The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Don’t blame it on Roko

Posted by eastcoastrapsfan on October 13, 2008

Arse’s post game post here.

Doug Smith wrote in his Blog:

Action: No Roko.

Reaction: Maybe tomorrow?

Asked a member of the staff if the young point guard was available Sunday (Ukic had been bothered by some bruised ribs, I’d been told) and, yes, it was just a DNP-CD.”

So Roko was a DNP-CD in a pre-season game?Is that common for rookies who need experience, to not get a whiff in a pre-season game? I’m sure Sam will give him his minutes playing against CSKA Moscow, so he can get that experience he needs playing against NBA players… See what I did there… If Jose or Will go down, we’re going to need Roko and it seems like Sam had made up his mind about him and he might as well pack his bags, because obviously there’s just too much at stake for Sam to worry about getting his rookies experience in the pre-season. It’s got to be great for the rook’s development.

Notice how JO got the minutes he asked for despite foul trouble. I know Sam wanted to make good for not getting him much burn last game, because he “left him out too long”. Isn’t what he meant “I lost track of one of my main objectives and I messed up”. Isn’t Sam the reason JO sat so long in the first place. Why not just say that. It’d be a refreshing first, but I think Sam’s too insecure in his abilities to do that, and perhaps rightfully so. I’ve heard Bill freaking Belichek say he was out coached in a post game; I’ve heard Pat Riley say that. Heading in to year 5 of Sam, I’m still waiting for his first mistake….

Something to watch for this season is the relationship of JO and Sam. I think Sam is intimidated of JO and he should be. Not physically, well maybe that too, but here’s a guy who embodies everything Sam has been preaching about, a guy he played against and a guy who was brought in to provide what Sam said he was missing. Now it’s up to Sam to make it work, and I don’t think JO’s the type that’s going to put up with  Sam’s demeaning attitude if Sam’s not bringing anything else to the table. JO’s going to be able to see the difference too.  If play calls and subs make us scratch our heads, it’ll make JO scratch his too, and from everything I have seen of JO so far, he tells it like it is. JO is the embodiment of either BC giving Sam everything he asked for, or Sam’s bluff being called. Yet Sam can’t manage to look at young players and get the guy enough burn at the same time? JO’s nickname may as well be “Truth Serum”.  Because he’s going to answer all the questions we have about this team.

In my opinion, if preseason games are an extension of practice than the coach should be busier and more in control to see his goals accomplished.   That’s why you practice, right? It’s not just “what you do” when your not playing. I get the impression Sam still approaches the game from the vet player’s mentality, and not even a winning vet player, but a journeyman “pay check” player.

I’ve ranted too much, and I fear any points are now lost to just another angry “fire Sam after a pre-season loss”, which is so typical, but that’s not really what I’m going for. It’s not fire Sam, it’s not this game, it’s just my observations. I’ve had two years to see that Andrea does not have very good rebounding instincts, and I’ve had four years to see Sam can’t focus on more than one thing at a time, and lacks the humility to recognize it and lean on his staff a little more.

Happy Thanksgiving.



22 Responses to “Don’t blame it on Roko”

  1. Robert Archibald said

    Eventhough it feels wrong, I gotta agree with this post. I am so sick of Smitch always finding the weaknesses on this club and exploiting them to the other team’s benefit. He never seems to find our strengths or hide our weaknesses. I know it is only preseason and it is REALLY too soon to start jumping on Sam, but he was crap last season too. No one has addressed how brutally he was out coached in the playoffs last year. As stated earlier, he made our poor rebounding stand out (while deciding to bench Rasho) and hid our strengths (as our PG’s were outclassed by scrubs). Sam has yet to do ANYTHING this season to show that he has improved. HE has found another mediocre scrub to fall in love with, I think Salomon has played more minutes than any Rap so far.

    I really like this team, I think we have loads of potential, I just doubt the Smitch’s ability to realise that potential. My only fear is that our talent isn’t so good this year that it hides how bad Sam is! His calling card was his ability to develop players and we always heard about how he mentored KG, the hope was he would be able to help CB4 reach his potential. C’mon, KG and CB were both going to be great with or without Smitch sucking their ass and taking any credit for their abilities. Bosh, who has never said anything bad about anybody seemed to be getting exasperated in last year’s playoffs.

    I just don’t think this team will ever reach its potential with Sam Mitchel calling the shots.

