The Toronto Raptors are now 2-1 in pre-season play, with 4 pre-season games left in preparation for the regular season (which tips off on October 31st): vs. Wizards, vs. Knicks (in Montreal), vs. Bucks, and at Grizzlies. Kyle Lowry has yet to appear in pre-season play as he and the team continue to be cautious with his leg injury (strained adductor muscle -- groin -- in his left leg). Based on the initial report he was only to miss the first 3 pre-season games, so it appears that he could suit up to face the Wizards on Wednesday night at the ACC.
Coach Dwane Casey has been putting the team through their paces all the way through Training Camp and so far in the pre-season. Up to and including the last game (the win vs. the Pistons on Friday night in their ACC), the team hadn't had a day off since Training Camp & pre-season play began. Jonas Valanciunas got his first NBA start in that game and certainly didn't disappoint. He was extremely active on the floor in his 29 minutes of play, putting up 11 points (including 3-3 from the free throw line - and a NICE free throw stroke I might add!) and 8 rebounds. There will undoubtedly be 'peaks & valleys' and adjustment periods for Jonas this season, but there are many attributes in his game that will make things easier for his teammates simply from his hustle and activity on both ends of the floor. If you haven't seen him play yet, don't miss your next opportunity - whether on TV or in person.
Also this past week, an incredible teaser for the new show 'Open Gym' was released. The show will be an all access look at the Raptors for the 2012-13 season. Episode one premieres Oct. 30th on NBA TV Canada and follows the team at their Training Camp in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Major shouts to Jeff Landicho, NBA TV Canada, and the Toronto Raptors! Having been a small part of the media coverage the Raptors received during 2012 Training Camp I'm very anxious to see a lot of the footage & behind the scenes access that we didn't witness, and also what we did - but through a professional lense. I can't wait to see it, the production looks outstanding - as all of NBA TV Canada's specials/documentaries do!
In the past, we've done occassional posts called 'Raptors Links You May Have Missed', we're going to continue to provide various links from across Raptors Nation, but we're going with a new name for this season and we're calling them 'Raptors Shots'. Here's our first installment:
Akil Augustine of NBA TV Canada reported tonight that Jonas Valanciunas went through his first full contact practice today and may play on Wednesday vs. the Detroit Pistons. Kyle Lowry will be sidelined for at least 2 more pre-season games due to a leg strain that the Raptors are being cautious with.
Since Training Camp closed the Raptors have now been in on-court action twice. They held an intra-squad game on Saturday at the Halifax Metro Centre in front of approximately 7000 fans to officially end their time in Halifax.
Then on Thanksgiving Monday, the Raptors had their first game at the ACC in the 2012 pre-season vs. Real Madrid. The Raptors started the game slow, but eventually pulled away for a 102-96 victory. DeMar DeRozan, Jose Calderon, Terrence Ross, John Lucas III, Ed Davis, and Amir Johnson all had solid performances for the Raptors. They all seemed to be reaping the rewards of their hard off-season work and putting Coach Casey's teachings from last season & training camp into effect.
The Wednesday night game vs. the Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills, MI will mark the Raptors' first official game against another NBA team as the 2012 pre-season continues. They will play the Pistons again on the other end of a 'home & home' in Toronto on Friday. There will be a lot of matchups for the Raptors to prepare for due to the likes of Pistons Greg Monroe, Jonas Jerebko, Jason Maxiell, rookie Andre Drummond, and Brandon Knight. The Pistons are chockful with young talent and, like the Raptors, are trying to make their mark this season as well.
As promised, here are our final 5 interviews from Toronto Raptors 2012 Training Camp in Halifax, Nova Scotia that we conducted on the last day of camp, Friday Oct. 5th. We spoke with Jerel McNeal, Chris Wright, John Lucas III, Linas Kleiza, and Dominic McGuire. We hope you enjoy!
John Lucas III:
Day 4, the final day, of practices during the Toronto Raptors 2012 Training Camp in Halifax, Nova Scotia have come to a close. More than one player told us that this was the most intense and difficult training camp they had been through in their NBA careers! Raptors Head coach Dwane Casey is certainly putting them through their paces in preparation of the 2012-13 NBA season.
Today, Saturday October 6th, at noon is the Toronto Raptors Intra-Squad game at the Halifax Metro Centre which is open to the public. We are anxious to see the team out on the floor, who will be matched up with who, and how each player performs. Coach Casey said that he expects to switch up the teams at half time of the intra-squad game and that he is more concerned with execution and performances, not so much which squad wins or loses.
