DeMar DeRozan Gets The Last Laugh

Earlier this weekend I wrote an article documenting DeMar DeRozan’s shooting woes to start the season.

Shortly after I wrote my article, another article popped up on Raptors Republic pointing out DeRozan’s shooting woes over his first nine games.

Going into last night’s game I felt pretty good that I had spotted an area of concern for the Raptors.

Oops.

DeRozan proved me wrong by going 10-17 from the field while scoring a game-high 27 points.

Not only that, but he went 4-5 shooting the ball from the mid-range. He went 1-1 from the left side of the court, 1-1 from the right side and 2-3 from straight on.

It turns our DeRozan’s lack of worry following his poor game against the Chicago Bulls was justified and a sign of his maturation.

“I’m not worried at all,” he had said after scoring a season-low 10 points in the loss to the Chicago Bulls.

“If this was two years ago I’d think it was the end of the world.”

But that game wasn’t the end of the world and his bounce-back game against Utah where he scored a game-high 27 points proved that.

“Like I tell guys all the time, when you win or you play well everybody is hugging you and kissing you and on your shoulders,” Dwane Casey boasted to the media after Toronto’s 111-93 win over the Uta Jazz.

“When you have a bad game everybody wants to panic. I don’t know how many times Babe Ruth struck out but I guarantee he struck out more than he hit home runs. And when you’re a scorer for a team like DeMar (DeRozan) is for us, you’re going to have nights like that. I don’t care how many he misses, he’s going to come back and hit those same shots and he showed it tonight. I don’t care who we played against tonight; I had confidence he was going to come out and have a big night.”

So, the moral of the story is nine games doesn’t make or break a season.

Silly me for jumping to conclusions.

Off The Dribble – November 15, 2014

Jordan Mercier and I talked about what the Toronto Raptors learned from playing in a nationally televised game, Derrick Rose's latest injury setback and Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving learning a tough lesson.

This week on Off The Dribble for Extra Peterborough 90.5, Jordan Mercier and I talked about what the Toronto Raptors learned from playing in a nationally televised game, Derrick Rose’s latest injury setback and Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving learning a tough lesson.

We also did our 24 Seconds, Hot or Not and Games To Watch segments.

Click here to listen to this show online.

DeMar DeRozan’s Early Season Shooting Woes Are A Concern

DeMar DeRozan’s shooting woes to start the season have become a cause for concern.

Despite the fact DeRozan is leading Toronto in scoring (20.6 points per game) and steals (2.0 per game), there are concerns with his game when you dig deeper into the numbers.

DeRozan has never shot a high field goal percentage over his NBA career (a modest 44% from the field), but he is currently shooting 39.3% from the field which is the lowest of his career while he’s attempting the second highest amount of field goal attempts per game (16.7) of his career.

Never a great shooter from beyond the arc (26.6% on three’s over his NBA career), DeRozan has gone an anemic 2-10 from beyond the arc to start this season. It’s a noticeable dip from the career-high 30% he shot from beyond the arc last season.

When you dig into DeRozan’s advanced numbers on NBA.com his shooting woes become even more worrisome.

DeRozan’s doing a great job hitting shots 10-14 feet from the basket (48%) and within five feet (52.3%), but besides those two areas, he’s struggling mightily.

Nearly half of his 150 field goal attempts this season have been jumpers (64). However, he has only made 18 of those jumpers, good for 28.1%.

Also worth noting is that a large amount of his field goal attempts have come from 15-19 feet (54 of his 150 attempts), yet he’s only making 28.8% of those shots.

The fact that DeRozan’s jumper isn’t falling and he’s electing to shoot from areas of the court where he’s shooting a low percentage make for a troubling tandem.

Still, despite all of this, his head coach, Dwane Casey, was clear last night that DeRozan will continue to have the green light to shoot.

“He missed some shots he normally would make and that he will make as the season goes on,” Casey explained to the media last night after the loss to Chicago. “He’s a smart player and he knows what to take. He took what the game gave him. He had some shots he normally makes and those shots just didn’t fall tonight.”

It will be interesting to see if DeRozan’s early season shooting woes are an anomaly or a glimpse into what could be a tough season for Toronto’s only all-star.

Based on his poor shot selection mixed with his inability to hit jumpers, it could be a long, challenging season for DeRozan.

