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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Daily Raptor Dish - 15.03.11
Raptors are doing at least one thing right
Barbosa undecided on Olympic qualifiers
With just 18 wins in a season that has only 16 games remaining, there hasn’t been a whole lot to get excited about where the Raptors are concerned.
Yes, the development of DeMar DeRozan and that of rookie Ed Davis have been worth watching and at times very encouraging, but the big picture looks very bleak at first glace.
There is one thing this team does well, better in fact than every other team in the NBA and that’s get out on the run and score in transition.
No team has produced more fast break points in this NBA season than the Toronto Raptors.
Go to any game and head coach Jay Triano, if you can hear him from your seats, spends the bulk of the game imploring his ball handlers to “Go.” And those not with the ball are implored to “Get there,” meaning getting down floor and establishing position under or near the basket to take advantage of a ball that is being pushed up court that will hopefully beat defenders to their own basket.
Jose Calderon, a guy who initially preferred the traditional half court offensive approach is now as diligent as any Raptor pushing it ahead to a streaking DeMar DeRozan or Sonny Weems.
It was all keyed by being active at the defensive end and feel. Jose getting a feel and turning those points into transition points. We’ve said all along if you’re active with your hands and your feet defensively it can turn into points offensively.
Raptors Blog by Doug Smith
Leandro Barbosa had a visitor following Sunday’s game asking him a question he can’t quite answer yet.
Ruben Magnano, the head coach of the Brazilian national basketball team was in the crowd for Sunday’s loss to Charlotte.
It was the final stop of an NBA tour for the Argentine who was hoping to get commitments from the NBA players on the national team roster.
Barbosa, reluctantly, could not give Magnano a commitment for a couple of reasons.
First, the Raptors guard has to decide whether to have surgery on his damaged right wrist that he has been playing through. He’ll make that decision after further consultation with team doctors but if he opts for the surgery he would be out of action for four months meaning the Olympic qualifier this summer in Argentina would not be possible.
But Barbosa, as well as every NBA player, also has to consider what to do in the event of an NBA lockout which could begin as early as July 1. There are already rumblings that if a lockout does occur, any NBA player who elects to play internationally may do so without the normal insurance protection provided by the league.
Raptors’ March Madness memories
So how about this ownership thing, eh?
Teachers are getting out of the sports business it appears and to that I have only one thing to say:
Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Now, I have nothing against pension funds or teachers or any combination of both. In fact, I have friends in both industries and wish them nothing but the best.
But, at its very heart, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment exists to satisfy the fiduciary concerns of a billion-dollar pension plan and that has to run at cross-purposes with fielding winning sports teams.
I don't know if the next “owner” will have the same responsibilities but I do know they won’t be as cast in stone as they are now, where strict financial goals have to be achieved.
The debate will continue, and I’m sure I’ll weigh in on it soonish, about whether a sole proprietor or a corporation of some sort is best but I honestly think anything will be better than a pension fund.
Raptors falling short on free-throw line
In the final minutes of the final game against the Kansas Jayhawks, Memphis’ two best foul shooters, including future NBA all-star Derrick Rose, missed four free throws in a row to help blow a nine-point lead in the last two minutes. Mario Chalmers of Kansas (now with the Miami Heat) made a dramatic game-tying three-pointer with two seconds left in regulation.
Three years later, Dorsey still cringes at the 75-68 overtime loss, which he watched from the bench after he fouled out in regulation.
Reporters aren’t the only ones who won’t let him forget it.
“I went to the game [earlier this year] when [Memphis] played against Kansas in New York. And Coach [Bill] Self said, ‘Joey I’m so glad you fouled out of that game. Because if you didn’t, y’all would have won.’ So when he said it, it brought back memories. I’m like, oh my God. Rub it in.”
MLSE buyer? Almost anyone
Toronto was tied with Charlotte for 21st in freethrow shooting percentage entering Monday's games. The team's average (75.4%) would be much better if Davis (53.7%) and Evans (48.2%) improved.
"It's something I'm trying to work on every day and trying to get better at, because that really completes a player," said Davis, who attempts at least 100 free throws daily.
And while English is teaching technique, he admits making free throws has a lot to do with what goes on in a player's head.
"First you got to believe you can make the shot and then you got to get the technique down," he said.
During a game, music will play as the teams move the ball up and down the court. But when someone is on the free-throw line, the music stops and all eyes are on one player.
"A lot of the point guards, who are standing behind you, will say stuff right when you're about to release the ball," Davis said. "They may make a random noise to try and distract you."
Then there is the crowd, which on the road will try to distract a player by creating noise and movement behind the basket. At home, the arena can become almost painfully silent when a Toronto player is about to attempt a free throw.
"The crowd can mess up your shot, and you're by yourself on the line and you got players talking to you with little messages. You got to stay focused," Johnson said. "That's why you need to practise every day and zone everybody out."
Here’s something you won’t hear Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, the majority owners of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, say: We’re unloading the most valuable sports franchise in Canada because we need the money to pay our aging pensioners.
In fact, the decision to put its 66% stake in MLSE, which owns the Air Canada Centre, the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs, the National Basketball Association’s Toronto Raptors, a series of condominium towers aptly named Maple Leaf Square, on the sale block is part of an on-going divestiture plan the giant fund has been executing since the financial meltdown of 2007-2008.
Of course, it doesn’t sound as enticing as putting the word out that there’s been so many potential buyers for MLSE pounding on its doors, that Teachers decided to hire investment banker Morgan Stanley to find the right suitor.
The demographics of the $96.4-billion pension fund are aging, leaving it with a net cash outflow to meet its pension obligations. All those illiquid, private investments Teachers had been accumulating in the past decade, such as privately-owned broadcaster CTV, weren’t providing the kinds of returns it needs.
Ergo, the balance sheet clean out isn’t so much about the quality of the assets. Rather what’s driving the high-profile auction for MLSE and the other sales that have unfolded under the radar is Teachers’ ability to pay pension benefits to public school teachers in Ontario.