Archive | February, 2010

Raptors’ Triano only thinks about coaching

9 Feb

Triano and assistant coach Alvin Williams at practice / Charles Vanegas

Toronto Raptors head coach Jay Triano talks to the media every single day. But no matter the outcome of the previous game, the most prevalent question is always the same: what does he think about the high possibility of Raptors star Chris Bosh leaving at the end of the season?

“I don’t [think about it],” says Triano, the first Canadian-born coach in the NBA. “I don’t have any control over it. There’s no reason to concern yourself with something you have no control over. I just do what I can to make Chris the best player he can possibly be.”

Chris Bosh addresses the media / Charles Vanegas

So far, Triano, 51, has been accomplishing his goal this season. Bosh has averaged career highs in both points (24.4) and rebounds (11.4), and the Raptors have won seven of their last ten games, and are closing the gap between them and the division-leading Celtics. It’s no surprise given the amount of time Triano puts into his job.

As a student-athlete at Simon Fraser University, he became good friends with Terry Fox. He says he was inspired by Fox’s work ethic and determination.

“[We met] right when he lost his leg. He would come into the training room everyday and talk about how he was going to run across Canada, and people didn’t believe him at first. He started training and put everything together for the run and things just exploded from there. He was a very driven individual and motivated a lot of Canadians, me included.”

Triano is in the office by 9:20 a.m., with a Starbucks coffee in hand. Assistants Micah Nori and Marc Iavaroni are already viewing film on their laptops from yesterday’s 115 – 104 win over Sacramento. Sportscentre is on the big screen, and the coaches discuss Sunday night’s Super Bowl.

“They were asking Jarrett Jack who was going to win – and he says ‘the Argos’. He’s going to become a local favourite real soon,” says Triano.

By now, assistant coaches Alvin Williams, a former Raptor, and Alex English, have both arrived, along with video coordinator Bob Peterson. It’s time for Triano’s staff to watch film together in order to plan this morning’s practice.  English, a former NBA forward and hall-of-fame member, is concerned with the team’s post defence.

“Our bigs aren’t playing strong,” says English.

The other coaches agree.

“We did not screen them well,” says Iavaroni.

“And the screens we did have, we didn’t use well,” says Triano.

Iavaroni points out a situation where forward Andrea Bargnani was caught out of position, allowing a Kings player to score a three-pointer. Despite the win, Triano is unsatisfied with the team’s defensive play from the day before. Iavaroni, former coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, draws up a complicated drill on the whiteboard, and explains it to the rest of the staff. Initially, Triano is concerned that it will mess with the team’s recent success, but signs off on it after further discussion.

Heading to the practice gym, players DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems also share the elevator. Despite being the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft and one of the most recognizable Raptors, DeRozan still introduces himself by saying “Hi, I’m DeMar.”

DeMar DeRozan (R) and Amir Johnson at the O'Connor Community Centre / Charles Vanegas

Hedo Turkoglu, one of the team’s nine offseason acquisitions, sits in the players’ lounge, enjoying a pre-practice snack. The team is requiring him to don a mask while playing, to protect a fractured orbital bone under his right eye. He says it’s difficult to play with because he constantly has to readjust it, but understands that it is for the best long-term.

At 11 a.m., the last few stragglers enter the Raptors practice gym. Weems and a trainer are engaged in a competition to see who can hold a handstand the longest. Weems’ lasts about five seconds, while the trainer, in a gymnast-like manner, holds it for at least twice that. After stretching and run-pass drills, Triano splits the team up. Those who played significant minutes in yesterday’s game get to take it easy: they only have to practice shooting. Those with limited playing time have to partake in a three-on-three scrimmage. Reggie Evans, who has not seen the court all season, clearly has something to prove. For 30 minutes, he works hard to prove to his coach that he deserves to play.

Later in the day, Triano, along with general manager Bryan Colangelo, and players DeRozan, Weems, Amir Johnson, Antoine Wright, Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack are all in attendance for the unveiling of a newly refurbished basketball court at the O’Connor Community Centre on Victoria Park Avenue.

“This is the sort of thing we do the rest of the week when we’re not on the court,” says Triano.

After every kid has received an autograph from each member of the team, Triano leaves to have dinner with his girlfriend. He then returns to his office to review more game film, in preparation of the Raptors next game against Philadelphia.