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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Daily Raptor Dish - 11.01.11
Raps' Davis buying in bulk
Calderon takes pains to succeed
Ed Davis, like just about every rookie who has ever had the good fortune to play in the NBA, has had more than his fair share of first-year tribulations.
There was the knee injury in the pre-season that pushed back his NBA debut a month and some later than it should have been.
That was a little beyond what most rookies deal with.
Then there were the normal rookie feelings of impatience as he bided his time for significant minutes to arrive or the feelings of despair as he came off the court wondering how he was ever going to compete against the sheer size and volume of experience that he was facing each night.
All of those experiences, including the knee injury, are going to make him a better player in the long run.
From head coach Jay Triano to assistant coach Alex English to strength and conditioning assistant coach Francesco Cuzzolin, there are plenty of people in the Raptors employ there primarily to make sure Davis develops as he should.
And to a man, they are all seeing things progress as they believe they should.
Already Davis is showing a knack for making himself large as opponents get to the basket. His rebounding and blocking skills are probably the most advanced of his skill set. He is a tenacious rebounder on the offensive boards as well earning putbacks and tip-ins on a nightly basis. Slowly but surely he’s beginning to shoot the ball with some confidence.
But in order to play in the NBA and be effective at the power forward position Davis will one day own, size and strength are a must. At
6-foot-10 and 225 pounds right now, Davis is considerably undersized at the position.
The injury — a meniscal tear in his right knee in mid September — as disheartening as it had to be given the timing of it, was, in Cuzzolin’s opinion quite possibly a good thing because it opened Davis’ eyes to what he needed to do to not just to be in the league but to excel in it.
“The injury was the key moment for him,” Cuzzolin said. “Without injuries you can’t spend so much time just thinking about yourself. He was outside the court, watching games, watching practice and seeing how the others were, comparing them to himself.”
In that time, Davis came to realize what still had to be done. The work away from the court, in the weight room and even at the dinner table in order to add the kind of good bulk he needs to be competitive with the veteran big men who dominate the league.
It’s something the entire coaching and support staff had been telling him but something that really hit home as he rehabbed that injury.
Raptors Blog by Doug Smith
Throwing a wrench into the common perception that NBA players need time in the gym on off-days to work on their craft, Calderon has been putting up impressive numbers despite not being able to take part fully between games.
“I feel weird. It’s the only thing I don’t like,” said Calderon, still dealing with pain in his left foot. “I like to practise every day. I can do the shooting . . . The only thing is I cannot push it. I cannot do the five-on-five because of the next day. We don’t know how it’s going to feel the next day, so we have to be careful.”
The sore foot and a bad ankle haven’t taken a toll on what he’s done during games. Calderon has had double-figure assists in six of Toronto’s last eight games and has been playing his best basketball of the season. The pain in his foot disappears once he gets out on the court. It flares up when the game ends.
“Out there I feel comfortable, I feel good,” he said. “I know it’s getting better, so soon I’ll be back at normal, hopefully. After the game, it’s bad . . . when you start getting cold again.”
Coach Jay Triano, who hasn’t had a full roster for practice in more than a month, said the Raptors are flying by the seat of their pants to get the most out of Calderon.
“We’re just trying to patchwork right now, trying to let him rest on that day (after a game), let the swelling go down a little bit, let it feel a bit more comfortable,” the coach said. “Then he ramps it up on game day. He’ll shoot in the morning of game day and he’ll shoot in practice right before the game.”
Calderon’s renaissance actually began with one of general manager Bryan Colangelo’s biggest in-season moves. In 18 games since Jarrett Jack was dealt to New Orleans, Calderon has averaged 12.2 points and 9.7 assists while shooting 51.4 per cent from the floor and 48.9 per cent from three-point range.
“I never look at the stats, but I’m feeling really comfortable out there with my teammates,” Calderon said. “I know we could do better as a team, but I feel comfortable. I’m enjoying playing basketball and having fun. I enjoy playing with DeMar (DeRozan) and Andrea (Bargnani) and these guys now. It’s great. It’s perfect.”
Ailing Raptors plentiful, but no new absences expected
There’s this little game we play with Jay every day now.
He arrives in front of whatever podium or backdrop that’s in use that day, looks out over the assembled masses and one of us says: “So, who didn’t work today?”
He looks back at us, seems to concentrate hard on his answer because the list is so long and yesterday he said:
“Jose, Andrea, Amir, Kleiza, Ed Davis. Oh, Ed got a little bit of stuff in.”
And so it goes with these fellows, no one’s really hurting all that bad (well, outside of Sonny, Reggie and Peja, that is) but no one can really go 100 per cent in practice because they need to save legs and limbs for games.
(Jose touches on that point a bit in today’s yarn out of the paper here)
That’s got to be tiresome for a coaching staff because I know they want to work these guys hard and wouldn’t mind working them often but if they are worried about making things worse, they have to pull back.
The worst part is that this week was going to be a time to get some solid practice in. They had Monday, they have today and they’ll have Thursday as about the only days to practice for a week or so.
The games come fast and furious starting Friday, they go Friday at home and then Saturday-Monday-Wednesday-Friday-Saturday on the road.
Tough schedule, no time to work, a bunch of nicked up players.
A true recipe for success, no?
Maturity and confidence making a difference for Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan
The players who did not practice for the Toronto Raptors on Monday are, in total, not a bad starting lineup for an NBA team.
Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, Linas Kleiza, Amir Johnson and Ed Davis all took a pass on drills, though the rookie Davis got “a little bit of stuff in” according to head coach Jay Triano.
With Reggie Evans, Sonny Weems and Peja Stojakovic also walking wounded and without timelines for returns, Toronto’s injury bay is rather full.
But Triano said he did not believe any there would be any relapses that would force any players but Evans, Weems and Stojakovic to miss Wednesday’s game against Atlanta.
“We’ll know a lot more tomorrow, but I think right now everybody’s just banged up and bruised and we’ll find a way to patch ‘em together and play on Wednesday,” said Triano.
“I know what he can do,” Bargnani said after DeRozan’s 28-point effort against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night. “I see him practise every day and I’m happy he’s finally showing on the court, in games, what he’s capable of doing.”
“He’s starting to put up numbers that are what we need right now,” head coach Jay Triano said.
DeRozan, who’s averaged 14.8 points a game this season, also said the conditioning and extra bulk he put on last summer is starting to pay off.
“Around this time last year I was so banged up,” DeRozan said. “Think I hit the rookie wall or something like that. I remember just being tired … and I wasn’t playing as many minutes as I am now,” he said of his rookie year, when he averaged 8.6 points and 2.9 rebounds.
Of course, his game will have to continue to improve if he’s going to be the kind of shooting guard who draws the double-team, or commands more of the referee’s respect (which Triano said was a problem against the Celtics this month).
That means being able to create more opportunities for his teammates, becoming a better ball-handler, and being as good on defence as on offence.
“One thing that sometimes happens when you’re playing 35, 36 to 40 minutes a game, you look for breaks. Sometimes it’s at the defensive end. And that can’t happen for him,” Triano said, adding he thinks DeRozan has shown the type of work ethic he’ll need to get there.
“I’m really grateful for every moment I get,” DeRozan said.