Who will come alive at 5?

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

The Raptors training camp is being held in wine, not cattle, country, but coach Sam Mitchell and general manager Rob Babcock are waiting for someone to take the bull by the horns.

After three days of slogging through long, intense practices, the biggest question mark concerning this enigmatic team remains unanswered. And that is, who will be the starting centre when the season opens on Nov. 3?

For that matter, will one of three big guys -- rookie Rafael Araujo, Jerome Moiso or Loren Woods -- show enough at camp to allow sophomore frontcourt star Chris Bosh to play at his regular position, power forward, this season?

The last thing Mitchell wants is to have to put the tall but lanky Bosh back at centre. Last season, the 6-foot-10, 230-pound former Georgia Tech standout was forced to play mostly at centre because the Raptors did not have anyone else capable of playing there on a regular basis.

While Bosh played well, he took a beating. By the end of the season, the 19-year-old was completely spent.

"You would hate to have to run Chris at the centre position where he's giving up 20 to 50 pounds every night," Babcock said. "I just think (forward) is a better match for him."

The Raptors drafted Araujo who, at 6-foot-11, 290 pounds, is a monster. However, the Brazilian rookie will take some time to learn the NBA game and will never be a scoring machine.

Babcock signed journeyman centre Loren Woods, who is 7-foot-2, in the off-season. And then there is Moiso. He's tall and athletic but often seemed lost under coach Kevin O'Neill last season. Babcock is hoping for a strong, centre-by-committee situation this season, where all three bring something constructive to the mix.

"They're working their tails off," Babcock said of the teetering triumvirate. "Each practice they're getting a little bit better. But one of those guys has to instill enough confidence in Sam that he feels he can start that guy."

Mitchell said they're progressing.

"Our goal is to have two of them ready to play each night to give us chance," he said.

Working their tails off ... Progressing ... Reading between the lines, there's a sense at camp, held here at Brock University in St. Catharines, that none of the three has been particularly outstanding.

Mitchell has expressed some mild disappointment in Araujo's habit of trying to do too much.

While both Bosh and Donyell Marshall can play centre, Babcock would prefer a true big man at that position.

"Where it improves you -- especially -- is in the defensive end and on the boards," he said. "And it allows you to play a bigger team."

All-star forward Vince Carter is confident that all three can step up and do the job, adding he believes Moiso could be the dark horse.

"Sometimes you look at him in practice, he can jump, he can run," Carter said. "I remember him from New Orleans (the Hornets, 2002-03) -- he was a high-flying, dunking machine. We would like to see him get back to that."


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