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RF Daily Dish 17-10-12
Raptors' backcourt getting crowded | Raptors
| Sports | Toronto Sun
t quickly became clear on Tuesday that Jose Calderon’s hamstring isn’t bothering him after all.
Calderon left Friday’s game against Detroit after hurting himself, but the injury was so minor, he didn’t even know what the media was referring to when asked how he was feeling?
“About what?” wondered the perplexed point guard before being reminded.
“No, no, no, I was ready the next day … I’m good, never had a doubt of (playing on Wednesday),” he said.
Calderon indicated that he felt a twinge of some sort and erred on the side of caution by opting to come out of the game because it was only a pre-season contest.
He expects to play on Wednesday against the visiting Washington Wizards, meaning, all of a sudden, Toronto’s backcourt is getting quite crowded.
Kyle Lowry, who was held out of pre-season action due to a groin injury, will make his Toronto debut in that one, and head coach Dwane Casey lauded John Lucas III for his strong play so far.
“(The performance of Lucas) throws a monkey wrench in there. We’ve got to look at the three-guard rotation, the two of the three playing together at some point, which may bump Landry (Fields) to the three or DeMar (DeRozan) to the three or whatever,” Casey said.
Calderon has played at the same time as other point guards in the past (T.J. Ford, Jarrett Jack, Jerryd Bayless being recent examples) and he believes playing with either Lowry or Lucas will put pressure on opponents.
“We can play together, the three of us … Any time you add talent to a team it’s going to be good,” Calderon said.
“All of us, we’re different, different speed, different kind of games. That’s good for the team, (it) is more difficult for the other team to adapt their defence to our offence.”
Calderon plays off of the ball at times when competing for Spain at international events, so believes the transition won’t be hard to make when he has to. Casey has also said he will see if DeRozan can create shots for the team’s better shooters — like Calderon — by handling the ball more himself as well.
Neither Calderon, Lowry, or Lucas will have to deal with Wizards star John Wall on Wednesday, since he is injured.
Stopping Wall wouldn’t have been at the top of Casey’s priority list anyways, since he is far more concerned about seeing how his team executes offensively.
“They’re a very talented team, but again, we’re going into this game worrying about us,” Casey said.
“We’ve got guys that need minutes. We’ve got to get Kyle minutes where he gets a feel for the game to knock the rust off. Jose’s going to be bouncing back … We’ve got a lot of guys we’re trying to get things accomplished with,” Casey said.
“We’re really putting the lens on ourselves, moreso than anything else.”
Now halfway through training camp/pre-season, the Raptors continue to try to work out the kinks. Four exhibition games remain and Casey plans to wait until the final two, by which time he expects to have a better idea of what the rotation will be like, before turning more of the focus to the team’s opponents.
For now, he wants to see a more varied, less predictable Toronto offence that can attack in more ways than in the past.
He also wants the Raptors to play at a quicker pace, but not if that leads to tons of turnovers.
With Lowry just returning though and playing for the first time with his new teammates, that might be unavoidable on Wednesday.
Raptors point guard John Lucas III cool, calm and collected - thestar.com
You can scream and holler and shout at John Lucas III until you’re blue in the face and your eyes are bugging out of your head.
Point out any indiscretion committed on the basketball court, a shot taken instead of a pass made, a defensive assignment blown that leaves a teammate hanging and an easy basket surrendered.
Yell all you want, scream to your heart’s content — Lucas will look at you but take no umbrage at the manner in which the message is delivered.
He’ll listen, hopefully learn and take no criticism too personally; in this era of entitled athletes who are more than willing to whine to agents or friends about slights real and perceived, the 29-year-old Raptors point guard has a simple way to manage harsh words.
“I don’t ever listen to the tone when somebody yells,” Lucas said. “I just listen to what they’re saying because you could be excited, upset, angry but at the end of the day, if you listen to the message, you know they’re really trying to help you and not put you down.”
Lucas comes to that philosophy easily. It’s been like that pretty much his whole life.
Lucas, one of the more refreshing members of this version of the Raptors for his candour, quotability and willingness to explain in detail what’s going on, is well versed in the ways of difficult coaches who can really get on a player.
“I played for some of the toughest coaches, (Oklahoma State’s iconic) Eddie Sutton, my father (the original John Lucas, a long-time coach and former player), Dave Bliss (another NCAA legend). . . . I never take anything as criticism,” he said. “I take it because I feel like they’re helping me, it’s nothing negative, putting me down. It’s something that’s going to help me become a better individual, better team player. Whatever Coach says to me, I take it in and I respond to it.
“It’s usually the right response. I’m a positive person so he can yell at me, he can curse me out, he can do whatever he wants, I’m still going to go out there and bust my butt for the team and the coaching staff.”
