Tuesday, October 2, 2012

First practice in the books as the Raptors Camp kicks off

Practice #1 is in the books.

The Raptors squad took the court for the first time today in Halifax.  In a big facility like the Canada Game Centre, the were enough baskets to go around for this 18-man training camp roster. The rookie, Terrence Ross, was out shooting jumpers....Jose Calderon was working out with John Lucas III and Alan Anderson while Jonas Valanciunas was taking part in sideline workout activities (not on the court with his teammates), sidelined with the left calf injury.

Bryan Colangelo addressed the whole Jonas situation in the post practice scrum "Jonas is obviously setback a little bit. He's so anxious to get out there." said Colangelo.

At 7-0, 257 lbs and as one of the biggest bodies on the squad he'll definitely be a big presence on the floor that opposing teams will have problems dealing with.  To add to the fact, he's only 20 years old.

"The bottom line is with Jonas is that you're gonna see a young player who's going to make an impact regardless of what he does statwise this year." said Colangelo "Stat sheets won't show everything that he's capable of doing and adding to this team."

Colangelo adds "He's a guy that with his physicality and his ability to bang inside, fight and wrestle for rebounds. That pulls people away from other things on the court. As long as he's on the court, he'll be affecting the game in a positive way, that's going to bode well not only for him and his development as a player but also for us."

The young Lithuanian is ready for the NBA.  He has already proven what he can do in the European ranks, but now he is excited to play his first year in the NBA.  When asked who he's excited to face off against this upcoming season:  "Dwight Howard...yeah, Dwight Howard.  He's the best centre I think in the league."

There was definitely a good vibe out on the floor this morning as the Raptors training staff were working hard with players even at the end of today's practice.  I know it's too early to tell, but you can already tell that this team has a good blend of personalities which should translate well on the court and should please head coach, Dwane Casey.

Coach Casey was preaching his Pound the Rock defensive philosophy in the post practice scrum which included DeMar DeRozan.  When asked on what the young guard could improve on....he said one-on-one defence. "Specifically Demar because he's going to face that challenge every night.  He going to go against that gunslinger each and every night so he's going to have to be on target each night defensively, or we're going to be in trouble."  Coach Casey said in the post practice scrum.

A successful first day in Halifax for the Raps. Aside from practices, Dwane Casey said they will be exploring the city of Halifax during their visit.  

"There's a lot of history in the city of Halifax, we want to make sure we take advantage of it."

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Hip Hoop Junkies, a Toronto Raptors / NBA / Canada Basketball blog based out of Halifax. Home of the #RAPSTALK Podcast - "Hoops Talk out of Halifax"

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