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Day 2: Raptors Pay Price For Wandering Minds



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Day 2: Raptors Pay The Price For Wandering Minds

Jay Satur - Raptors.com
September 29, 2010



Attention to detail and conditioning have been focal points early on at Raptors training camp and when the former slipped somewhat on Wednesday, the result was a whole lot more of the latter.

Media entered the adidas Practice Court at ACC on Day 2 and witnessed a Raptors squad sweating buckets as they were put through a series of grueling conditioning drills. According to Jay Triano, it was the team's reward for its collective concentration slipping somewhat earlier in the morning.

"It was a tough workout today," said Triano. "Something we need to do this preseason, this training camp, is set a standard for the work that we want to accomplish... Today, our attention span wasn't as good. Guys come back from being away all summer and the first day's exciting. Today, I think they're probably a little bit sore, our minds started to wander so we had to cut it short and do some conditioning."

The extra running wasn't strictly punitive though, as Triano and the coaching staff have placed more of an emphasis this season on how and how long his players run during practice.

"We've changed the length of our drills and the amount of time that we're in the gym," said Triano. "More time on actual running and the physical part of it in practice."

With much of the focus on ensuring that the players are equipped with the stamina to execute team strategy, it shouldn't be surprising to learn that lineups or rotations won't be a consideration until camp shifts to the University of British Columbia on the weekend.

"We put a bunch of plays in yesterday, but as far as the lineups and who's on the floor with each other, we're just going to let that evolve," said Triano. "We just have it mixed right now and I can't see us putting together any kind of starting five or anything until we get into Vancouver."

We've got more video from DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson plus Sherman Hamilton's one-on-one with Reggie Evans below, but first, a few more points from Wednesday's morning workout:

- Unrelated to camp, but a report in the Racine Journal-Times says that veteran free agent centre Erick Dampier will visit with Raptors team brass in Toronto (as well as the Bucks), to discuss the possibility of signing. The 35-year-old pivot could arguably become the team's best "true" five. Stay tuned.

- The first player that caught my eye closest to the gym entrance on Wednesday was Jose Calderon, who was going at full speed and showed little difficulty moving laterally or making hard cuts following his recovery from a minor hamstring tear that kept him out of this summer's World Championship. His coach likes what he's seen so far. "Jose looks fine," said Triano. "He hasn't shown any signs of wear because of the injury and he looks like he's in very good shape and as always, he's working very hard."

- For a second straight day, Triano mentioned Linas Kleiza's versatility and his ability to create mismatches at either forward spot based on his skill set. Something to keep an eye on as the Raptors continue to work on their offensive sets in the coming days.

- After temporarily settling on the number 28, Leandro Barbosa has officially switched to 20. That doubles up on the number 10 he wore during his tenure in Phoenix and currently worn in Toronto by DeMar DeRozan.

- Speaking of DeRozan, one thing many have noticed is not only his growth as a player, but as a personality on this team. According to the second-year swingman, it's come naturally with a season of the rigours of the NBA under his belt. "I think last year, my first year in the league, really helped me out. It really helped me mature a lot. Understanding what I have to do if I want to be successful in this game of basketball."

- Also showing signs of emerging as more of a leader was Amir Johnson, who stood out as a very vocal presence at the end of Wednesday's practice. It may not have been something he was as inclined to do last season, but he says he's determined to keep the communication active on the court. "Once you talk on the floor, it really helps you make the defence easier or the offence easier, so we've got to get into being vocal and everyone on the floor has to talk," said Johnson.

- The biggest lesson learned from year one for DeRozan? Beware the rookie wall. "The amount of games. It got to a point in the season where they said I hit the rookie wall, plying about 30-40 games and still having 40 more to go. That was a big obstacle for me to try and get used to. That was a learning experience for me so I know how to better prepare myself."

- When camp moves to Vancouver, it's not just going to be a shift in philosophy, but a shift in how the team practices as it goes from two-a-days at ACC to one longer session on the campus of UBC. "It'll be fun to go with just one practice a day and really concentrate and see if we can go three-and-a-half hours at practice and see where we are mentally after something like that," said Triano.

- Alvin Williams is redefining business casual with his new position with the Raptors front office. Wearing his warmups with a huge briefcase in tow, Williams had to dash from practice to the team's offices upstairs for a meeting. "We're trying to get him one of those clip-on ties, so he can do it up a lot quicker and snap it on as he goes," Triano said.