Observations From Toronto’s Locker Room After Losing 100-93 To Chicago

Here are seven observations, notes and quotes from Toronto’s locker room after they lost 100-93 to Chicago:

  • This was the first time all season Toronto’s locker room had a somber vibe to it. Terrence Ross didn’t want to look at the stat sheet and nobody was laughing or joking around. The team clearly took this loss hard and from talking with players it’s clear they were embarrassed about the loss and how the third quarter in specific played out.
  • Dwane Casey on Pau Gasol’s big game: “One of the things we wanted to do was take the 3-ball out and to a certain extent we were able to do that as they were 4-15. Coming into the game they were one of the top 3-point (shooting) and transition teams in the NBA. We just felt like we were going to make him score and make it as hard on him as we could, but not go into a double team and leave (Mike) Dunleavy and (Jimmy) Butler and all of those guys open on the weak side. We went to more traps there in the fourth quarter, but, again, he’s good at what he does and he made it hard on us.”
  • Jonas Valanciunas compared the loss to a “cold shower” because it will humble the team a little bit.
  • James Johnson on what the team can learn from this loss: “You find out you really aren’t as good (as you think).”
  • Greg Stiemsma has some slick “gator” dress shoes he wore out of the locker room.
  • Speaking of shoes, Greivis Vasquez has a pair of white and another pair of red Maryland kicks. He has taken a Sharpie to the red kicks.
  • Former teammates in Houston, Kyle Lowry and Aaron Brooks, met up in the tunnel after the game to chat for a bit.

Podcap: Sloppy Third Quarter Dooms Raptors Against Bulls

Here’s audio from Dwane Casey, Jonas Valanciunas, James Johnson and DeMar DeRozan after Toronto lost 100-93 to Chicago.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Click here to download the MP3 of this Podcap.

Tom Thibodeau Raves About The Toronto Raptors, DeMar DeRozan

Tom Thibodeau raved about the Toronto Raptors while doing his pre-game media scrum. In particular, the character of DeMar DeRozan and how this young team has started to gel.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Click here to download the MP3 of this media scrum.

Tom Thibodeau Defends Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose has faced a media firestorm over the past 48 hours, and his coach, Tom Thibodeau, had heard enough. Tonight Thibodeau stuck up for Derrick Rose while talking with the media pre-game.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Click here to download the MP3 of this media scrum.

Dwane Casey’s Scouting Report On The Chicago Bulls

Dwane Casey gave the media his insight into what makes the Chicago Bulls so successful while giving an informal scouting report on the team.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Click here to download the MP3 of this media scrum.

Catching Up with Luke Ridnour

Luke Ridnour talked with me about the basketball camp he ran this summer with his wife, adjusting to life in Orlando and being a mentor to some of Orlando’s younger players.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Click here to download the MP3 of this interview.

In The Scrum With Jacque Vaughn

Jacque Vaughn chatted with the media about rookie point guard Elfrid Payton, the growth of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and matching up against the Toronto Raptors twice in less than two weeks.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Click here to download the MP3 of this media scrum.

Dwane Casey Explains How DeMar DeRozan Has Evolved As A Player

Dwane Casey raved to the media how DeMar DeRozan has evolved as a player the past few seasons.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Click here to download the MP3 of this media scrum.

Podcap: Toronto Pulls Off A Magic Trick And Steals A Win From Orlando

Here’s audio from Dwane Casey, Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson after Toronto’s miraculous 104-100 win over Orlando.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Click here to download the MP3 of this Podcap.

Observations From Toronto’s Locker Room After Beating Orlando 104-100

Here are 11 observations, notes and quotes from Toronto’s locker room after they beat Orlando 104-100:

  • Lucas Nogueira was in a great mood after the game and borrowed a reporters recorder for a mock interview with Greg Stiemsma. Also worth noting is Nogueira was rocking the purple shirt fans were given at the game last Friday.
  • Dwane Casey: “We can’t be annoyed when teams come out and give us their best shot.”
  • Greivis Vasquez and Terrence Ross appear to be in a battle to see who has the flashiest kicks. Both players had bright neon kicks in their lockers.
  • Speaking of kicks, you probably can’t tell on TV that Vasquez takes a Sharpie to his shoes and writes motivational stuff on ‘em. Pretty cool, though.
  • Vasquez on Toronto’s defence tonight: “I think our focus wasn’t there and that’s on the players. We should have been more focused. It was a test for our character and we got the win, but it wasn’t pretty.”
  • Patrick Patterson wasn’t happy with Toronto’s effort on the defensive end tonight: “For the first half, pretty much the first three quarters, I thought the lack of effort was pretty much shown throughout those time periods. Our inability to communicate meant we couldn’t stop them in transition or from getting easy buckets in the paint and at the perimeter when they were shooting 3’s. We know they are a 3-point shooting team and a transition team, but, with that being said, we were unable to follow the scouting report.”
  • Orlando shot better from beyond the arc (48%) than Toronto did from the field (45.5%). Ouch.
  • Dwane Casey explained what Orlando did to slow down DeMar DeRozan: “They changed up matchups. They were bringing two and a half guys over on him. (Nikola) Vucevic wasn’t really double teaming, but he was meeting DeMar halfway. It made it tough on DeMar. The good thing about it is he found people and he moved the ball. He started passing the ball and then when we got him in some good mid-screen rolls and that really helped us in that situation.”
  • Dwane Casey on the game being too quick for Jonas Valanciunas: “Yeah, when they had (Channing) Frye at the five and (Tobias) Harris at the four, yeah, it was really quick. That’s one of the reasons why he put Patrick Patterson at the five and James (Johnson) at the four and tried to match down to them. That helped us because they came out and were pushing the ball down the floor and they really pushed the tempo on us. That’s one of those things where I thought we had to go to a smaller lineup.”
  • Valanciunas was openly mocked by his teammates for his choice in shirts. Personally, I admire a man who is confident enough to wear a shirt covered with bright pink flowers…
  • Vasquez: “We need to remember we are nobody in this league just yet.”

