Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘Michael Grange’

Bargnani unleashed, media day and some pure horse-sh*t from Colangelo

Posted by Arsenalist on September 30, 2008

Yes, training camp is almost here. The first sign of the new season is media day, that’s the day when they take those pictures you’ll see for the rest of the year next to box scores, player comparisons and such. They measure their height (in shoes) and weight and re-introduce the team to the local media. There’s tons of interviews on the Raptors home page and there’s also Hoops Addict who’s got all the scrum audio including Jermaine O’Neal. See, I’m very jealous of the Hoops Addict, the man happens to have a press pass and if I ever meet the guy I’ll be sure to strike him down, rob him and leave him for the dead. Watch out buddy.

My brother from another mother Nathan Jawai has suffered an injury setback and will miss the early part of training camp. Something came up during his “cardiac screening”. Hopefully its just a heavy heart from missing Fosters beer and nothing more. I’m really curious to see what energy-level and hustle (if any) this guy brings to the table, maybe he can be the Joey Dorsey we never had. Just for the record I’m expecting zilch from him this season. Maybe a few instances of hilarity and couple Hump moments here and there but that’s about it. I’ve also decided to give him a nickname from here on out, people want to call him “Jaws” and such viscous names but given his rather raw skills, massive physique, I’ve come up with the name The Manatee. I will explain myself no further.

Michael Grange has made a post titled “Top Issues Facing Raptors”. He’s bringing up the points that we’ve been talking about for the past three months. Welcome Michael. There is a little quote in his article that is borderline shocking and offense and its attributed to Bryan Colangelo, here it is:

“Team president Bryan Colangelo thinks this is the most talented team the Raptors have had.”

The team that lost to the Knicks and then the following year beat the Knicks were vastly superior to these Raptors: True superstar. Check. Athleticism. Check. Talent. Check. Team balance. Check. Experience. Check. There’s really no comparison, just because we have O’Neal and Bosh on the same roster doesn’t mean we’re the best Raptors unit ‘ever’. This is media hype and quite frankly a hot steaming pile of bullshit.

On to the other writer that covers the Raptors, he’s saying that the Raptors are “a team with much promise but not much depth”. To me that’s an oxymoron statement, I think you need to be deep to have promise, unless by ‘promise’ he means how Colangelo’s promising that this is the most talented Raptors team ever and how one would expect the appropriate results to follow. Anyway, I”m getting caught up in semantics, his article’s about Andrea Bargnani and how he needs to play better for us to have a chance at climbing the Eastern Conference ladder. Enter Bryan Colangelo’s defensive quote:

“Different players react differently to the league and the circumstances. You’re talking about a guy who came in with the pressure of being the No. 1 pick, then the pressure of being the starting centre on a team with high expectations, a team that made the playoffs the year before. Guys evolve. He’s still just 22 – 23 soon – and it’s interesting to see people evolve. I do think that he’s feeling more comfortable in the locker room, on the floor with these guys. I think you’re going to see a different player and a different person this year.”

I hope he’s right but I don’t buy the “pressure of being the No. 1 pick” argument. What was that Caliper test all about? I thought Bargnani had the nerves to shoot a child in the face at point-blank range and not flinch as the blood trickles down his sleeve. He didn’t seem to show that pressure his rookie season so what happened? Here’s what happened: the scouts caught up with him and he/we failed to react. Him and the Raptors expected things in year two to go as swimmingly as they did in his rookie year without much further effort – a very wrong assumption. My take on Bargnani.

Apparently Bargnani didn’t back down once from Jermaine O’Neal over the summer while the latter was going “as hard as he could” at him. This is good news and might be a sign of his new found mental and physical toughness. According to the Sun, he’s gone through a “metamorphosis” and has turned into a female polar bear. Actually he’s gained 12-15 pounds, is stronger, more agile, got rid of his adenoids and fixed his deviated septum (God, I hate those). I’ll reserve judgment until I see him play but gaining physical strength is only the start of the rehab process of Bargnani. His technical issues last year were about as concerning as his physical “can’t box out” issues. We’ll see soon. Soon.

The Bleacher Report (I know, I know) ranked the 10 worst trades of the decade and surprisingly the Vince Carter fleecing isn’t on there. They do know that Aaron Williams sucked balls and Eric Williams never scored a meaningful hoop for us? On a parting note I’d like to remind you that Josh Howard loves America.

I go now. You there. You there on computer. Take this feed and eat it.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , | 24 Comments »

Quick Saturday Round-Up: Raptors hire Gordon Herbert + Summer League on TV?

Posted by Arsenalist on July 12, 2008

Just a couple tidbits happening, the Raptors officially announced that they’ve signed Nathan Jawai. The new news is that he will participate in the Las Vegas summer league (July 11th – 19th) but he’s not listed on the official roster yet. The Raptors take on the Kings tonight at 4PM EST and you might be able to catch the game on P2P.

Michael Grange is saying that we’ve signed a Canadian assistant coach by the name of Gord Herbert. He’s the most successful Canadian to coach in Europe and will work closely with Bargnani, Ukic and Jawai. His Wikipedia page has a bit of info on him.

