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  Wed, November 5, 2003


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Life no easier for Moiso now that he's a Raptor

By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

It might be a communication gap. It might be a cultural gap. It might be a difference of opinion. It might be a lack of hard work. Or it might be that promises have been broken.

The bottom line is Jerome Moiso is not playing, so something has been lost in the translation between the soft-spoken forward and Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill.

"I keep running into adversity wherever I go and whatever I do," Moiso said yesterday. "I can't tell you why. I don't even want to go into details. Let's forget the negative right now.

"It seems they don't see me work hard all the time. I thought I had made progress that way. But there are very demanding coaches here. I don't think it's a question of skill, so I need to pick it up some notches."

Moiso acknowledged he has spent his entire basketball life fighting the perception he isn't giving it his all, even when he claims he is. Having been born in France and raised in the West Indies, Moiso has battled the stereotype that all players from outside the United States are pacifists.

"I've always had that thing about me looking easy on the floor and everybody is looking at me like I'm not doing anything," said the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Moiso, a member of the French national team.

"I won't speak about everybody from Europe or the West Indies. There are lots of players who have come here from other places and noticed (additudinal differences), but they have succeeded. You grow up a certain way and you have to break that mould. I'm the one who is out there on the floor, so to me, it's my problem."

When the Raptors signed Moiso, 25, to a two-year contract worth about $2 million US last summer, there were fairly lofty expectations on both sides.

The Raptors hoped Moiso was as good as people thought he was when he was drafted 11th overall by the Boston Celtics in 2000. Moiso hoped, or was told, that he would have a chance to play in Toronto following three frustrating years of spot duty with the Celtics and the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets.

But after starting in all seven of the Raptors' pre-season games, Moiso was demoted. Through three regular-season games, he has amassed only 11 minutes of garbage time.

O'Neill is thinking about adding an extra big man to his rotation, but there is no guarantee he'll do it, and if he does do it there is no guarantee Moiso will benefit. Asked yesterday what Moiso has to do to regain the confidence of the coaching staff, O'Neill momentarily was at a loss for words.

"That's a pretty hard question, actually," O'Neill said. "What (Moiso) has to do is, when he does get a chance to play, because everybody eventually gets a chance at some point, is play his minutes hard and be productive. A lot of that comes from coming to practice every day and working hard at a high level and getting better. So that's basically it.

"Starting pre-season games means nothing, so that wasn't an indicator of anything. He has good skill, he's a good shooter for his size, he's a good passer, good athletic ability. It's a matter of playing at a high level with intensity."

That last word -- intensity -- is the sticking point.

"You show confidence in players by how much you play them," O'Neill said.

Despite the Raptors' 2-1 record, already players such as Moiso, Alvin Williams and Morris Peterson are questioning themselves, for various reasons. It's fine to set high standards, but the intense O'Neill should keep an eye on the self-esteem of those sad souls who are struggling or sitting, since the team may need them down the road.

It's too early for anyone to be in despair.

Then again, court time must be earned.

"I can't let this get me down," Moiso said. "That has been a big problem for me in the past. All I can do is my best, but sometimes that's not enough.

"I've been sitting on the bench thinking, 'Whoa.' It's early, so I don't think I made a mistake coming here. I just have to fight it.

"I'm still in the league and people know I can play, but it seems there's always something I'm doing wrong."









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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