While the on-court activities have been well documented this summer, Vicious D takes a look at his top 5 off-season changes as well...
With the (pre-)season just about to start, the very thought of basketball is enough to make most of us at the HQ nervous with anticipation. Like going for a school reunion, we want to know how we measure up to everyone else now that we've gone through a complete makeover , and have seemingly found a comfortable identity to go with (both for the Raptors team and our website actually!)
However, for the Raptors, it's not just a matter of the changes that will directly affect product we see on the court. The Raptors have made some serious changes outside of their players. Here are some of the most interesting.
5. Remaking the ACC with a $50 million makeover
How much money does MLSE have that they can afford a $50 million dollar makeover in the middle of a recession? The recently finished makeover creates a new atmosphere for the entrance to the ACC, but for most of us that go through the Union entrance, how much of the renovation will we see? The studio for pre- and post- game broadcasts has been moved to the side, making it less of a crowded affair to leave the stadium, but no longer will we get the energetic chants to end our Raptors victories. Heck, they created this $50 million dollar makeover and still didn't remove those two rust buckets in front of the stadium. However, having seating that can quickly change from basketball to hockey and vice versa means that the Raptors' schedule might open up a little more in the future. And to be fair, when you have some expensive luxury condos being built next door, it's a nice gesture to give them a TV that they can view from their balcony.
4. Bringing in Alvin Williams back as an assistant coach
I made the comment earlier in the year during draft tryouts that I wasn't surprised that Alvin Williams was sweating after a little workout with the rookies that had come into camp. No, what was interesting was that he was absolutely drenched in sweat whereas guys like Austin Daye looked like they merely jogged out to Dairy Queen for a snack. As the guy that we know constantly left it out on the court, it'll be interesting to see how Alvin Williams's style will affect the Raptors this season. How he pushes our back-court will dictate the tempo of the games and his intensity and style of chasing down his man will definitely need to rub off on our guards. Our guards might say that they had a tough assignment, but only Alvin can say that he had to chase down Allen Iverson for seven games in a row. At the very least, we'll get a good idea about how much more certain players have worked out because if they don't look even half as sweaty as Williams, it means they're not doing their job.
3. Removing Full Court Press from the Raptors TV lineup
One of my favourite shows on Raptors TV used to be Full Court Press. Having Norma Wick host a discussion with some of the best writers in the local area provided some interesting ideas and knowledgeable discussions. Best of all, there was a certain chemistry between Norma and her guests that sometimes even included surprise guests who would be walking through the ACC. Since Norma's removal, the show has become an ugly mess with three personalities and a "host" who is nothing more than a director or producer from the broadcast room. No chemistry could be developed and the "host" had absolutely no personality or chemistry with those inside of Center Sports. At some point, you have to put a show out of its misery.
2. Eric Smith joins the Game Plan on the Fan 590 (2pm - 4pm)
Wow, so this means that both Eric Smith and Jack Armstrong are going to be on the fan for two hours every day! Of course, both will be away at the same time for some basketball games, however it's about time we got two of the brightest basketball minds together for an afternoon chat. It's a little bit of a wash since we've also now lost the Thursday Hoops simulcast, as well as the Eric Smith and Paul Jones Double Dribble segment. However, Game Plan is a daily show, which means we'll have two of my favourite local basketball personalities every day. Does that mean the Fan 590 is taking basketball more seriously this year? I doubt it, but heck, at least we can have some intelligent basketball discussion. Speaking of which...
1. Firing Paul Johnson (preferably out of a cannon, into the sun) and hiring Adnan Virk as a full-time employee
Has my hate of Paul Johnson become irrational over the years? I've often wanted to slap Paul Johnson around for the comments he would make during pre and post game shows. On Hoops, he was even more exposed for all his flaws. The smarmy, often misleading host did his best but never seemed comfortable in the situation. Thinking back to my days at school, there was sometimes a kid that no one wanted to play with and didn't know what he was talking about, but he kept trying to interject in everyone's conversation with his "knowledge". Paul Johnson seemed like that kid on the Raptors TV broadcasts. Replacing him is Adnan Virk who has cut his teeth on The Score. Virk has already shown a rapport with Raptors and management during the Jarret Jack conference and will become the new "anchor" of Raptors TV. Virk is more than serviceable in his new role, but perhaps the professionalism and ability are more astonishing due to the man he replaces.