Charlie hustles

Charlie Villanueva. (SUN/Michael Peake)

Charlie Villanueva. (SUN/Michael Peake)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

ST. CATHARINES -- Sleep might be overrated for Charlie Villanueva.

After catching just two hours of shuteye, the Raptors first-round pick performed nicely in his debut in front of the team's fans yesterday.

Showing off a versatile skill set, the 6-foot-11 forward scored 20 points on 10-of-19 shooting, pulled down 11 rebounds and registered four assists in the Raptors' traditional open-to-the-public scrimmage before a packed house of 1,200 at Brock University.

"I was just anxious, just thinking about the game," Villanueva said. "It was kind of like my first pro game ... (He was) tossing and turning and just thinking. I'm glad I got it out of the way. Hopefully, next time I'll get more sleep."

With training camp shifting to the Air Canada Centre today, Villanueva has confidence he is headed in the right direction. At the same time, the New York native knows there are areas where he needs to improve. While he made a few lovely passes (one of the strengths of his game), Villanueva also committed a game-high seven turnovers. He also wore down as the game went along and committed five fouls, along with several that weren't called so he could stay in the game.

"I'm not even worried about points or rebounds," Villanueva said. "I'm looking at the turnovers. I think I had a lot of turnovers and that's something I'm trying to limit. I'm not worried about the good, I'm trying to correct the bad."

Ripped by several so-called experts for taking Villanueva seventh overall, the Raptors are doing what they can to bring out the best of the Connecticut product. Villanueva has been instructed to arrive an hour early for practices.

"(As) Rookies, you've got to pay your dues," Villanueva said. "(Put) extra shots up, be on the court and be ready to go when the veteran guys come in. I've got to do what I've got to do. (Sam Mitchell) is the coach and I've got to listen to him. He's only going to make me get better."

Perhaps all the criticism from outside put a bit of pressure on Villanueva to elevate his game in front of the fans.

"It was different," he said. "I took the approach like it was a real game. I was real serious about it, I did my game-time routine and just came out and played as hard as I can."

The Raptors' other first-round pick from this year, Joey Graham, also did some good things yesterday, scoring a game-high 22 points to lead his White team to a 102-85 win over the Black team.


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