Fond memories of college life -- no, not the wild parties -- pop into Morris Peterson's head when he is asked about the possibility of coming off the bench this season.
After Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said last week he is considering starting rookie Joey Graham and having Peterson play a key role with the second unit, Mo Pete started thinking about the good times in 1998-99 at Michigan State.
That season, his junior year, Peterson led the Spartans in scoring while starting only four of 38 games. The Raptors would love Peterson to provide that same spark off the bench this season.
"That experience (at Michigan State) is helping me deal with it and understand what is needed to win, in order to make it a good situation for us," Peterson said yesterday after the Raptors had some fun on the court during their annual fanfest at the Air Canada Centre.
"I've adjusted. I can start or come off the bench. It's not something I'm really concerned about. It's, 'Am I going to be in the game in crunch time when everything is on the line?' "
At the tail end of the pre-season, Peterson elevated his game offensively and defensively and his potential spot on the second unit should not be considered a demotion. With the defensively-sound Graham still developing his offensive skills, the Raptors need some scoring ability from the reserves and that's where Peterson, who also is a good defensive player, fits in. If he keeps playing well, Peterson should be on the court down the stretch.
"I understand it," he said. "I'm a team player and I'm going to do whatever it takes for us to win. I'm not saying I'm thrilled about it, but I understand the situation."
Another thing that doesn't concern Peterson is all the talk about his statistical dropoff on the road last season. While his statistics were far better at the ACC, Peterson doesn't believe he was a dog on the road.
"I don't let it affect me," Peterson said. "It's not in my head. On any given night, I can hit 20 points or not hit 20 points.
"It's not something I look to to say I've got to score this many points. On the road, I've been called upon to be more of a defensive player. I don't pay attention (to the road-home comparison). I just play basketball and keep pushing."