Coach Casey spoke with the media after the morning practice on Day 4 of Training Camp.
Also on Day 4 of practice, we we spoke with Jerel McNeal, Chris Wright, John Lucas III, Linas Kleiza, and Dominic McGuire. We discussed the rigors of training camp, their thoughts on this year's squad, their thoughts about the city of Halifax, and we had some fun talking about Quincy Acy's birthday (which is today, Saturday October 6th!) and Canadian Thanksgiving. We'll have those Day 4 videos up throughout the weekend so stay tuned!
On Thursday, Day 3, Romy Aquino & U-E Sampang spoke with Aaron Gray, Amir Johnson, and Jonas Valanciunas after the lone practice in the morning practice, before the Raptors went out to enjoy the sights and history of Halifax. Check them out below.
Romy Aquino & U-E Sampang speak with Aaron Gray after Day 3 of Training Camp:
Day 3 of Toronto Raptors 2012 Training Camp in Halifax ended with a long morning practice on Thursday. Head coach Dwane Casey wanted to ensure that he got as much work in with the team as possible with only having the one practice. Without an evening practice, the players got out to do some Halifax sight seeing, learning about the history of the city, and to enjoy some Maritime cuisine in the evening. We'll be asking players about their time away from the court when we catch up with players later today on Day 4, the final day of Training Camp practices.
Here are thoughts from Coach Casey & DeMar DeRozan after Day 3:
Coach Casey speaks with the media after Day 3 of Training Camp
DeMar DeRozan speaks with the media after Day 3 of Training Camp
During Day 2 of Training Camp we spoke with several players including DeMar DeRozan, Jamaal Magloire, and Jose Calderon. Here are the brief Q&A's we conducted with each of them:
Romy Aquino & Sean François speak with DeMar DeRozan:
Day 2 of Toronto Raptors 2012 Training Camp is in the books, and camp is getting more and more intense as players battle for roster positions. After the evening practice on Day 2 you could sense that the players were increasingly focused and wanted to prove to Coach Casey and the rest of the Raptors coaching staff that they deserve one of the 15 coveted roster spots.
As we mentioned prevoiusly, we spoke with Terrence Ross after Day 1 of Toronto Raptors 2012 Training Camp. We discussed being an NBA rookie, his time in training camp thus far, his thoughts about Halifax, and for some levity - his preference of basketball shoes:
On Day 2 of training camp we also spoke 1-on-1 with DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, Jose Calderon, and Jamaal Magloire.
Here's our chat with Ed Davis, asking about his preparation in the off-season, his thoughts on this year's Raptors squad and the stiffened competition in the Atlantic Division & Eastern conference, and one of my favourite things to ask players this week - what they like to wear for kicks on court :)
Day 1 of Toronto Raptors 2012 Training Camp is officially in the books. Coach Dwane Casey and the coaching staff were putting the players through their paces in the day's 2 practices. With the partial access we had to the practices in session there were shooting drills, free throws, wind sprints, and working on set plays from inbound passes (baseline & sideline). The players were practicing with effort and high energy, being vocal throughout. This team seems to be bonding and enjoying the preparation of the season together. That can only bode well for the long grind & rigors of the NBA season.
All 18 members of this Toronto Raptors 2012 Training Camp are focused on what Coach Casey wants from them individually and what they are trying to achieve as a team in this upcoming 2012-2013 NBA season. The Eastern Conference, and more specifically the Atlantic Division, is more competitive than it has been in recent memory but in listening to several players today, Raptors General Manager Bryan Colangelo, and Head Coach Dwane Casey, they are clearly up for the challenge.
We had the opportunity to chat 'one on one' with 3 of the newest Toronto Raptors after the second practice of the day; Rookies Quincy Acy & Terrence Ross, and the likely starting small forward for the Raptors this season, Landry Fields. We got their thoughts after Day 1, their expectations for the team, themselves, and a few fun questions thrown in as well. Due to some file uploading issues, we will have the Terrence Ross interview/chat available for viewing later today.
Speaking with Quincy Acy after Day 1 of Toronto Raptors 2012 Training Camp:
Speaking with Landry Fields after Day 1 of Toronto Raptors 2012 Training Camp:
Toronto Raptors 2012 Training Camp opened this morning at the Canada Games Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. There are 18 players in camp vying for minutes, positions, and trying to show the coaches that they deserve to make the opening night roster.
We had the wonderful opportunity of attending today's practice, and we will continue to bring coverage throughout the week. Later this evening, after the 2nd practice, we will provide a full recap, quotes, and some video interviews from today's events. Be sure to check out HipHoopJunkies.com for more Training Camp coverage as well.
One thing I will mention now is that Jonas Valanciunas did not participate in this morning's practice, but he is certainly itching to get out on the court; just not before the team concludes that he is ready. Perhaps that will be this week, or perhaps it will be at a future date. Unfortunately, we all just have to wait until he's healthy and he's recovered from his left calf injury.
Until then, enjoy some screen captures/photos from footage we took today during interviews and the end of the morning practice.
(Photo credit: Toronto Raptors)
The Toronto Raptors are now in Halifax, Nova Scotia for a week long training camp which starts Tuesday morning, October 2nd.
Today was Media Day for the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre, and it was a whirlwind for the players; being interviewed by the various national & local media outlets, getting pictures taken for the NBA & Raptors websites, and some TV promo shoots as well. And then, they had to wrap things up in order to hop on a plane to the East Coast for the official preparations of the 2012-13 NBA season.
Things certainly won't be any less hectic here in Halifax, as the Raptors have practices & team meetings daily (Tuesday - Friday), and then things cap off on Saturday October 6th @ noon with an intra-squad game at the Halifax Metro Centre that will be open to the public. It's the only training camp event that will be open to the public. (click here if you will be in Halifax and still need or want a ticket to the intra-squad game.)
Stay tuned here at Hoop Heads North and also our blogging brethren @ Hip Hoop Junkies each afternoon & evening for updates from Toronto Raptors Training Camp all week long. We plan to have recaps of what we observed, player & coach quotes, video from media availability, and hopefully a few 'one on one' interviews that we can coordinate during the madness of it all! We're honoured to have this opportunity!
Be sure to follow/search the hashtag #RaptorsCamp on Twitter for the latest from various media outlets covering the Toronto Raptors Training Camp all week long.
We're excited, we hope Raptors Nation is as well!
Hoop Heads North & Hip Hoop Junkies visited the NBA 3X Tour in Halifax, Nova Scotia and we spoke with Miami Heat center, Joel Anthony to get his thoughts on the NBA Championship experience and the bright future of Canada Basketball.
Hoops Talk with Miami Heat centre, Joel Anthony - NBA 3X - Halifax, NS (Sept. 8, 2012)
Hip Hoop Junkies & Hoop Heads North's NBA 3X Recap - Halifax, NS (Sept. 8, 2012)*
*Don't mind my incorrect comment about Andrew Nicholson's draft position in the 2012 NBA Draft at the 2:33 mark in the recap video. He went 19th overall to the Orlando Magic, not 12th as I stated. Sometimes trying to remember things on the fly aren't always 100% accurate :)
Thanks again to NBA Canada's Jonathan Chang for bringing these events back to Halifax and for assistance in getting everything we needed for the interview & recap!
We're ramping up again for the 2012-2013 season...no lockout this year! A full training camp, pre-season, and then a full 82 games ahead of us! To help get you caught up on some Raptors related news, interviews, & opinion pieces you may have missed since the draft or Summer League, here are some we wanted to bring your attention to.
--Report: Dominic McGuire signs with Toronto (via ProBasketballTalk.com & Yahoo! Sports)
--Jose Calderon speaks about his experience in Zambia (courtesy of UNICEF) (VIDEO) (via Raptors.com)
--DeMar DeRozan DOMINATING The Summer Competition! SICK Summer Mixtape! (VIDEO) (via BallIsLife.com)
--Toronto Raptors won’t be affected by Tom Anselmi’s appointment as MLSE president (via Doug Smith - Toronto Star)
--RaptorsHQ Talks Terrence Ross with U of W Men's Basketball Coach, Lorenzo Romar (via Adam Francis - RaptorsHQ.com)
--LOOKING AT RAPTORS' CHANGES (via Tim Chisholm - TSN.ca) - 3 parts:
1) In the paint
--Looking For Value At the Air Canada Centre (via Joseph Casciaro - RaptorBlog.com)
--Five Things The Raptors Are Missing To Be Considered A Contender (via DinoNationBlog.com)