No wake-ups says Mitchell

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell scored some major points at practice yesterday without even touching the ball.

Mitchell announced that there will no longer be morning shootarounds on game days, at least for the pre-season.

And if the experiment proves to be fruitful, the first year NBA head coach will extend that to the regular season.

Shootarounds are common practice for NBA teams. Players and coaches convene at the arena on the morning of the game, usually about 10 a.m., to warm up and prepare for that evening's opposition.

Mitchell, however, believes that he can prepare his players properly without dragging them out of bed in the morning, particularly on the road or after travelling all night.

"There were a lot of times when I played when guys were up at nine in the morning and they were groggy and they're not paying real attention," he said. "All they're trying to do is just get through that hour. So what we're thinking is, getting them (at the arena) at 4:30 when they're up and ready to go. And hopefully they'll be more intense."

That decision was a hit with the players. Vince Carter, for one, was very enthusiastic about Mitchell's announcement. And the Raptors hope that a happy Vince Carter will not push his trade demands any longer.

"I'm all for it," Carter said. "People who haven't played and haven't been around, might not understand (the decision). But he was a player. He knows guys go through aches and pains, he knows how tough it is. Some people can write about it, some people can actually go and do it."

Mitchell played 13 seasons in the NBA and retired only two seasons ago, and Carter believes that it is an advantage having a coach who understands the players' mentality.

"All coaches say they understand," he said, "but there's no better understanding than actually having been there. He has been there for years and years and he knows, and it helps."

As for concerns that players might take advantage of not having to get up in the morning by partying all night, well, Mitchell isn't concerned about that.

"If they're going to stay out, they're going to stay out anyway," the coach said. "I can't police what time a guy goes to bed, that's not my job. These guys have to take some responsibility for themselves, and what I found in the past is, at least if they do go out, they'll get more sleep.

BACK TO BED

"What most of them try to do after shootaround anyway is race home and get back to bed," Mitchell added. "My hope and my feeling is, after we do this for a while, we'll start having guys come (to the arena) at 4 o'clock or 3:30 because they're going to be anxious to get going."

Veteran guard Jalen Rose also thinks abolishing the shootaround is a good move.

"Everybody goes out," he said, "but you don't make it in the league for 11 years without knowing when to be home. I know when to be home."


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