11/4/09

Oak, V.C and Pistons

How Ironic is it that a team struggling on the defensive end of the floor they are going to honour and celebrate Charles Oakley. It was said Oakley has some interest in coaching. I suggested why not here? If for no other reason that quotes would be entertaining. Sam Mitchell has nothing on the Oak man for telling it like it is. Jay Triano might be wise to have a talk with Oakley and see if he has interest in coaching as an assistant. If you think I am lying about the quotes, go check out this article in The Toronto Star. Charles Oakley would bring accountability to this organization or die trying. You already have Alvin Williams on the staff so why not add another former Raptor to the mix? It made sense when I thought about it in the summer and it makes sense now. Maybe even for one night by just his presence in the building the Raptors can find that defensive effort that has gone MIA.

This is long over do to honour Oakley here in Toronto. The guy was a big influence on some of those teams that had V.C and the rest. Jeff Van Gundy as it says in that article in The Star speaks highly of Oakley. Calling him the smartest player that Van Gundy has personally ever coached. Reggie Evans is the first guy since Oakley to be anywhere close to him. Good news on that Reggie front as he is said to have started walking around without that protective boot. It won't be long before Reggie is back and he is needed. When I spoke with Reggie at camp he had nothing but respect in terms of talking about Oakley. If you ask any Knick or Raptor fan you would be hard pressed to find one that does not respect Charles Oakley. If you are at the ACC tonight and don't get out of your seat, something is wrong with you.

I am sure Charles Oakley would have a good quote about this next item. The Raps also plan on honouring Vince Carter when the Magic return on the 22nd. When I heard it, I was like are they serious? Vince Carter being honoured in Toronto is just to strange for words. The fact Raptor fans boo the guy has been made part of the video game NBA Live 10. No idea what this acknowledgment or ceremony will be but it should be truly odd. Vince is a huge part of the history of this franchise. It is not a question on if in terms of what he has done should be honoured. However the Raptors know and pretty much everyone in the NBA knows Toronto fans HATE this guy. The Raptors plan on doing the same for other former Raps that come town like Moe P and Matt Bonner. However both left on good terms and are still loved by the fans. I have said in the past that love him or hate him that Vince Carter likely should have his #15 (Currently worn by Amir Johnson) retired. Is this some kind of test balloon to see if that would ever play well? If it is, much like the Balloon Boy, it may leave most filling empty in the end at the results. Some day Raps fans may turn the page and maybe even make it possible to have Vince's number 15 retired as it should be. However that day is not November 22nd 2009, and fans will not cheer V.C in any large numbers. If the Raptors have an arch enemy it is Vince Carter.

On to the current day Raptors that have opportunity knocking as Detroit comes in missing 2 key players in Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. In the case of Prince it will break a lengthy ironman streak for him. Still the Raps had 3 key guys out for the Magic and could not get the job done. Amir Johnson plays against his former club in Detroit. Perhaps he can add a spark to this game. In addition the Pistons are playing the second half of a back to back coming in off a win over Orlando 85-80. Orlando with V.C back in the line up by the way. The Pistons enter tonight 2-2 and will be one of those teams battling to make the playoffs in the East.

The Raptors need a win bad in this one as they hit the road to play a desperate and frustrated Hornets team, Dallas fresh off a win over the Lakers and the Spurs. None of those games look very promising in finding a win on the road. The pressure on this team is only going to increase as we move forward so they need to get wins when possible and tonight is a night where it should be.

If the Raptors hope to get a win they need to push the pace and try to use the one thing that is going fairly well it's offense. Chris Bosh has been on a tear, and with no more Rasheed Wallace in the Piston line-up, I would expect that will continue. If the Raps are going to have a decent chance at winning, they want to get the score into that magic pizza level and not in the 80's. Take advantage of the Pistons being on that back to back and come out focused and attack early, much like they did against the Cavs in the same position. When the schedule offers you a gift you need to answer the bell and take it.

Jay Triano was on Toronto's Fan 590 talking about his players still trying to get use to Hedo Turkoglu and what he can do in terms of passing and making plays. There is no question that Hedo taking that extended rest in the pre-season is at least costing the Raptors in the short term. Raptors if you think about have yet to see this roster altogether at full strength from the very first day of camp till today. Evans and Wright have also been in and out along with Bosh at the start of camp.

The point guard that finds his game first in Toronto may actually rule the day. Both Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon have struggled. If it lasts much longer I am going to call it the curse of T.J Ford or the curse of the Horns. The day is fast coming that Jose Calderon will have to prove he can be a decent defender or run the risk of not being a starter or at the very least not playing in the 4th quarter.

Jack Armstrong and Eric Smith were talking about the Raptors defense yesterday on the Game Plan. Jack seems to think the Raps should mix in some zone looks and try to hide the face that this starting 5 is lacking in terms of defense. However you care to look at it the Raps have said they need to get better on defense and that will be the test of Triano as the coach. If he fails to get this team to improve on the defensive end he will unfortunately fail as head coach of this team. That truly is the bottom line of it all. Perhaps Oakley could return on a staff with Jeff Van Gundy some day. He has always been a name you hear thrown out by Raps fans as a possible coach for this team. He fully admits that he would like to go back and coach someday. I would hate to lose him on T.V because he truly has become one of the best at that in such a short time. Jay Triano's job is safe as we speak but if that ever were to change the name Van Gundy will be mentioned as long as he is still sitting at a broadcast table.

Let me make it clear that I am not suggesting Jay Triano's job is in jeopardy after 2 bad losses. Just stating that his time however long or short it will be is going to be defined by how this team will play on the defensive end of the floor. Still regardless of all that is going on with the Raptors it is great to have Charles Oakley back even if it is just for one night. Still it would be nice to have him sitting somewhere on that Raptor sideline on a nightly basis. Coach in charge of accountability ...Charles Oakley!!!!

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