Today in Raptorland - 3/25/08
Old 03-25-2008, 09:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Post Today in Raptorland - 3/25/08

How low will Raptors go?

Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo recently cut short a scouting trip in Europe to return to Toronto, and not because he enjoys battling rush hour traffic during snowstorms.

Colangelo is deeply concerned about the way the Raptors are playing and didn't feel comfortable being away while his team struggled.
"I would say concerned is the best way to describe it," Colangelo said from his Toronto office yesterday. "I think everybody is doing a bit of soul-searching and trying to get back on track and pick up some momentum going into the playoffs."
"This is where you find out what we're made of," said Colangelo, adding that he won't use long-term injuries this season to Chris Bosh and T.J. Ford as excuses.

"All in all, do we look at our record and say 'given all our circumstances, are we content?' No," Colangelo said. "You can always do better.

"I always expect to win games," the GM added. "I think we have the players that have proven that they can perform. But it's about maximizing the performance of all the individuals. We've had too many situations where players have been good for a period of games and have not performed for a period of games. We have to find a way (correct that)."
Bosh's words praised

"I think it was great that Chris stepped up and made some comments and challenged his team," Bryan Colangelo said yesterday. "We're always happy to hear a voice from within the locker room step up and address accountability.

"Chris seems to pick his spots and he always seems to be effective (when he does so)."
The Raptors cancelled a planned practice yesterday. No word was given why, only that the players are reportedly fatigued after a recent gruelling western trip. The Raptors will practise today before playing host to the Detroit Pistons tomorrow night
Nowitzki out indefinitely

Nowitzki met with reporters for about 10 minutes yesterday to discuss the leg injury he sustained the previous day. He said he feels fortunate it's only a moderate high-ankle sprain and a mildly sprained knee and he hopes to be back in a week or two. But he also realizes it could be longer and the Mavericks might miss the playoffs without him.

"This is probably the most painful time to miss games," Nowitzki said. "That's very discouraging."
Badgers to have Flowers waiting for Davidson star

Flowers, Wisconsin's senior defensive specialist, likely will guard Davidson's star guard when the Badgers and Wildcats meet Friday in the round of 16 in the Midwest Regional in Detroit. The winner plays the survivor of Kansas-Villanova

Pool of Euro talent getting a bit shallow

"If you look at this year and next year ... you almost feel like there's a little bit of a drought right now," said Raptors assistant general manager Maurizio Gherardini. "Generally speaking, I would say the generation after that seems to be pretty intriguing already, with players playing professional level even at that young age."

But that's two or three years down the road. The number of quality players available this year is down. Only Italian Danilo Gallinari and Nicolas Batum of France a pair of athletic small forwards are being touted as picks in the top half of the first round this year.
Bosh's call-out bang on, but team relies on him

The truth is, though, that what Bosh's teammates do in the coming weeks won't matter nearly as much as what he does. The truth is, their first-round playoff fate will rest largely on his shoulders not to mention on the opponent his team is dealt. (Because, let's face it, if the Raptors draw anybody but Orlando, if it's Cleveland or, worse, Detroit, they have no shot at winning a best-of-seven.)

The vast majority of Bosh's teammates will give exactly what they've been giving; they're not exactly concealing untapped talents. And maybe T.J. Ford, the point guard who has often come out on the wrong side of a battle with an injury-plagued season, is the exception.

But Bosh is a completely different story. He's a just-turned-24 all-star with at least half a decade until he hits his prime. His upside is unknown. And now wouldn't be a bad time to reveal something that's been so far unseen.
But it's also essential he dominate his one-on-one matchup.

That's the thing about making $13 million a season, which is about $5 million more than the other four guys in the starting lineup earn combined.

The team's built around you.

When the game's on the line, it relies on you. When you don't come through, it dies with you.

Bargnani disappearing when struggling team needs him most

But when the franchise player figures it's time to speak out, it matters.

So what's he thinking about? And whom?
Bosh didn't name names, but one name that could use some calling out is Andrea Bargnani, their enigmatic second-year forward from Italy.

He wasn't even on the floor during the Raptors' flaccid fourth quarters on Friday and Sunday, so you can't blame him for those no-show jobs.

But you can blame him for not showing up.

During Bosh's 10-game absence with a knee injury, Bargnani might have been expected to take the extra minutes and extra shots and run with it.

Not even close, unless you count 11.2 points on 37.5-per-cent shooting as stepping up.
The Raptors aren't blind to Bargnani's struggles, though there is still the belief that his ceiling is high enough that it's worth giving him the time to reach it.

But privately, they acknowledge he's fallen short of expectations this season and his off-season will be closely monitored, with a priority on addressing his NBA weaknesses rather than whatever national team commitments he might have.

It's hard to make the case he doesn't need the work.

You can't blame Bargnani for what Bosh said was a collective loss of nerve down the stretch over the past couple of games. That's because he wasn't on the floor, which says everything.

Armstrong enjoys best of both worlds - splitting time between NBA and NCAA

"There's nothing like being at the Air Canada Centre on a Friday night and witnessing a great Raptor game. When you have a sold-out house and both teams are totally engaged in the process, there's nothing like it. These guys are the greatest players in the world, and when they put their minds to it, it's just remarkable to watch," Armstrong says.

"Then the next night, I'll be doing a St. John's-Louisville game, or a Syracuse-Providence game for ESPN, and guys are diving over tables, and the band's playing, and the crowd is going bananas. That's the beauty of the college game."

Final game of regular season may decide first-round rival

The Magic (46-26) currently are lodged in the No. 3 playoff slot -- and their position isn't likely to change.

They would face the No. 6 seed, and three teams are hovering around that spot -- the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers.
An interesting scenario could develop in the Magic's final game of the regular season April 16.

They face the Wizards in Orlando. If playoff positioning is still an issue affecting Orlando's possible first-round opponent, the Magic might have to decide whether to rest or play their starters.
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Old 03-25-2008, 10:14 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 03-25-2008, 11:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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