School's in for Raps

With such a youthful roster, Raptors coach Sam Mitchell has a lot of teaching to do this training...

With such a youthful roster, Raptors coach Sam Mitchell has a lot of teaching to do this training camp. (Toronto Sun File/Fred Thornhill)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

The Raptors may be embarking on a youth movement, but coach Sam Mitchell isn't about to send the geezers to the end of the bench.

In a pre-training camp news conference yesterday, the second-year coach emphasized that veterans such as Morris Peterson and Jalen Rose will play key roles on a young Raptors outfit.

"Jalen Rose has earned the right to play, Morris Peterson has earned the right to play," said Mitchell, whose team reports to training camp Tuesday at Brock University in St. Catharines.

"(If someone says Rose is not young), I think Jalen will argue with you. Jalen considers himself a young guy and I hope he plays young like he did last year. With the new energy these guys bring, I think it's going energize Jalen. I think our guys are going to be motivated to prove people wrong."

With seven players on the roster at age 25 or under, Mitchell will look to his experienced guys -- including third-year standout Chris Bosh -- to assume leadership positions.

"I'm going to try to empower my guys to help teach, to help motivate, to help encourage, to help these guys when they have a bad stretch to keep their confidence up," Mitchell said. "All this stuff is about confidence. Once you gain your confidence, you kind of take off from there. The hardest thing is getting that confidence and having success. I'm going to rely heavily on Jalen, Chris and Mo."

While Mitchell has thought about potential rotations and starting lineups, he wants to go into training camp with an open mind.

"What I'm trying not to do is already have a plan in place and then all of a sudden we get to practice and it's like, 'Whoa that doesn't fit. Now, I've got to start re-thinking things,' " he said. "These guys are going to decide how I use them, depending on what they can do."

Mitchell has decided to hold one longer practice -- about 3 1/2 hours -- daily at training camp this year instead of the two-a-days he used last year. NBA rules stipulate if a team opts for two-a-days, only one practice can feature contact drills.

"I think I will take the first hour (of each practice) to teach," Mitchell said.

"Do a lot of non-contact stuff, a lot of teaching and we're going to try to simplify a lot of things we do because we are young."


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