When I think about my feelings towards Toronto Raptors’ head coach Jay Triano, it’s a little strange to think my opinions have changed without actually seeing his team on the court.
The man went 25-40 as “interim” head coach last season, with little evidence to suggest improvement was on the way. I, and many others, thought he was toast. It was a little surprising when Bryan Colangelo seemingly took the easy way out and hired Triano, especially because Toronto’s GM has never had much patience for failure.
In any case, Colangelo saw something – Triano’s relationship with the players, a late-season improvement…something – That led to Jay’s rehiring, and not everyone liked it. Again, it seemed like the safe move, that would keep the Raps mired in mediocrity for the next few years and beyond. After Sam Mitchell led the team to an 8-9 start, why hire back the guy who went 25-40?
But somewhere along the way, my feelings changed. At least until I see evidence to the contrary, I’m more confident in Triano’s ability to coach, and his basketball IQ, than I was before. I don’t think I’m alone (though maybe I am), and I think the change in attitude is largely based on the excellent two-part interview with TSN’s Tim Chisolm.
The interview, given in two parts (part 1 here, part 2 here), touched on everything from Chris Bosh, Jermaine O’Neal, Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani’s development, last year’s struggles, offensive strategies, using Hedo Turkoglu, and Triano’s feelings heading into the current offseason. It’s surprisingly candid, and well worth the read.
More importantly, it showed, at least for now, that Triano really gets it. Implementing his ideas with a completely new team is an entirely different task, but I really liked what I read.
For example, on using Turk:
“If he rebounds the basketball then he brings it up like he did in Orlando, and Jose is excellent off of the ball so he’ll know where to space. The other thing that they did is they would run what they called ‘thumb-down, five-special’, which is just a zipper to bring him up to the top and then it’s a high screen-roll for him. Well, now we’ve got Jose on the side, they zipper him up and get him [Turkoglu] at the top, spread the floor, and he goes. The day that we made the deal I said to Micah [Nori, assistant coach, NBA scout] and our coaches “thumb-down, five special”, we’re adding that one, put that one in our playbook! And I like the way that we run it equally as well as the way Orlando did it. They’d just zipper him up, it’s a high screen with Dwight [Howard] and then Dwight rolls. Well, we’re gonna put CB in that and they lifted Rashard Lewis, so we’re gonna lift Andrea, we’ll put Jose in one corner and Belinelli in the other corner – who are they gonna help off of on the screen-roll? That’s why we’re just gonna roll CB down, with shooters all around him, and he’s going to have a chance to go right to the basket. It plays to his strength, it plays to Hedo’s strength as a playmaker, to Jose’s by catching the ball and making a play.
Jose’s probably going to have to get used to not having the ball in his hands as much, but I don’t think that that’s a problem.”
On paper, it sounds good, and it gives me confidence. What about you?
If you haven’t read the interview, I suggest checking it out.
And I’ll ask it again – Where do you stand on Jay Triano?