  2. PapiJulio said

    Wow, that’s a two post rant! I feel your pain & frustration. Only a hardcore fan would be bleeding through the ear after a couple pre-seasons games. Sammy boy will be under a microscope until some wins roll out, but he needs to not panic himself because the players will too. It’s almost like Sam has a ‘Master Plan’ he’s not willing to share with anyone, but just yells at everyone to do their job. If only they knew what their job was…

    I did notice ‘glimpses’ of team defense and ball movement from the bench. Bargnani’s aggressiveness impressed me, but why do the Raptors beat a dead horse to the ground and run the same play over & over & over. This is where Sam needs to recognize the other team is VERY aware of that play you just ran the past 2 sets and your history shows you’ll run it again and again. After we get humiliated with running the same play Sam then yells at the players and make a quick sub. Just keeps it FRESH Sammy boy. Keep it FRESH!

  3. Raptors2009 said

    Sam’s coaching skill (or lack thereof) will be exposed this year. He has no excuses not to produce some quality basketball. The team lacks depth but it still has enough talent to win around 45 games by beating the bad teams and playing .400 ball against the good ones. He’s got to know he’s not good enough and will look for excuses every chance he gets. I’m not reacting to the preseason loss, this has been a trend in his coaching from day one. He does not correct mistakes and never acknowledges when something isn’t working but repeats the same mistakes over and over again.

  4. Robert Archibald said

    Thanks for seeing that rant as a sign of a fan and not a hater. I know it is only pre-season, but as i said in my post this isn’t the first few games we have seen Sam’s act. If there isn’t a marked difference in his ability to prepare his team, especially with this team, he should be shown the door.

  5. nicolas said

    smitch is a bad coach , he has done nothing to impress me
    the 47 win season was a fluke
    get him out of my site
    always thinking his better then everyone else
    he can’t use the best 3pt player for inbounce plays …
    that sadness

    close games give the ball to bosh and let him brick his 20 footer

  6. fluxland said

    This is by far the dumbest thing I have read in a while. I don’t even what to get into the various ridiculous points made.

  7. FAQ said

    Players make the coach. If the team fails, tribal honking fans tend to turn on the coach or a rookie player. Mitchell is not a perfect coach, and unhappy fans quickly turn upon him because fans consider themselves bball intellectuals.

    A marginal coach with a marginal team cannot hope to succeed. A marginal coach(Rivers) with a super team can win it all.

    For the critics of Sam Mitchell, I challenge them to name a replacement coach, or stfu.

  8. khandor said

    Three points:

    i) As is, this year’s team is not nearly as good as many/some others seem to think it might be, although it does have a number of serviceable parts which I like a great deal; and,

    ii) As is, Sam Mitchell, although not a great NBA coach just yet, is not nearly as bad as some/many others … who also seem to know very little about NBA coaching, based on what I’ve read from them, thus far … seem to think he is.

    iii) Sam Mitchell is not the person who traded for Kris Humphries, traded for Rasho Nesterovic, drafted Andrea Bargnani & PJ Tucker, traded for TJ Ford, signed Fred Jones, signed Anthony Parker, signed Jorge Garbajosa, signed Juan Dixon, signed Luke Jackson, signed Jason Kapono, signed Carlos Delfino, signed Maceo Baston, signed Jamario Moon, traded for Primos Brezec, signed Linton Johnson, traded for Jermaine O’Neal & Nathan Jawai, signed Will Solomon, signed Hassan Adams, signed Roko Ukic, signed Jamal Sampson, etc.

  9. Johnn19 said

    Ukic sat because Solomon has shown he will be capable of starting, making plays , and scoring if Calderon is not available, and there is no way Ukic is ready, or will be ready, untill he gets NBA experience, and learns to shoot. Solomon needs the PT to improve his NBA game, cut down the to’s and adjust to the speed and atheticism of the NBA players.

    Sam Mitchell is Colangelo’s choice to coach the Raptors for the next 3 years, he is going nowhere @ a cost of $12 mil to fire him, and hire someone else for $12-16 mil. You can bitch and complain all you want if it makes you feel better.

  10. khandor said

    IMO … Doc Rivers is more than just a ‘marginal’ NBA coach.

    A marginal NBA coach would NOT have been ‘good enough’ to lead last year’s Boston Celtics to the NBA Championship … over last year’s Los Angeles Lakers, coached by Phil Jackson.