Current head coach of Aris BC…Herbert attended the University of Idaho and went on with his basketball career in Finland for 12 years…his playing career ended in 1994…Herbert played for Canada at the 1984 Summer Olympics…and at the 1986 FIBA World Championship. Herbert has coached many teams including Frankfurt Skyliners, with which he won the German League in 2006, as well as Paris and Pau Orthez with which he won the French cup in the 2006-2007 season. On July 7, 2007 he officially became head coach of Aris BC.

Leo Rautins is going off on the officiating after Canada’s loss to Germany. If only he’d be as outspoken when calling Raptors games we’d have a lot more fun:

“Everything you could imagine happened. I’ve never seen more travel calls in a game in my life against us, blocks. . . All I can say is I’m just going to tell you what was told to me by German officials, the head of the scorers table told me it was an embarrassment. That kind of sums it up.”

The Knicks might be close to shedding Zach Randolph by trading him to the Clippers who are trying to fill the void left by Elton Brand. Funny, I thought they had narrowed their choices down to Emeka Okafor and Josh Smith. I don’t see the Clippers falling for this one.

The freaking Nets signed Eduardo Najera for 12M over 4 years. Debatable money given he’s 32 but he’ll play hard for them and should be good for at least a couple of those years. Jorge Garbajosa is said to have received an offer from the Lakers; you think Pau Gasol had anything to do with this?

The Anne Hathaway vs. Megan Fox matchup was won by Megan Fox.

That’s about it.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Robin Lopez makes his mark

Posted by Arsenalist on June 5, 2008

I’m looking through my RSS reader and finding zilch from Doug Smith, Michael Grange and Eric Smith concerning yesterday’s workouts at the ACC. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough but on this note I’d like to point to Oregon Live as having the best basketball coverage for a home team.

Jim Kelly had this to say about yesterday’s workouts:

“For us to get the quality of big men in … we’re not down in the lottery, that was a great workout for us in terms of level of play and quality of players and players that we might draft as well”

And this to say about Lopez:

“He might not be the most graceful, his brother is probably a little more polished, but yet, he is a true five (centre) who likes to bang.”

Lopez was the most conditioned athlete in yesterday’s workouts and although its still early he looks to be the prototypical banger that us fans salivate at, especially when watching Anderson Varejao dunk over Bosh for game winners. The rest of the crew from yesterday showed up for nothing but the Airmiles.

There’s videos of every player from yesterday here.

Hear ye, hear ye…TJ Ford is rumoured to be a good fit for the Spurs by Hoopshype who think he’ll be OK playing backup to Tony Parker. Haha..that made me laugh out loud indeed, if you got trouble focusing when playing behind JC who’s the most amicable guy you could possibly ask for, how do you think he’ll fit in with the Spurs? Can he put his “I’m a starter” ego away and accept Tony Parker as his permanent superior? You’d think in the interest of a championship he’d do that but this is TJ Ford and at this young age he’s trying to establish himself as a full-time NBA starting point guard, other stuff doesn’t matter right now. Maybe later it will, but not right now.

Some bad news out of Sacramento, Ron Artest is likely to stay. Of all the players available in the draft and free agency, he’s the one guy that I would bring over to the Raptors. He’s apprehensive that if he opts out he’ll end up taking a pay cut. He’s making 8.4M right now which I think is quite reasonable for a man of his talent given the inflated NBA market (thanks Rashard). I’d go to 9M for Artest and hand him a 3 year deal, if it doesn’t work out you could always trade him. He’s a guy that’ll always have trade value, much like TJ Ford.

As a Letterman guy, it pisses me off that Bosh is reporting for Jay Leno. What pisses me off even more is that he’s actually reporting for anyone. I appreciate his sense of humour and all but you don’t see Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett doing this kind of stuff. When your team gets humiliated in a tournament you’re supposed to carry that feeling for a while. Am I being a bitch? Probably.

Roy Hibbert likes the Jazz and the Jazz appear to like him. Brandon Rush worked out for the Magic who already have 9 shooting guards so I doubt there’ll be interest there. Let’s keep an eye on Rush’s workouts and see what other teams think of him, he might be a steal at #17.

You know how much I love to shit on the Bleacher Report, here’s another example, in their analysis of the Raptors they say this: “The only area with a real weakness may be center”. Did you guys watch a single Raptors game?

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 22 Comments »

Note to Colangelo: F**k pride!

Posted by Arsenalist on January 22, 2008

First of all, I have to give props to Raps Fan for actually doing a video podcast and revealing his mug on the internet. See, I could never do that, I was stepped on as a child and have the disfigurements to prove it. You may hear my high-pitch voice in the podcasts but my Quasimodo looks will never be revealed.

