Monday, December 08, 2008

On the Triano watch...

You can't analyze a coaching game after just a couple games, that much is certainly obvious! However, two games in as the new Head Coach of the Toronto Raptors it does appear that one thing Jay Triano will bring to this team is a new attitude and in a positive way, and that so far is something that can be discussed. As the Globe and Mail's Michael Grange reports in his blog today:

I don't think I heard a discouraging word the entire game. He pulled guys over to tell them they were doing things right, but I didn't hear or see one “Joeaayyy” type moment. This alone is probably worth the coaching change, and this is no disrespect to Sam. But over time it's inevitable that a coach is going to get caught up in player's weaknesses than strengths. It's human nature, mostly. Hearing what they do right from a fresh voice might just be the thing that gets players playing closer to top end of their potential in the short-term. From that they get confidence and a confident player is usually a pretty effective one.

Some have called the appointing of Triano purely a PR move, many have pointed out that the Raptors still have many glaring holes that do need to be addressed (and that's most definitely true!). However this team does require a shot in the arm and a new, warmer Coach will help there. What's unfortunate is that at this point many Toronto fans are starting to realize that just by acquiring 3 very talented players a la Boston this does not mean or equate to a big turnaround and tremendous success. But before people completely lose interest there is one thing that is for certain, and that's that this Raptors team is better than they have been playing lately.

The game yesterday was a game the Raptors should have won against a young and talented Western Conference squad in Portland. But even despite the loss, and the errors still clearly present amongst the players, a fire was reignited on the court and one you could see as well. Even if it is just a short term boost in confidence that may be enough to salvage a season that has appeared quite bleak recently. If Triano can inspire the players and they can keep up the intensity over the next little while the fortunes of this team won't be as bad over the season as they appear right now, the downward trend can easily be turned around if the players start to realize success once more. And with less negatives awaiting their return to the bench, possibly even a renewed belief in themselves as a unit.

Whether the uptempo, fast paced change in play works out in the long run must be debated once we see the Triano project in more detail - and after the hiring no longer becomes "new" and the players adjust to things as just another day at the office. However, at least initially, it appears that the players are responding well to the change. And that in itself, as Grange said above, is likely worth the change.

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