaines early from his 10-day signed on Monday afternoon. This is the move that was reportedly supposed to happen on Monday, but was derailed after Jose Calderon became ill and the Raptors needed an available point guard for their game against the Grizzlies. Glad we’ve got that sorted.

- Jay Triano said it’s possible that Alexis Ajinca will be on the active list tonight. He was able to go through shootaround this morning. Dorsey also went through shootaround, so that’s some more good news. Amir Johnson told us he has been seeing the chiropractor every other day –same guy Sonny is going to for his back– and that he’s at about 80 percent and feeling better each day. He is no longer getting the back taped and seems pretty pumped about that.

- Amir Johnson said how hungry he is for a win and when he was asked if it’s hard to stay positive as the losses mount, he said:

“Not for me. For me, I love what I do. I love to play ball so I come out every night and I play hard. Just keep playing.”

- Here’s Jay Triano on the Sixers:

“They’re playing a lot better right now. They’re back to running the basketball. Defending extremely well and we’re going to have to make sure that we get back in transition. This is a team that’s near the top of the league in transition points. They run at every opportunity that they can and we’ve got to make sure we’re back and take away easy buckets.”

- Triano spoke about the energy Julian Wright has given and said tonight the team will need a good game from him. Defensively, he will be starting on Andre Iguodala, but could end up guarding Lou Williams.

- On of the toughest parts of the injury situation the Raptors are currently weathering is the lack of bench scoring. With someone like Leandro Barbosa out, the Raptors don’t have a lot of scoring power outside of their starters. In comparison, the Sixers have players like Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young, who are averaging 13.3 and 11.8 points per game off of the bench.

- And finally, a clip to brighten your day (if NBA rookies dancing is the sort of thing that brightens your day)

(h/t @rtzfans)

- Injury report: No Sonny Weems, Leandro Barbosa or Reggie Evans. Linas Kleiza and Joey Dorsey will both be game time decisions.

- With Peja Stojakovic waiting to join the Mavericks — he was on the sidelines during the Mavs practice today– and Sundiata Gaines not with the team now that his 10-day is up, the roster is looking a little thin. My man Scott Schroeder over at FanHouse reports that the Raptors have signed D-League leading scorer, Trey Johnson to a 10-day. Welcome, Mr. Johnson. Healthy? Good. Stay healthy for the next 10 days, would you?

- Lots of talk about the morale of the team today at shootaround. Normal for a young team after going 0-5 on a five-game trip and losing their last seven straight.

- My favorite quote from the morning came from Jay when I asked how he keeps a young player like DeMar DeRozan focused on attacking the hoop and not on getting involved with the officials when he’s not getting the calls he thinks he deserves:

“Keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t say anything to the officials. Eventually, they will respect you and your game. If you stop, then they win.”

- Who would have thought when Sonny Weems went down with back spasms on December 17th that he’d still be out. It’s been just shy of six weeks since Weems has played in a game for the Raptors and this morning Jay said that the guys who didn’t travel with the team on the road trip would not be ready to go tonight. Yikes. That’s 18 missed games and counting for Weems.

Some quotes from this morning:

- Jay Triano on how he the guys have been fighting through the frustrations of losing:

“We’ve talked from the beginning of the year that it’s about the process more than it is the outcome…I think they care. They like each other and they care and they want to be coached and they want to work hard and I don’t think you could ask for much more than that. The only thing we can keep giving them is keep coaching them, keep working hard as coaches and keep giving them the experience that they need to become better basketball players.”

- Jay also talked about the struggle in coaching a young team where results are not the single most important factor:

“We don’t want them to hang their heads. I think this group has been pretty darn good about trying to stay positive and trying to keep working through. I think the other night in Miami was the perfect example where you’re down 26 at half and you could just mail it in in the second half, but we talked about being a better team in the locker room and I thought, second half we actually put ourselves in a position where we could come back.”

- DeMar DeRozan spoke about the road trip:

“Everybody is just fighting for a win. Seems like it’s always something. Somebody is hurt, somebody is getting sick, but we can’t really worry about that. We’ve just got to keep playing.”

and then about the positives the team is taking from the second half of the game against the Miami Heat:

“You seen the fight. We fought back when we got down big to a great team. We fought back and I think we showed our will to win. We’ve just got to be able to play a 48-minute game.”

“Man, it was definitely important, because I think nobody on the team wanted the same outcome that happened from the previous game so everybody just sucked it up and played hard.”

- The biggest news to come out of morning shootaround was that Kevin Durant will not play for the Thunder because of his sprained knee. The Raptors have been catching the breaks with respect to facing teams who are without some of their best players. Now, to see if they can take advantage.

- Of course, this is a Thunder team that is coming off of a triple-overtime victory against the New Jersey Nets where Russell Westbrook finished with 38 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists, including scoring all 13 of the Thunder’s points in the third overtime period. To stop the Thunder, you have to stop Westbrook. Not sure how successful the Raptors are going to be, but Jay Triano says they’ll guard him with, “a lot of different looks.”

Read the rest of this entry »

- The talk of the town was the Oklahoma City Thunder at practice today. After a triple-overtime road victory against the Nets, the Thunder will come to Toronto to face the Raptors tomorrow. The Raptors will try their best to contain Russell Westbrook. They will try just as the rest of the league has.

- It’s amazing to consider the rise of Westbrook and the growth in his game. If there’s one thing that everyone agreed on at practice today, it’s how difficult he is to contain and how much he has improved his shot. Leandro Barbosa went so far as to say that Westbrook is the key to their team, even if Durant plays because of how he controls the game. Huge compliment for the third-year player.

- One of my favorite things about this game is the friendships that are made before guys are even able to dunk. Today, DeMar DeRozan spoke about watching fellow Cali boys, Westbrook and James Harden playing against the Lakers in the playoffs last season. He said how crazy it is that they are all in the league together now, after playing together for so many years with and against one another. It’s got to be pretty unreal to be living your childhood dreams out with the childhood friends who dreamed the same thing.

- Ed Davis and Joey Dorsey were working out with Alex English at the end of practice today. Ed was all smiles, thrilled after his season debut last season. Couldn’t help but think about how far Dorsey has come in the past few months, fitting in with this team, earning a spot and now being in the rotation due to Reggie Evans’ injury. I love the underdog story. I know you know this by now.

- If you noticed a lady with a wide smile sitting in the family section last night, it is likely that you spotted Ed’s mom. She made the trip for the game and was able to see her son make his NBA debut. Today, her son was holding his brace, showing us all how light it was after he took it off before speaking with us. He said he expected to play between 10 and 15 minutes but was happy he was given 24 minutes.

- DeMar said that he got a good stretch in before the game last night and his hamstring was feeling better. Good sign for the Raptors.

Read the rest of this entry »