Ex-Toronto Raptor Alvin Robertson Facing Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking Charge

Brendan Kennedy
Displayed with permission from Toronto Star

By the time Alvin Robertson sunk the first basket in Toronto Raptors history — a 25-foot, three-point jumper — he already had a lengthy rap sheet and a lousy reputation.

The former defensive stalwart for the San Antonio Spurs arrived in Toronto saddled with baggage both on and off the court, ranging from fights with teammates and coaches to criminal charges related to multiple domestic violence incidents, bar fights and a bizarre burglary.

His recruitment to the fledgling team had already raised eyebrows when just days before starting in the Raptors’ inaugural game, Robertson was arrested and charged with assaulting a pregnant ex-girlfriend at the SkyDome hotel. The case was later dropped when the woman refused to testify.

“The things I’ve done in the past, I hoped it wouldn’t start all over again in Canada,” Robertson lamented to reporters back then, as if he was pursued by his own transgressions.

In fact, Robertson’s personal troubles only worsened in the ensuing years: criminal mischief, harassment, more violence. A rape charge was tossed, but he spent a year in jail when a judge ruled he had breached his probation — from the 1996 burglary — and had “more likely than not” committed the sexual assault.

Now 52, he is facing the most serious allegations of his life and the prospect of spending his remaining years behind bars. In February 2010, Robertson was arrested and accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl and conspiring with others to force her into prostitution. He had a court appearance Monday, but a trial isn’t expected for several more months.

Robertson — who lives in San Antonio, where the crimes are alleged to have occurred — denies the charges against him and has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

“These allegations have been, like, the all-time worst,” he told Bleacher Report this month. “I really don’t have any involvement with it. . . . This has really, really killed me. Just killed me.”

“It’s hard for me to believe that he has these charges against him,” Glen Grunwald, the former Raptors GM who was vice-president of legal affairs during Robertson’s short tenure with the team, told the Star on Monday. “He was always easy to talk to and intelligent and well-spoken and well-behaved when he was in Toronto, except for (the alleged SkyDome hotel assault).”

Robertson was never punished by the NBA during his 10-year career, which ended in Toronto. Chances are if he had faced the same charges today — in this post-Ray Rice professional sports climate — he likely would have dealt with some measure of internal discipline from the league or the teams he played on.

With regard to the alleged hotel assault, the Raptors said at the time that Robertson should be deemed innocent until proven guilty and would continue to play while the court process unfolded. Grunwald said he couldn’t remember the specifics of the team’s decision-making process back then. But he remembered Robertson as a “tough” and “competitive” player and recalled seeing him in San Antonio in 1997 or ’98, a year or two after he left the team. “He seemed to be doing okay. He had his construction business.”

That business reportedly fell apart amid Robertson’s legal and financial troubles.

On the court, Robertson was the best kind of nasty. The four-time all-star led the league in steals on three occasions. He’s also one of just four players to record a quadruple double (20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals). He is the NBA’s all-time leader in steals per game.

Prior to this latest, most serious arrest, Robertson’s lawyer, Brent Delapaz, said his client had put his criminal past behind him. According to Delapaz, Robertson was in negotiations with Wal-Mart regarding a basketball instructional video that would be sold in stores.

“I think it’s safe to say he had turned a new page in his life and was doing well — until this.”

Delapaz, like Robertson himself, insists he is innocent. He says Robertson’s loyalty to old friends has led him to be unduly caught up in this case and that he is being targeted because of his high profile.

Since being released on bail, Robertson — who has three children — has been forced to wear a GPS tracker on his ankle and is subject to monitored work release and other bail conditions, with which he has struggled to adhere. This year alone he has violated his conditions on three occasions.

There have been some “misunderstandings with procedures,” Delapaz said, but Robertson has done his best to comply with the orders.

“He’s ready for his day in court. He’s anxious to clear his name.”

Podcast: Buckle Up For Another Wild NBA Season

McNeill and Cheel talked about a wild start to the NBA season, Anthony Davis being in beast mode, Carmelo Anthony’s legacy, Ed Davis talking smack to Charles Barkley and rumors of Kevin Love opting out of his contract this summer.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Click here to download the MP3 of this Podcast.