Coach will let boys play

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell plans to set his charges free this season.

"We've got to just get these guys back to playing basketball, playing on instinct," the new head coach said yesterday. "(Legendary Celtics coach) Red Auerbach said when he coached, he gave the players structure, but he let them play basketball.

"I want guys to learn how to read what's going on the court and play. I don't want to have to call a play every time," he added. "We're going to have structure, but out of that structure I want you to play basketball."

Last season, head coach Kevin O'Neill called the majority of plays for his team on the attack, something Mitchell won't do. Unlike O'Neill, who stressed a strong, defence-first style, Mitchell wants his team to play more of a run-and-gun style this season and the key to pulling that off, he said, is for every player to be in the best shape of their life.

"I think we have the athleticism to do it, but we also have to have the commitment to run," he said. "Everybody says they want to play that way, but are they willing to pay the price? We're going to ask guys at training camp, unless they know another way to get in shape, they're going to have to run. There's no pill to get in shape, just running and pushing that ball every day."

RAPS ADD TWO

GM Rob Babcock rounded out his training camp roster yesterday with the signing of two journeymen players, forward Ousmane Cisse and guard Norm Richardson.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Richardson played overseas last season with Red Star Belgrade, leading them to the 2003-04 Serbia-Montenegro Cup.

Richardson spent the 2001-02 season in the NBA, with stints in Indiana and Chicago, averaging 2.7 points, 0.7 rebounds and 6.1 minutes in 11 games. He capped his college career as Hofstra's career-leader in three-pointers with 192 and ranked sixth on the school's scoring list with 1,677 points.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Cisse averaged 7.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.35 blocks in 20 games for the Brevard Blue Ducks of the United States Basketball League last season.

The native of Mali was a second-round draft pick of the Denver Nuggets in 2001as an early entry out of high school.

Mitchell acknowledged the centre position will be the biggest question mark for his team this year.


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