Raptors Media Day – Let the games begin…

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

The match up series will return to its regularly scheduled programming after this update on Media Day mayhem. The 9 new faces on the Raptors roster assured that a generally routine day would be full of optimism, quotes and a few jokes. I didn’t have the opportunity to attend (which I hope changes in the future), but wanted to bring you some news from the ACC. Since Holly (@stackmack from The Score) and Franchise (@RaptorsHQ from Raptors HQ) were both in attendance, I shot off some quick questions and they were kind enough to answer with their observations.

Question: First thing’s first… Did either of you get to try out any of the new eats at the ACC?

(@RaptorsHQ) – I didn’t try any of the eats but one of my co-writers who was there did. He had some of the doughnut things and one of the pizza pizza dogs. He said they were delicious ha ha!

(@stackmack) – Seeing how I’ve yet to eat in the media room during all of last season, I chose to pass on the food. Eating and working just don’t seem to mix for me, but everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves. Put me that close to the game and I’m focused on one thing only. Once I finally get home on game nights around 11:30 I’m famished!

Question: Which scrum was harder to get through, Andrea Bargnani or Hedo Turkoglu?

(@RaptorsHQ) – HEDOOOOOOOO…by a long shot. After 12 seconds I saw Sonny Weems walking solo so went to talk to him. Not just painfully slow, but guys like Hedo and Bosh EVERYONE talks to so you don’t really get anything new and interesting. Plus Andrea gets better with each season. This year he was even cracking a few jokes as opposed to two years ago when it was one word answers.

(@stackmack) – Andrea actually makes me laugh with some of his answers. You kind of get the feeling that he’s looking at us media types like, “Really? I just want to play basketball, please leave me alone”, so sometimes you get these answers that are half deadpan, half serious and they just crack me up. As I said in my media day round up, I will not be going to Mr. Turkoglu if I’m writing on deadline!

Question: Both of you had a chance to see DeMar in Vegas. All the talk as of late has been about him adding some bulk. How much of a change did you see?

(@RaptorsHQ) – Definitely looked like DeMar bulked up. Slam ran a post today about the magic “15 pounds bulk-up” and I’d say that was about right.

(@stackmack) – While the talk was largely on the weight that Bosh has gained, it was clear DeMar was not joking when he tweeted all summer about the long hours of training he had put in. He’s got some shoulder definition that simply wasn’t there before. Besides summer league, thinking back to his first pre-draft workout here in Toronto, he’s gained a lot of size and upper body strength since then. Great to see a young guy come in fit and ready to continue working. Speaking of the team as a whole, everyone looked ready to go.

Question: Bryan Colangelo sounded very excited when speaking about the upcoming season. What were some of the things that stood out for you when he addressed the media yesterday?

(@RaptorsHQ) – I could listen to the Legomaster all day. He just has a way with words and whether you agree with all of his moves or not, he does a great job of giving insight into things. I posted a 20 minute piece of the scrum with him yesterday on the site and I wish I had gotten the very beginning, just a fascinating listen. Anyways, for me, 3 main things stood out:

  • His level of respect for Jay Triano. BC was quoted as saying “I feel better about this training camp and the start and the preparation that’s gone on then I have in a long time…and I’ve been doing this for 14 previous seasons.” I think that speaks volumes about the coaching staff and unfortunately, Sam Mitchell.
  • The magic number 50. BC feels this team has the ability to win 50 games, and probably needs to do that to meet the expectations he’s set out, that is to say a second round playoff birth. That’s not to say that Colangelo thinks this team WILL win 50, but that’s the number it probably will take to get a fourth or fifth seed, and therefore a good shot at the second round thus avoiding the Clevelands, Bostons, and Orlandos.
  • How excited he is about seeing what this team can do. He admitted that his offseason moves probably aren’t going to solve every issue, but he does feel that he and his staff addressed a great number of last year’s problems and therefore he’s extremely excited about the potential of this new group of players.

