10 Questions With Raptors Assistant Coach Jay Triano

by Eric Smith
September 5, 2008

This will be my last entry for a couple of weeks. I'll be boarding a plane to Paris later this afternoon and I'm not bringing my laptop with me. If I have a chance to check my emails, etc. in some internet cafe or hotel business centre in Paris or Geneva (or Rome) I might fire-off a quick blog. But I'm not counting on it. So the next time you'll hear from me will likely be on Monday, September 22.

Thus, I thought I'd go out with a bang and give you a 1-on-1 with Mr. Canada - assistant coach, Jay Triano.

Jay was gracious enough to spend some time getting grilled (and grilling me a bit too) in "10 Questions" ...

Smith: What is your greatest moment or most memorable moment as assistant coach of the Raptors?

Triano: Opening night of the playoffs when we played New Jersey - before the game. We had just finished a great season with 47 wins. Bryan (Colangelo) was Executive Of The Year and Sam Mitchell was Coach Of The Year. But the crowd singing O Canada before that first game was incredible. Sea of Red. Even Jim Todd and Alex English were emotional for our National anthem. It just showed how much pride that the fans here have and that we can be successful and how much fun it will be.

Smith:Do you think we'll ever see an NBA team back in Vancouver ?

Triano: I dont know. It seems like teams are leaving the Northwest. With the dollar stronger now than it was back then it probably makes more sense now, but Vancouverites are still a little bitter and it would take time to win them back. It would all come down to sponsorship dollars. The fans were great, but the corporate support was not where it needs to be. It would be fun if they were awarded another franchise because everyone I talk to says that Vancouver was the best place to visit on the road. Until then.we are Canadas team!

Smith: We've chatted on pre-game shows in the past about your love of theatre - especially Broadway. In fact, you've seen Rent 10+ times, but that show's run is coming to an end in New York . Where did you love of the arts come from and is there a new (or old) show that will fill your "Rent" void?

Triano: Its funny how you stumble upon things. I was doing what you do now (basically nothing) as a broadcaster for the Vancouver Grizzlies. We had a night off in New York and I was walking the street and some guy handed me a ticket and said "We were supposed to meet our son here and take him to the show 'RENT', but he cant make it." I thought it was a scam, but it turned out to be great. I was in awe of the talent, the story, and the professionalism. I couldnt wait to get back to NY and every time I got back there I went and tried to get in again. The second and third time I couldnt believe how much more I had missed, and walked away feeling the same excitement. I guess after the third time you become a RENT HEAD. I have tried other Broadway shows and will continue to do so but that was my first and my favourite. Plus, unlike you, I have a real job and now I am preparing for games and have much less time for shows!

Smith: Can fans expect to see a different Raptors team this year - a different approach or philosophy on both ends of the floor - given the acquisition of Jermaine O'Neal?

Triano: Let's take nothing away from Rasho. Rasho was very sound defensively and was always in the right spot, but with Jermaine we will have more of a presence inside. Heres a guy who can block shots and more importantly change shots. He can get out and defend on the screen-roll action, and the one thing that we did not do as well last year was finish off the defensive effort with the rebound. Jermaine can do that. I also think that Chris Bosh saw what defense can do while playing this summer. His attitude at the defensive end of the floor was outstanding. He was a leader amongst the best in the world. He can do that with us as well. Defense wins championships! If we want to be as good as everyone thinks we can be, it has to be at the defensive end of the floor.

Smith: What band or song on your iPod would people be surprised to hear?

Triano: Dont know if it would be a surprise or not but anything by Sarah McLachlan. First, she and her husband are friends of mine from back in the day when they were Vancouver Grizzlies fans. Secondly, when I do put on music ... it is to relax and just kick back so I love her voice and her music.

Smith: For folks that don't know, can you explain your pre-game routine (taking one-handed 3-pointers, etc.) and why it became a bit of ritual for you?

Triano: I dont really know. I just started doing it. I guess after throwing so many passes to guys warming up I just have a good feel for the ball. I can hold three and make all three and I like to do that before each game. If it happens fast I will try to hold four and make four. Ive held 5 and made 5 one time. I want to do 6 and possible 7. It's just hard holding them! I also started making shots from half court last year, but I cant shoot if there are players on the court and we have to be in the locker room at 40 minutes on the clock. T.J. (Ford) used to stay out there till the end, but now that he's been traded I may get more opportunities.

Smith: With O'Neal in Toronto ... Elton Brand in Philly ... LeBron ... the Big 3 in Boston ... and so on ... is the East still the "weaker" Conference?

Triano: I dont think so. The East is very tough now and I think we are starting to see a swing. I love it when all the good players sign with Western Conference teams because then we only have to find a way to stop them twice a year. The East is definitely better, but can you imagine being a point guard in the West and having four games in five nights and your match up is C. Paul, D. Williams, S. Nash and T. Parker? Good luck.

Smith: If we take Steve Nash out of the equation, who is/was the greatest Canadian basketball player ever? Why?

Triano: Tough call! There are too many to name. Guys who played for years for absolutely nothing except for the love of the game. Three practices a day, horrible conditions and all just so that they could represent their country. It would not be fair to even start to name names. I would leave someone out who should not be left out. Let's remember that if you take out the 2000 Olympics, Canada last qualified in 76, 80, 84 and 88. We are starting to see how hard it is to get to the Olympics now. So maybe I'd say Jack Donohue ... who never played for Canada ... but coached lots of greats during that time and got us to four consecutive Olympic Games.

Smith: What was the last video game you EXCELLED at?

Triano: Really dont have time anymore and I think the last time I played a game for any period of time it was something like Sega golf? It's crazy, but a bunch of my ex-players at Simon Fraser are now in charge of building the games at EA Sports in Burnaby . I get the games and give them to my son who loves the Madden and NBA Live games.

Smith: If you could go back and re-play that first-round series against Orlando, is there anything you'd do differently?

Triano: Wow! I think maybe not panic as much as we did after the first game. I thought our strategy was good and they just made shots, but we changed what we did! On the other hand, had we not made changes after that first game and they beat us again we would have looked like fools. Our strength in the series was our point guards and they were out-played. We learn and get better.

So ... that's that folks. I hope you enjoyed "10 Questions" with Jay Triano. I'm hoping to have similar columns/blogs to this one with other coaches and players throughout the 2008-09 season.

I'm off. Viva La France ... or something like that!