Franchise gives his thoughts on Tim Chisholm's in-depth interview with Toronto Raptors' coach Jay Triano...
Yesterday during our "Lunchbox Links," we posted a link to Part I of Tim Chisholm's talk with Jay Triano at TSN.ca.
Part II is up this morning, concluding a fascinating back-and-forth between Chisholm and Toronto's coach next season.
Off the top, Chisholm did an amazing job in this piece. (And I'm not just saying that because I still owe him money from last year's fantasy basketball pool.) The questions are extremely well-thought-out, and through both parts of the interview he leaves no stone unturned, touching on topics ranging from the expected starting five, to Bosh's future with the club.
Apart from the great job Chisholm did on the question side, what also makes this such a fascinating read is the candidness with which Jay Triano answers the questions. It results in not only some expclicit language, but also some great insight into the former Canadian Senior Men's coach's approach to the upcoming season.
To that end, I thought I'd pick out three key pieces from the entire interview that I felt were worth discussing:
1) Chris Bosh:
TC: As a coach, is there ever a voice in the back of your mind that thinks you have to make this situation as accommodating as you can for Bosh to try and entice him to stay beyond this year?
JT: [pause] In the back of your mind maybe, but I think if you let it to come to the front of your mind, I think that's when you start losing what will really be the difference for him in the end, and that's this team being successful. If I do that, and he embarrasses himself or doesn't do well, and you're giving him all the shots, then it's not going to work. He's a good enough player that he's going to get rebounds and he's going to get buckets, but if you start to make changes to try and get him there you lose the rest of the team and that's when you start losing games. That's what's going to determine whether he stays or not, how successful this team is going to be. That's my opinion. I don't know, maybe he's already decided he wants to go somewhere, maybe he's already decided he wants to stay, but I think that he likes the way that this thing is going, with the group of players we've brought in and the future where it's going to be and we've just got to make that it goes that way.
I'm leading off the second piece with this quote from Jay in response to a question from Tim regarding Bosh's future.
By all accounts it looks like both Jay and Bryan are taking the same approach here in that they feel they've done all they can personnel wise to make Chris want to stay, and they expect that if the team now makes use of those new players to put together a banner season, they'll let the chips fall where they may. From the interview it sounds like Triano and Bosh have a great relationship and therefore really, if the wins come, Toronto has done all it can to try and retain CB4's services, including helping take some of the offensive pressure off of him.
In part I of the interview, this section regarding Chris' role under Sam Mitchell really stood out to me:
I just think in the past, largely because of our personnel, Sam would give him the basketball and he would hold it on the block and then make a play and if he got double-teamed, he'd throw it out and other guys would get involved. If they didn't double, then it was gonna be whether Chris can beat this guy one-on-one tonight is going to determine whether or not we win or lose games.
This was an element to Sam Mitchell's offense that frustrated many a Raptor fan and yet often Mitchell post-game blamed losses on "missed shots." While at times the Raptors' lack of shooting efficiency was a major reason for an L, there was an equal amount of time where myself and many other fans felt that Sam's playbook was too simple; as Triano noted, if Bosh couldn't beat his guy one-on-one, then sometimes it was going to be a very long night.
This was especially true early last season I believe as teams stopped doubling CB4. Without much talent surrounding him, opposing clubs knew that they could play Chris straight up, and even if he dropped 40 on them, the rest of the group wasn't going to be able to keep up without getting open looks off of said double-teams.
This coming season it sounds like Triano is going to ensure that the ball keeps moving and therefore Chris, while a focal point of the offense still, won't have to simply go one-on-one (or one-on-five as was the case last year at times) on each possession.
The return of Kevin O'Neill??
From this quote, it sure sounds like his ghost will be haunting the ACC next year:
TC: People keep talking about Marc Iavaroni as a Tom Thibodeau [the Celtics' defensive guru] for the Raptors. Will he be tasked solely with designing the defense, or is it more collaborative than that?
JT: No, it's going to be collaborative. The good thing is that he, Micah, Alvin and I were all here when Kevin O'Neill was here [Marc actually worked with O'Neill in Memphis], and while it's not Kevin O'Neill's system, it is a system that he ran here and we've all seen it and we're all familiar with it. We agree as coaches that it's probably one of the better ones that we've seen. That's what the defensive schemes that we put together are going to be.
While I'm sure the thought of returning to the early Jalen Rose days of 82 to 78 basketball isn't admittedly a thrilling prospect for fans, there's no questioning then-coach O'Neill's defensive efficiency. Triano talks at length in both parts of the interview about playing a motion style on offense so the hope is that the combination of this and O'Neill/Iavaroni's defensive system will result in a nice mix in terms of W's and fan enjoyment. While most fans are loathe to watch low-scoring grind-it-out affairs, I'd argue that last year's inability to defend was just as sickening.
Again, based on the interview, it sounds like Triano thinks he and his staff will be able to implement the right mix.
3) Line-Ups and Depth:
TC: Is there a point where there is too much depth for a team?
TC: Do you feel that this team is straddling that line?
JT: No, I want that depth because the one thing you can never account for is injuries. If everyone stays healthy all of the time then we're going to have a little bit of a problem, but it's going to be a good problem. It's going to be a problem this year when we're going "which three guys do we put in suits tonight?" instead of "who the heck do we put into the game?" So it's kind of flipped this year.
Wow - talk about a bare bones assessment of last year's team.
Hindsight of course is always 20-20 but this quote gives you a good idea of just how frustrating it must have been at times for Triano (and Mitchell before that) lastseason. The talent level just wasn't there, both in practice and in games. Therefore players like Joey Graham were beating up the likes of Jason Kapono and Quincy Douby in practice, but then having to go up against Lebron James and Paul Pierce every night with much different results.
This year it looks like Triano is envisioning three tiers of players (something I envisioned as well earlier this summer) with the second group being the "grinders" of the bunch. This should make for all sorts of fun in practice and when you add in the fact that the third group has some interesting players as well, it only ratchets the level of competitiveness for playing time up another notch.
As you can see in the quote, Triano does note that too much depth can be a bad thing however, something Raptors' fans experienced during the 2008-07 season. Therefore the onus really will be on Jay and his staff to figure things out in order to maximize each player's productivity. From the interview it sounds like DeMar DeRozan will be the team's starting 2 guard but Triano repeatedly emphasizes throughout his chat with Tim that performance in practice and in games will be the final deciding factor. So players like Quincy Douby (who apparently sees himself as Toronto's Eddie House) and Sonny Weems, both of whom appear to be much further down on the depth chart, could suddenly become major factors for the team.
This added depth is just one part of why Triano concludes his talk with Tim noting that not only is returning to the playoffs a must, but a run in them is essential as well.
And while we're still a good two months away from the start of the season, that last statement alone is music to Raptors' fans ears after last season's disappointment.