On to matters, I was going to write a deep post about how Colangelo might have fumbled by taking Bargnani as the #1 pick and I started my post like this:

I’m in favor of having a camera entirely focused on Colangelo and Gherardini any time Bargnani is in the game. I’m positive that with every error he commits and every fundamental thing he does wrong, there’ll be a look of slight disgust on Colangelo’s face while Gherardini will force himself to keep a straight face and pretend that this was all supposed to happen. Yes, it was all supposed to happen this way. It’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback with the draft and rip players who didn’t pan out while blasting their GMs for their selection, but this isn’t one of those cases. This is a case of a GM (and his influential friend) reaching out into a pool of talent from where there has only been one truly great player to come out. Now that would’ve been an acceptable choice if 2006 wouldn’t have been one of the better draft years of recent memory and there wasn’t any surefire talent available locally. But there was, and the Raptors said, “Naaaah, not good enough”.

After writing so much I realized that there was nothing I could say that hadn’t already been said or that the people that read this blog wouldn’t already know, so I stopped right there. But I may as well conclude my thoughts by saying that we did choose a project over a sure thing and are suffering the growing pains as warned by Bryan Colangelo as soon as the pick was made. But I don’t imagine that the needed “patience” Colangelo had called for would be of such extreme levels. Let’s look at Bargnani’s box scores over the last few games, if you have a weak heart, don’t click on the link.

Games like these don’t call for patience, they call for forbearance and submission. Now if you bring up this sensitive subject up with Colangelo he’s bound to attribute these struggles to a young European player coming in to the moshpit that is the NBA and having expected trouble in adjusting. But deep down even he must know that things aren’t going according to plan. No matter what he tells Bob McCowan and the media, he must know that this was not supposed to happen. Even Maurizio Gherardini, the architect of the Raptors (somebody remind me how great he is again), couldn’t have expected Andrea Bargnani to struggle so badly that even the staunchest of supporters are now raising an eyebrow at the selection.

I’m positive that the Raptors aren’t going to trade him, not this year, not the next. The reason isn’t even basketball related, the Raptors brass might be willing to give Andrea all the time in the world to find his game wherever that might be. Even if they’ve come to realize that his ceiling was vastly overestimated and that his fundamentals aren’t where they should be, they’re willing to stick through their pick and the reason is pride. And as Ving Rhames put it in Pulp Fiction:

“That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck Pride!”

And that’s exactly what Bryan Colangelo needs to do, he needs to fuck pride and do what’s best for this team. And this unpaid blogger and hardcore fan is saying that it might be time to salvage what’s left of the remains and see how we can increase Bargnani’s value and deal him for something worthwhile. It’s an avenue that needs to be explored. Perhaps it might just be a change of scenery that does the trick for him, maybe he needs a coach like Pat Riley who’ll make him run 100 suicides after every scrimmage where he doesn’t grab 10 rebounds. Whatever it is that will get him out of his funk isn’t happening in Toronto, we’ve tried everything that we can to get him out of his slump and nothing seems to work. These thoughts of him playing the 3 so he can utilize his “quickness” is bullshit, he will get eaten alive on defense and still won’t be able to grab boards because he’ll be playing against more agile players who on top of everything else, play harder than him.

At this point in the season, I don’t even give a shit if he plays well or not as long as he rides the pine if he’s hurting the team. If he’s going to stink things up I want him playing 10 minutes, not 25. Kudos to Sam Mitchell and his quick yank and don’t give me this shit about volume minutes.

Enough about Bargnani!

I always read Michael Grange and Doug Smith‘s blog hoping to find some insight into the Raptors’ player relationships, team camaraderie, what players think of other players in the league and other such insights that only people with media credentials have access to. And although Grange’s blog is pretty good, I’ve always been disappointed with both of them when it comes to providing some interesting insights. For example the Forderon debate, what do players think of it? What really is Sam Mitchell’s day-to-day relationship with Bargnani? Seeing how they sit courtside, the least they could do is tell us what some of the strategies Sam talked about on the sidelines? What was somebody’s reaction when they were taken out of the game? What does Maceo Baston think of himself? You know, shit that we as fan can’t see for ourselves. Anybody can come up with lame ratings.

We have two huge games coming up with Washington right after we play Boston and Milwaukee and judging by the way they manhandled Dallas, I’ll be very thankful to come out 1-1. This team might be better without Arenas (I know, stupid thing to say), the ball is moving through everybody’s hands and usually ending up with either Butler, Stevenson and Jamison, all fine scorers. The Raptors will have trouble against the trio’s athleticism and the size of Brendan Haywood (who we passed over for Michael Bradley when trying to address the inside-presence need, go figure). Assuming we actually go 2-2 in the final three games of the month (an optimistic assumption) we’ll come out 7-6. I know, it’s disappointing.

It’s hard for me to get excited about the dunk contest because the best dunker of the century is still healthy and sitting on the sidelines. This will be the first dunk contest I’ll actually tune into since the VC days and the reason is of course Jamario Moon. If you look at his competition so far, I’d actually say that he’s got a pretty good shot of winning this thing, the primary competition might come from a motivated Gerald Green who’s still bitter about Rob Babcock passing him over. Twice.

I’ll be missing Friday’s game because I’m off to New York for the weekend (not my decision). If one of you would be kind enough to do a guest post for the blog, just email me by filling out this form. Although I can’t pay you, I will be thankful.

Later. Feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments »