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  Sat, October 18, 2003


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Courting big expectations
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun


It's one thing to go where everybody knows your name. It's another thing to go where everybody knows your game. Raptors swingman Morris Peterson understands what it's like to win an NCAA title and then head directly to the NBA. Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets is making a similar transition this season.

"A lot of NBA players watch the NCAA tournament on TV, so in some ways it's like there's a target on your back," said Peterson, whose Raptors beat Anthony's Nuggets 86-81 in an NBA pre-season game last night at the Air Canada Centre.

"You sure can't sneak up on anyone. It's like the whole league has an early scouting report."

Truth be told, Peterson had a much better chance of slipping under the radar than Anthony does. Peterson was drafted 21st overall by the Raptors in 2000 after having been one of the key players in Michigan State's NCAA title run. Anthony was drafted third overall by the Nuggets this year after being the unquestioned key to Syracuse's rise to the pinnacle of college hoops.

But regardless of how high they were drafted or the specific expectations placed upon them, Peterson knows first-hand that the hoops world looks at you differently after you've won a championship, for better or for worse.

"You always are going to be known for what you did," said the 26-year-old Peterson, who is entering his fourth season with the Raptors.

"Depending on how you handle it, that can be a good thing. You live with your memories, but in a way you have to block it out.

"My teammates never kidded me about it. Maybe they gave me a little more respect. If you think about it, of all the guys who play college basketball, only 12 win a title every year. It's special and you're known as a winner. But at the same time, when you get to the NBA you have to realize college is over."

College may be over for the 19-year-old Anthony, but it's going to be difficult for him to acknowledge that this weekend. The Nuggets' next pre-season game will take place tomorrow against the Detroit Pistons in Syracuse, where Anthony is guaranteed to get a hero's reception.

"I'm trying not to get too excited," said Anthony, anticipating a crowd of 25,000-plus at the Carrierdome.

Anthony never has been shy about stating his belief that he should have been the No. 1 pick in the draft, rather than LeBron James, who was nabbed by the Cleveland Cavaliers. And failing that, Anthony certainly believes he should have been picked second by the Pistons instead of unproven European big man Darko Milicic, so Anthony will have to guard against trying to do too much tomorrow.

Last night Anthony seemed to do just the right amount in his 33 minutes of court time, racking up 19 points (6-for-9 shooting from the field, 7-for-8 from the foul line) and four rebounds.

Asked what it was like to be matched up against the Raptors' Vince Carter for a while last night, Anthony said, "It felt crazy at first, but then I got it out of my system."

A lot of what Anthony experiences this season will feel crazy at first, and Peterson empathizes. Anthony and Peterson may never be teammates, but they are members of an exclusive club, as college champions who have gone on to NBA careers.

"I didn't like Michigan State, so when they won, I was kind of like, 'Whatever,' " Anthony said. "But when we won, it was the greatest feeling of my life."

If Peterson could give Anthony one piece of advice, what would it be?

"Don't look back," Peterson said without hesitation.

"Remember what you did, but have the mind-set that it's not the only title you're going to win."









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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