Raptors coach Sam Mitchell grudgingly has come to the conclusion that his team just doesn't have any natural defenders.
Yesterday morning, prior to the Raptors' game against the Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills, Mich., Mitchell basically admitted what everyone in Raptorland -- including former coach Kevin O'Neill, who was fired last spring -- has known for the past couple of seasons: This team isn't very tall or wide, it doesn't have many guys who rebound by instinct, and defence is a struggle, both mentally and physically.
With the Pistons on his mind, Mitchell said, "What has Ben Wallace been known for his entire career? Defensive rebounds.
"And a guy like Tayshaun Prince is built to be a defensive stopper. He's athletic, quick, he has long arms.
"Where's our Tayshaun Prince?"
THE TRUTH HURTS
Mitchell played two NBA seasons for Pistons coach Larry Brown in the mid-1990s, when the much-travelled Brown was coaching the Indiana Pacers.
"Only certain players can play for Larry," Mitchell said. "If you can't handle the truth, you can't play for him.
"Larry treats everybody the same, which is how it has to be. But Larry's thing was, the more money you make, the more responsibility you should take. You should be more professional. You should be more coachable. You're playing all the minutes. Don't yell at a guy playing five minutes a game.
"Larry's brutally honest, but he would do anything in the world for his players, and you know that. The reason you deal with the things he puts you through is he cares about you."
In recent games Raptors guard Vince Carter has been trying to drive to the basket a little more often. However, due to circumstance, or reputation, or both, Carter doesn't get rewarded with a trip to the foul line with any regularity.
"If they gave me a whistle, trust me, (Carter) would be at the free-throw line a lot more often," Mitchell said. "But I don't think they're going to let me continue coaching and referee, too. I get to referee in practice, not in games."