Charlie V happy to silence critics

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

BOSTON -- Sam Mitchell is resisting the temptation to insert the surging Charlie Villanueva into his starting lineup.

Even though Villanueva is showing he is better than all those people who slagged him on draft day, the Raptors coach feels his squad is better off with Villanueva coming off the bench.

"If it's not broke, why mess with it?" Mitchell said. "Charlie's doing well, he gives us energy coming off the bench. He gives us a lift. If I start him and we start off slow, who do we got to go to give us that lift? That's kind of the problem. The main thing with Charlie is make sure he gets the minutes he (needs). He is getting more than enough minutes."

And he is doing more than enough to silence some critics.

The 6-foot-11 forward is second among all NBA rookies in scoring, averaging 13.8 points after scoring 18 last night in a 100-93 loss against the Boston Celtics. He has scored in double figures the past four games, during which he has averaged nine rebounds.

One guy who noticed Villanueva last night was Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

"I remember those so-called draft night experts ripping Charlie Villanueva," Rivers said. "They should line up and apologize, because he can play."

Mitchell hasn't forgotten what was said about him.

"Every time I step on the floor, I use what the commentators from ESPN said when they drafted me (seventh overall)," Villanueva said.

"Right now, I'm making them eat their words and I've just got to keep that same attitude."

Mitchell has been stressing defence and rebounding to Villanueva and when he talks about the freshman, he makes a point to focus on things other than his natural scoring ability. While the common criticism of Villanueva in college regarded his attitude, Mitchell hasn't had any concerns.

"I think Charlie understands what people have said about him," Mitchell said.

"But it's only true if you let it be true and that's the thing Charlie and I talk about all the time. Everything we've asked him to do since he has been a Toronto Raptor, he has done 100%. I haven't seen any of that (supposed bad attitude)."


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