Lucas’s willingness to accept coaching — and there are players who are diametrically different throughout the NBA — is refreshing to Toronto coach Dwane Casey. It allows Casey to make points, sometimes forcefully, knowing there’ll be no repercussions.
Raptors coach says conditioning all that?s lacking in Lowry?s game - The Globe and Mail
Dwane Casey wouldn’t let Kyle Lowry sub out of drills Tuesday, saying that Toronto’s new point guard needed to run and shake off some rust.
While the Raptors coach is confident Lowry is ready to run the offence intellectually, physically he’s got some ways to go after missing almost two weeks of training camp with a groin injury.
“He looked good,” Casey said after Tuesday’s practice at the Air Canada Centre. “Mentally he’s there, physically he’s still working, he worked a little longer. . . just because he needs to run, he needs to work, and he understands that.
“But he’s on top of what we’re doing offensively.”
Lowry, who’s watched his team’s first three pre-season games from the bench, is expected to make his Raptors debut Wednesday when Toronto hosts the Washington Wizards.
Lowry, known as a vocal and demanding leader, made some immediate noise at Toronto’s training camp in Halifax, barking out orders in scrimmages. His measure of toughness and sky-high confidence was part of what attracted the Raptors when they acquired him in the off-season.
But the 26-year-old, who could supplant Jose Calderon in the starting spot, hurt his groin just three days in, sidelining him for nearly two weeks.
“Of course, me not being out there on the floor with my teammates, it was definitely difficult,” Lowry said. “I want to be out there competing and learning with them.”
Lowry, acquired in the summer from Houston for a first-round draft pick and Gary Forbes, said he’s not feeling any pain in his groin, and is confident his conditioning will come around before the team’s opener Oct. 31 versus the visiting Indiana Pacers.
“I’m still fatigued. I had 10, 12 days off for resting and rehab so my conditioning isn’t there, but there’s time, I’ve got 15 days to get right,” he said.
Tuesday marked the midway point of a camp that certainly most players would consider too long.
“It gets to a point where you’re looking for somebody else to hit and they’re mad at me, they’re mad at each other,” Casey said. “They’re just looking for somebody else to focus on, and that’s the best thing about the regular-season starting.”
Casey, however, was thankful for four more pre-season games before the real season begins.
“We’ve got to get Kyle minutes where he gets a feel for the game, to knock the rust off,” the coach said.
Rookie centre Jonas Valanciunas could use the extra time too, having played just two games after missing the beginning of camp with a calf injury.
Calderon, meanwhile, said he’ll be ready to go Wednesday after coming out of last Friday’s game with a sore hamstring.
growing weary of pre-season | NBA | Sports | National Post
TORONTO — It was a question asked to Aaron Gray, whom, in about 10 seconds, would give a really thoughtful answer.
Such thought was a courtesy, though, and not required. Is the NBA pre-season too long? Dominic McGuire, breezing past his taller teammate, had an answer that was equal parts loud and succinct.
“Yeah,” said McGuire, already a few steps out of the Raptors’ practice court.
Indeed, there are two types of answers that could come from players on the subject: a) confirmation; b) a lie. This year, there are 30 days that separate the Raptors’ media day and their first regular-season game. Tuesday marked the halfway point, with four more exhibition games to go, starting with Wednesday’s against Washington.
Players are getting antsy. Raptors coach Dwane Casey called Tuesday one of his team’s more unfocused practices in October. As the real games approach, chances are that the focus will not increase.
“It’s hard to say yes it is [too long], just because coming out of the lockout last year, and having only two weeks or whatever it was, I can’t complain about how long it is,” Casey said. There were 17 days, and just two pre-season games between the Raptors’ first practice and their first real game last year after the lockout delayed the start of the season. “I’m sure the players probably think it’s too long, and maybe it is for physical fatigue. But we need it as a team, a young team, a relatively new team coming together … We need the time.
“It gets to the point where [the players] are looking for someone else to hit. They’re mad at me. They’re mad at each other. They’re looking for someone else to focus on, which is the best thing about the regular season starting.”
Of course, coaches will take every second of practice that they can get, especially after the compression of last season’s 66-game schedule almost entirely eliminated the ability to hold practices. Casey will revel in getting time to install more wrinkles into the team’s quicker offence or the zone defence. Given early injuries to Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Lowry — who could be two fifths of the starting lineup on opening night — Casey will not mind if a few players get annoyed with his hollering if it means his players are more prepared.
The players see that, too. It can just get very old.
“It’s only halfway over,” Gray said. “It’s going to be a long season. There are going to be stretches where there are four games in five days or five in seven. It’s the team’s that can fight through those both physically and mentally that are going to be successful.”
Plus, it could be worse. For European club teams, the pre-season can be even longer.
“This is short,” Valanciunas said. “In Lithuania, it was longer.”