It's been a quick one with all the moves that the Raptors have made and with two months away until pre-season, the team can take some comfort in the roster they've assembled. However, a big reason why this team seems to have a certain identity can be traced back to Colangelo's quick decision to retain Jay Triano. By solidifying his coach early, he's assembled a team that seems to follow a style that is endorsed from top to bottom at the coaching level. As a result, Triano of course filled out his coaching roster with the likes of Marc Iavaroni and retained the services of Alex English, a coach that I had fully expected to move on to a team that would have better prospects to further his head coaching ambitions.
However, I am not disappointed by these moves and from the sounds of most Raptors fans, this is a coaching staff that fans are at least willing to give a chance. For the first time in a long time, Toronto seems to have a unified vision from management down to coaching, which is good news because the Raptors have been able to make some tough decisions that have set the foundation of the forseeable future.
That's not to say there won't be some second guessing.
Is Triano really the best that the Raptors could find? Did they rush their staffing decisions a little too much by not exploring what was out there in the market? Is Iavaroni really the best fit for this team after doing so poorly with the Memphis Grizzlies? Why did the Raptors bring back Alex English when there are just so many more experienced candidates out there to help Triano, such as P.J. Carlesimo? And finally, what new things will Triano bring to this team in the upcoming year after having such a shoddy half a season record-wise in 2008-2009?
Perhaps though, it was Triano's appearance on The Hour a couple months ago that went a long way toward answering some of those questions about why Raptors have chosen to build a staff around him.
Talking about his time on the Canadian National Basketball Team as both a player and a coach, the Raptors' new coach explained to viewers about his career and how his experiences have helped shape him into the coach that he is today. He also talked at length about his vision for the Raptors. For instance, the day after Triano finished off the season was the day he began planning out the Raptors' upcoming season. Putting together a book within four days, Triano approached Colangelo about his vision and subsequently, that same portfolio was presented to the MLSE board of directors to convince them that Triano was the man for the job. Triano also mentioned about his morning ritual of looking at the previous game's tape early in the morning and doing small systematic things such as changing the diet of the Raptors so that they wouldn't be bringing fast food on to the plane.
Beyond being a well-versed coach, Triano really seems to be dialed in to the current generation of NBA players. He has his old methodologies for sure, but you get the sense that he knows what makes the current crop of ballers tick, and understands the media-crazy world they live in.
As an example of this, Franchise recently ran into Triano at an MLSE event and he spoke at length about a wide range of social media topics; from Twitter (he has no problem with his players announcing what bars they are going to frequent the night before his practices ha ha) to Facebook.
From the appearance on teh The Hour however, I found the most interesting basketball related news of the interview had to be when George Stroumboulopoulos asked him about LeBron James's fine at the end of game seven against the Magic. The Raptors' head coach touched on the fact that he felt that there has been too much of a fraternity in the NBA and that he actually understood and respected LeBron's attitude after the game. Taking a page from his Canadian heritage, Triano talked about how hockey doesn't have that same kind of fraternity with the opponent and even touched on the fact that in the warm-up skate, players seldom cross the line to their rival's rink space. He talked about trying to address this issue and inferred about how difficult it is with the Dinos as they are a team with strong international connections with other players that extends beyond the action on the court. Nevertheless, Triano is a coach who seems determined to change that "soft" attitude starting this upcoming year at training camp.
We know that both Triano and Ivaroni have fiery tendencies and I believe we can expect many more broken clipboards if an attitude change isn't visible on this roster in the upcoming season. The players have to realize that the other team, for at least four nights of the year, is their enemy. Heck, even the officials to some extent are their enemy as well.
Likewise, if Triano is successful in planting these "seeds of aggression" into the troops, that will probably go a long ways in terms of Toronto's final record. It may also help to address some of the rebounding and defensive deficiencies that Howland touched on in his last article.
We know that the personnel pieces aren't all there yet for this team to make a complete mental overhaul in terms of attitude from the past couple of seasons.
So anything Triano and his staff can lend to help further this cause could pay huge dividends.
Especially come playoff time.