    Doc did a terrific job with last year’s team and deserves full credit for that victory, from a coaching standpoint … as do the Celtics’ players:

    Rondo, Allen-R, Pierce, Garnett, Perkins, House, Posey, Brown-PJ, Powe, Davis, Cassell, Allen-T, Scalabrine, Pollard & Pruitt

    from a player standpoint;

    as does Danny Ainge, from a GM’s standpoint … plus Wyc Grousbeck, from an owner’s standpoint.


    When an organization wins it all, in the NBA, it’s a TEAM VICTORY.

  11. khandor said

    From the standpoint of NBA talent evaluation …

    If asked to choose exclusively between Will Solomon and Roko Ukic, based on what I’ve seen from them, so far, I’d classify these two players in the following way, as PG’s, in the NBA:

    Right now … Solomon [Mike James] is ahead, marginally.

    Down-the-road … Ukic [Jose Calderon] is going to be the better player.

  12. Raul said

    Take a look at this trade, I’ve already posted it in altraps ——>

    It could be possible and every part cover their needs

    Sacramento: get rid of the big contrat of Brad Miller and continues his rebuilding with 3 expiring contrats and 2 young players

    Chicago: Creates the space for Rose to starts and adds a big man in the middle, possible their weekest position. Plus, cut about 4 millions of cap space

    Raptors: Get their true and proven lockdown defender at the three and add a legit and young scorer at the wing (Potentialy better than Delfino)

    Golden State: Add a great PG to play along Monta Ellis (who’s not a PG, is a SG) and create space for Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright.

    The great thing about this is that almost every player is in the trade market right now

    Any ideas?…

  13. Robert Archibald said

    I don’t think that Sam Mitchel is an awful coach. He did an excellent job of coming into a clubhouse that lacked any discipline or cohesiveness and helped to transform it (along with some smart roster moves by BC) into a very tight team. I think that over the Lenny years a cancer of indifference came into the team that took years to get out.

    That said, every coach has a lifespan with a team. The coaches that last the longest are the great x’s & o’s coaches that don’t have to be ‘player’s coaches’. Jerry Sloan has a frosty relationship with many of his players, all he does is coach and his players play. His team has enough character guys (esp Deron) that they don’t have to worry about culture on that team.

    However, coaches like Mitchel work differently. They get players to buy into the team. They win the players over and expect the players will play hard for them in return. To his credit, I think Sam has done this very well in Toronto. Unfortunately, now that the culture of the team has changed, I think the Raps need a different type of coach. I am willing to see if Sam, who is still very new to being a head coach, can indeed do that job, but i don’t think the signs are pointing that way.

    Yes, we still owe Sam a few years on his COY contract. But coaches salaries don’t hurt the cap, but wins can increase revenues (I know this is a very tenuous link between firing Sam and showing any fiscal responisbility). Sam will be sitting pretty and has earned the right to another NBA job, there will always be enough teams in the league that need a similar transition to what the Raps needed a few years ago. In the end, it will be BC’s and MLSE’s decision, and as has already been stated, the word out there is that Sam is in the hot seat.

    In terms of replacements? I doubt that there isn’t another coach in the world that can come in and improve this club. I can give a couple of names for people to rip on, but I am sure BC could recruit better than ME listing names off the top of my head. that said,

    JVG – His name often comes up as a potential candidate in Toronto, and usually I disagree. But with the current look of the raps line up, with a half court offence and a tough defensive look inside, I think the Raps personnel might actually be a good fit with VanGundy’s approach.

    Dave Blatt – A respected international coach that has won all over the world. I think he reflects well what the Raps are trying to do with their international flavor and he has a record of taking teams to the next level.

    I don’t know who Sam’s replacement should be if he does get fired, but I am tiring of seeing him do the same things over and over. I think we have plateaued now under the Smitch and to move on to the next level we need new coaching. Maybe Sam will prove me wrong, but for him to do so he will have to change his ways and improve himself.

    Raul – I think the trade looks great from a Raps perspective, though I don’t ever see it happening. When is the last time 4 teams were able to agree on a trade?

    Khandor – I know we’ve clashed before, but is your comment an endorsement of Mitchel? I’m pretty sure we disagree on what BC has done, but my question to you is whether you believe Sam is the man for this team, this season. I think Sam might be similar to Karl, where he can come in and improve a team but his act might wear thin after a few years.