(@stackmack) – That the team is a team. Jay may be a first year coach, but he is not alone in this. The team was “built” by Bryan and Jay together. How impressed Bryan is with the work ethic and preparation of the coaching staff as a whole this season. With nine new faces on the roster and two new assistant coaches in Marc Iavaroni and Alvin Williams, it’s really refreshing to hear that the staff is working just as hard as the players to turn over a new leaf this season.

Question: Bosh and Turkoglu will sit out the first part of camp. How much do you think this affects the timeline for the team to gel?

(@RaptorsHQ) – With the timelines we were given in regards to Bosh and Hedo, I don’t think this is that big of a deal. The off-court bonding is already taking place so while Bosh (and especially Hedo I think) might be a step slow to start, there’s still essentially a month to go before opening night so hopefully there will be lots of time to gel on-court. And in any event, I think it’s going to take a month or two of regular season before the real gelling happens anyways. It’s during that time that I hope everyone stays healthy.

(@stackmack) – It sounds like Chris is sitting out as a precaution after the team saw the trouble Jose Calderon had with the hamstring acting up throughout the season as a result of his coming back too soon. No need to rush either Chris or Hedo back, if it could risk or compromise their health later on down the road. Of course, in an ideal world you have your entire roster together, but life doesn’t work like that, so you roll with it and be thankful that your star player put in a hard summer of work in prep for a big season and that your biggest offseason acquisition will get to bond with him on the sidelines during training camp.

Question: Player surprisingly bigger than you remembered?

(@RaptorsHQ) – Amir Johnson. He talked to me about bulking up in the offseason and he definitely looks bigger than he did in Detroit.

(@stackmack) – DeMar is the guy I’ve got to go with for this for size because he’s gotten so much stronger. Although, standing behind Chris for his scrimmage while wearing flats for the first time in that atmosphere, I realized I was dodging elbows which were at about eye-level.

Question: Player you are expecting to surprise everyone this year?

(@RaptorsHQ) – I’m sticking with my boy Sonny Weems, who apparently is already trying to dunk on everyone. Not saying he’ll get major minutes, but I do think he’ll see some time even on this deep roster.

(@stackmack) – Jarrett Jack has been a player I’ve watched since his days at Georgia Tech and I really admired the toughness he has played with over his NBA career. I think people may overlook the grit and intensity he can bring both to the floor and to practice each day, challenging the guards. In terms of athleticism or excitement, Weems is the guy who will be leaving jaws drop on the floor if/when he gets a chance to be in the open floor. The guy can get UP. I’d love to see a dunk off between he and DeMar during a practice at some point this season.

Question: Funniest guy based on your interactions?

(@RaptorsHQ) – Tough call – Jarrett Jack was clowning me for being a Duke fan but the funniest was probably Reggie Evans just because for a guy who’s supposed to be the hammer on this team, his voice sounds like Alvin from the Chipmunks.

(@stackmack) – Andrea. I know, you’re thinking I’m crazy, but sometimes he just shakes his head at the questions he’s asked as though we’re crazy and maybe we are, but Andrea’s reactions are priceless.

Question: Easiest player to interview?

(@RaptorsHQ) – Amir Johnson. He could have been my best friend from college that I hadn’t seen in a while. He actually walked over to me and asked if I was straight or if I needed anything!

(@stackmack) – We’re really very lucky with this squad. A group of easy, personable guys to deal with. While Jack and Jose Calderon are both very agreeable and open to answering questions and Chris is one of the easiest superstars you’ll ever hope to deal with, for me personally -if we’re talking new additions- I’d have to say DeMar because I’ve spoken with him at the draft, for a week in Vegas and then again over the summer for a couple of magazine pieces. While he’s a little shy at first, he’s a nice, normal 20 year-old who lives for the game and is as happy and excited to be living his dream as you’d expect.

Once again, I want to thank both Franchise and Holly for giving their takes on several topics. Make sure you check out their coverage of media day (HollyRaptorsHQ) and if you doing the twitter thing – get at them.