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Colangelo Wants the Raptors to Run

Dec 4, 2008 – 12:35 PM
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Matt Watson

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Jay TrianoWhen discussing Sam Mitchell's firing yesterday, my colleague Tom Ziller cited Toronto's dismal defense as a likely contributing factor -- last year the Raptors' defense ranked slightly above average; this year, it's one of the worst in the league.

Such a decline put Mitchell in an awkward position, especially since his entire coaching philosophy of rebounding and defense was somewhat at odds with Bryan Colangelo's preference to run-and-gun -- if a defensive coach can't coach defense, what use is he?

Mitchell was already in place when Colangelo took the job, and after Mitchell led the team to their first division title and was named Coach of the Year two seasons ago, Colangelo faced pressure to sign him to an extension. After hearing his comments at yesterday's press conference, I'm convinced Colangelo has given interim head coach Jay Triano (pictured), who's coached Steve Nash for Canada's national team, a mandate to run. From the Toronto Star:
"As of last week, I believe, we were 29th in the league in fast-break points. That was concerning to all of us," said Colangelo last night. "There was talk about running, but it's something that I'm not sure we ever really thought about or practised or discussed to the extent it appeared on the floor with any kind of habit."
Fortunately, the tools are in place for the Raptors to become an up-tempo team. Jermaine O'Neal won't be winning any footraces, but he can trigger the fast-break with his rebounding, and his frontcourt mates Chris Bosh and Jamario Moon are both extremely athletic. Plus, no one in the league finds the open man (9.5 assists per game) while protecting the ball (4.9 A/TO) as well as Jose Calderon.
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