  14. Robert Archibald said

    P.S. Add Ettore Messina to my list of potential replacements for similar reasons as Blatt. We will get a glimpse of him in tonight’s game against CSKA Moscow.

  15. khandor said


    In answer to your question …

    Let me say it this way, instead.

    No, this Raptors’ team is not the best fit for Sam Mitchell, as a NBA head coach … but, then again, neither was he the right coach for their team in the aftermath of the 27 win season either, IMO, which is when he went on to capture the COTY Award.

    No, my comment is not an endorsement of Sam Mitchell as a NBA head coach … but, neither is it a critique; it’s a simple statement of fact.


    re: I think we have plateaued now under the Smitch and to move on to the next level we need new coaching. Maybe Sam will prove me wrong, but for him to do so he will have to change his ways and improve himself.

    What indicates to you that the Raptors may have plateaued under Sam Mitchell … rather than, “The Raptors may have plateaued under the Bryan Colangelo”, since it is not Sam Mitchell who has been responsible for the constant roster re-shuffling in Toronto for the last three seasons or, in fact, for the re-hiring of Coach Mitchell by the Raptors, in the first place.

    [PS. If you’ve read the story about the Chinese General, in the other thread, then you know already where it is that I think the responsibility for Leadership actually lies, i.e. at the top of the food chain.]

    [Arsenalist, if you could please remove the first copy of this message for me. Thanks.]

  16. Have you seen the first half of Roko being on the court? He seems to show awesome court vision and speed for breaking the defence.

  17. eastcoast said

    I thought Roko looked good penetrating and dishing, but he didn’t get in in the 2nd half either. I think he was on of the guys not running the plays. I can think of a few time Andrea went to set the pick and Roko wanted none of it and wouldn’t use it.

    It may be that Roko penetrating is better than to have him run the pick and roll where teams can go under on his weak shot, but if that’s what Sam wanted and your not ruining it, I understand why Sam would sit him down too. Also, I think Sam really wanted to win that game.

    Perhaps Roko just wanted to show what he could do? But if Sam want the bench to run the screen and roll, or his 2 pg to run the screen and roll, and if Roko’s shot is as bad as they say, it may better that they go with Will. However, a bit of penetration from the 2nd pg might not be the worst thing if Roko could win Sam over to let him run the offense through penetration, when he’s on the floor. Hopefully, Roko will improve his shot so he could have more options. I’m not sure if we’ve seen Roko take a jumper yet in a game yet.

  18. khandor said

    IMO, the unnamed players who Sam Mitchell made reference to in his post-game presser committed their cardinal sins on Defense [not on O]. :-)

  19. eastcoast said


    I guess I was wrong in terms of Roko’s not running offence attributing to his sitting in the second half against CSKA. I guess Sam just really wanted to win that game and rode Jose, but thanks for droppin’ the knowledge, Khandor. BTW Did you read the Star today.

    “While lauding Solomon for his defensive abilities, Mitchell has questioned the 30-year-old’s offensive decision making in the last two games.

    Running different plays than the one the coach wants and being passive are Solomon’s two cardinal sins.

    “The problem is, he’s got to run the sets and be aggressive and make plays being aggressive,” said Mitchell.” :-)

    I’m glad Mitchell is going to be giving Roko more of a look, I just wish he could have found the motivation to do it a couple games ago, instead rewarding “the sponge” with a DNP-CD versus Philly. It’ll be nice to see how it goes tonight.

  20. khandor said


    Yes, I read the quotes attributed to Sam Mitchell in today’s papers … and accept what he said about some of the problems Will Solomon had vs CSKA Moscow at the offensive end of the floor.

    I did not say that Solomon committed no offensive transgressions during that game.

    On the contrary, what I said was that … IMO, the reason certain unnamed players were called out in the post-game presser by Sam Mitchell was on account of their defensive transgressions, not their cardinal sins on offense.

    The quotes in today’s paper are not mutually exclusive with the comment I made yesterday. :-)

  21. eastcoast said

    I’ll accept your points Khandor, but “Joe the plumber” in Ohio will be harder to convince.

  22. khandor said


    I’m not trying to convince either ‘Joe’ or you. :-)


    If I say something with which someone else disagrees, that’s okay by me.

    If it seems to me as though what I’ve tried to say might have been misunderstood by someone/others then I try to explain better/further.

    If someone asks me a question, based on what I’ve said, then I generally try my best to answer them. :-)

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