Coach gets a little testy

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

Sam Mitchell is thoughtful, insightful and funny.

But the Raptors head coach admitted, following a mild tirade yesterday, that the length of the pre-season, and the constant questioning by the Toronto media, has him fit to be tied.

"All these things you're asking me are hypothetical," Mitchell growled during a post-practice media scrum. " We'll start learning more about this team (tonight) when we start playing games that count. You're asking me questions I can't answer."

When the Raps named the former NBA standout as the team's sixth head coach on June, Mitchell seemed relaxed and comfortable with the media. Over the ensuing weeks, however, he as become less patient and at times frustrated.

For instance, Mitchell was not thrilled to be asked yesterday what it would take to win Toronto fans back to the Raptors.

"I'm not going to put on a clown suit and go out and perform at half time," he snapped. "That's not my job and that's not the players' job. Their job is to go out and play hard and play together and try to win games. If we do that, I have a good feeling the fans are going to come back."

He also refused to divulge the starting lineup for tonight's regular season opener against the visiting Houston Rockets, although many NBA coaches refuse to play their hand the day before a game.

"If you're smart, you can figure out," Mitchell told the media horde. "I'm going to let you do something for yourself. I'll let you figure that out. If you can't figure that one out, then you're trouble."

The starting lineup for the Raps should be: Rafer Alston at point guard, Vince Carter at shooting guard, Jalen Rose at small forward, Chris Bosh at power forward and Loren Woods at centre.

There is a chance that the Rockets' 7-foot-6 centre Yao Ming will not be in the lineup as he has a sore elbow but he played last night against the Detroit Pistons. Former Raptor Tracy McGrady, a huge pickup for the Rockets, will definitely dress for Houston.


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