Hoffa stays a starter

DEAN MCNULTY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Raptors rookie Rafael Araujo had a tough night against the Washington Wizards on Friday, but Raptors coach Sam Mitchell won't bury Hoffa on the bench. On Friday, Araujo was the starting centre, but scored no points, grabbed only one rebound and found himself on the court for just eight minutes.

Mitchell said yesterday not to expect him to punish the young Brazilian as a result of what happened on Friday.

"(Araujo) is going to have bad games," Mitchell said. "Everybody has them. When you do have them it's how you react that is going to be important."

The coach said he has no plans to replace Araujo in the starting lineup for the Raptors' game today against the expansion Charlotte Bobcats.

"I told him not to worry about scoring," Mitchell said. "I told him to get back to the the things he does best, get back to rebounding and playing defence."

Part of the problem, Mitchell said, was that Araujo was having some scoring success and that he stopped concentrated on the other parts of his game.

THE OKAFOR FACTOR

He may be a rookie but Charlotte's Emeka Okafor has been a force to be reckoned with this season.

And Jalen Rose says he saw it coming when the youngster played with the NCAA champion Connecticut Huskies.

"I watched him in college and I knew he was going to be good in this league," Rose said.

Okafor leads the Bobcats in both points -- 15.4 per game -- and rebounds -- 11.3 per game.

"In this league when you can lead a team in rebounds and lead a team in points you have to be a pretty special player," Rose said.

"It says a lot about him being strong. It's hard to bring it every night. I give him a lot of credit."

COLLEGE COURSES

Mitchell refuses to see first-year forward Matt Bonner as a rookie.

"His four years in college makes him more than a rookie," Mitchell said.

"He doesn't act like a rookie and he doesn't play like a rookie."


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