Full-court press irks Mitchell

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell returned home with his team yesterday, tired, a little frustrated, but also wiser and somewhat more jaded.

Two things in particular stick in the coach's mind after his squad went 1-5 on a gruelling western swing. Much like last season, the Raptors have a tendency to play hard and well in spurts, but often give away games after brief lapses.

Of the six games on the swing, the Raptors were in four of them, but managed only a victory once, to fall to 4-5 overall.

"I've learned the NBA has to keep people off 12-game road trips," a weary Mitchell said. "It's tough. But that's just how it is. Nobody's going to feel sorry for us."

The other lesson learned for the first-year NBA head coach, and something he has really had a difficult time adjusting to, is the overwhelming media presence in Toronto.

During his stay as an assistant in Milwaukee, the Bucks generally had one beat writer who followed that team around on trips, and perhaps one or two radio and TV outlets at home.

At home games in Toronto, Mitchell is besieged by reporters from each of the four local newspapers as well as numerous TV and radio outlets. Even on the road, there are always at least two newspaper writers, a crew from Raptors TV, the FAN radio and whatever TV station is broadcasting that game.

Thus far this season, the usually personable Mitchell has found himself frustrated at the attention he has received, and has resorted, at times, to flippant, sometimes sarcastic responses.

And on this past trip, he became agitated when a one-on-one conversation he had with second-year forward Chris Bosh about free throwing somehow made it into a newspaper column.

"What I'm learning about you guys (the media) is I have to think clearly about every single thing I say," said the coach, who claims not to read newspaper articles about his team. "Until someone calls me and tells me what's being written, I really don't know (what's written). But people call me and tell me (what's been written) and it's funny, because this stuff never happened."

As for turning around the team's skid, Mitchell believes the Raptors need to come home, rest and win a couple of games at the Air Canada Centre in order to turn the situation around. But that's a tall order, because they have another tough five-game trip starting Dec. 1.

In the first two months of the season, the Raptors play 19 games on the road, about half of those in the West, with only 12 at the ACC.

The Raps play host to Seattle tonight and San Antonio on Sunday before heading to Washington next Tuesday.


Videos

Photos