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Old 08-16-2012, 05:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Progress report on Raptor players from Eric Hughes

So tell us a little bit now about what's going on in your world basketball-wise?

EH: Well we finished Summer League and I'm lucky enough that I live in Los Angeles in the off-season, so you know DeMar (DeRozan) lives there, Amir Johnson lives there, Ed Davis spends a lot of time there because his agent lives there, Terrence Ross, same thing, his agent lives there, Landry Fields, who we just signed, lives in Long Beach which is, you know, a half hour down the road; so we've pretty much been working out three to four days a week down in LA since we left Summer League. And then actually today (Sunday, August 5, 2012) I flew to Vegas, and Ed Davis, Terrence Ross and Quincy Acy are gonna join us here. There's an NBA Skills Camp that the NBA allows teams to send players to and it's run by Tim Grgurich, who's probably the godfather of workout. He puts on a camp every year and the NBA sanctioned it and every team in the league sends three players and a couple coaches and we work guys out as a group starting tomorrow morning (Monday, August 6, 2012) through Wednesday night (August 8, 2012). So like I said I got here today, the players have flown in, we'll have a little kick-off tonight and then we'll start up tomorrow morning.
RHQ: And then after that camp, what's on the schedule?

EH: I'll head back to LA and Amir and DeMar and Terrence and Landry will work out with us for a couple more weeks, and then I have actually not gone on my honeymoon yet , we postponed it until the end of the summer, so we are going to go on our honeymoon at the end of August for a couple of weeks, and then back to LA, and then right up to Toronto and we start getting after it for the preseason stuff before Training Camp starts.
RHQ: There was a lot of talk during Summer League about Ed rebuilding his shot and watching the games, indeed it did look not only like he had smoothened out some of the kinks, but that he was shooting it with more confidence.

EH: You know what, our shooting coach John Townsend, who we hired last year, spent roughly three weeks from the time the season ended, with Eddy in Richmond Virginia, Eddy's home town. I take my hat off to JT for that work, I really had nothing to do with it, that's JT's expertise and he did a great job with Eddy and I think that goes back to what we were talking about earlier. We knew at the end of Ed's rookie season that we needed to make some changes in his shot but like I said, you go through a lock-out, and you don't get a chance to work with him on it. And during the season, it's not only that you don't have time, but I don't know if changing someone's shot midway through a season is at the top of the priority list. You definitely work on every aspect of the player's game, but the summer when you have an extended period of time is when you work on that.

And hats off to both JT and Eddy for working on it because I agree, I don't think there's any question his shot is much improved and it's going to be a huge part of his progression and getting better in this league. He's going to have to become a better shooter.
RHQ: And talking about Terrence Ross, you saw a lot of the qualities on display that made him such an appealing draft pick out of Washington. Can you talk about some of his strengths?

EH: Obviously his biggest strength is his ability to shoot the basketball. I went up with Jim Kelly, and one of our scouts to watch him work out a couple times in May, a slow time for us as you know, and the one thing I noticed about his shot right away is how fast he gets it off. That's a hard thing to do. A lot of guys come out of college and they're really good shooters but to be able to get out with that kind of release, which I call an NBA release, he definitely has that and I saw it from day one. That was part of his success in Summer League and I think will help him progress that much faster than the other guys right away.

Physical play is something he needs to work on right away. A lot of times this summer he settled for his jump shot instead of attacking the basket and making contact with the defence and that's something DeMar DeRozan is still working on, not shying away from contact and a term we use called "fouling the defence" - get into their body and foul them before they foul you.

It's all those things we're working on you know, Terrence needs to become a better handler too, but those are all common things for rookies that you work on. There's nothing hugely out of the ordinary with Terrence that's like "oh my gosh, this is going to take a while." His things are minor things, his things are things that can be built with confidence and better strength and physical conditioning and just getting used to the grind of an NBA season.

RHQ: It's funny, I think the last few times we've talked, whether it was DeMar or Sonny, these same issues came up so it seems to be a common theme with most young wings entering the league.

EH: Definitely. You look at DeMar, he led our team in free-throw attempts last year but you look at his numbers compared to the elite wings in the league and it's not even close in terms of how many free-throw attempts he creates. But those free-throw attempts come from winning games and from the referees respecting you and how you play and if you shy away from contact they're not going to give you anything. But if you prove that you're going to get to the free-throw line 10 to 14 times a game like a lot of those elite players do, you're going to get those calls and you're going to get the respect. So we've definitely harped on that with DeMar and he's gotten better at it and like I said, we continue to work with him on it with drills in the summer, because if he's going to take his game to the next level that's what he needs to do. You know, he's gotten better every year but still not to that status that I think he wants to be at, nor where I think he should be at so it's a work in progress.

Even though DeMar is going into his fourth year next year, which is kind of hard to believe, he's still got a lot of upside and we're going to keep working with him. The lock-out hurt DeMar as well, the lock-out hurt a lot of players, but he's had a good summer this year. Johnny Lee our strength coach has done a great job with him and DeMar hired a strength coach in LA because that "physicalness" that the Dwyane Wade's and the Kobe Bryant's and the LeBron Jameses and the Carmelo Anthony's of the league have, DeMar has to attack the game both physically and mentally if he's going to take another step up.

RaptorsHQ Talks With Raptors' Assistant Coach Eric Hughes - Part I - Raptors HQ
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