Keady fits in quickly

MIKE GANTER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

Morris Peterson remembers Gene Keady from his college days in the Big 10 as an ultra-serious bench boss who baited referees with the best of them and always sent out a hard-working team.

But there was another side of Keady to which Peterson never was privy.

"Before he came here I didn't know he could smile," Peterson said yesterday offering up a smile of his own.

After 25 seasons with the Purdue Boilermakers and a four-month taste of retirement, Keady has been hired by the Raptors as an assistant coach joining Alex English, Jim Todd and Jay Triano on head coach Sam Mitchell's staff.

And while Keady has been doing plenty of smiling as he gets to know the Raptors personnel and those he will be working around, he's not making any promises about the long term.

"Stop being so nice to those guys," Mitchell called out to Keady after he finished up an interview with the local media yesterday. "Don't worry, I will," was Keady's at-the-ready reply.

Keady also is quick to point out that he didn't seek out the Raptors, the Raptors came to him and after a feeling-out period of a couple of games, Keady liked enough of what he had seen to make a commitment.

"That's why I'm here," Keady said yesterday. "I really enjoyed being with the team in Boston and here (in Toronto) for the Miami game (Keady's trial run). I thought the players really enjoyed each other and I liked the way they acted in the huddle when Sam talked. I thought they showed a lot of respect and when people do that, I'm interested."

Keady's primary role will be helping the young players on this team develop a defensive persona, an area that has been lacking this season but improving lately.

"I think that's why (Raps senior advisor the president) Wayne Embry wanted me -- because he thought I could help with the rookies and I think I can. The main thing I want to do is help Sam win," Keady said.

And while Keady may be new to the Raptors he is by no means shy about offering suggestions and getting involved in practices.

"I know (yesterday) was really his first day but it certainly didn't seem like it," Raps forward Chris Bosh said. "He was really voicing his opinion, telling us we could do better and pulling guys aside and helping them with individual things."

Rookie forward Joey Graham was among those to get a little one-on-one time with the Purdue legend.

"Just be aggressive and use his athletic ability where it's successful on the court," Keady said of what he has been telling Graham. "We think he is a little tentative and he understands that. He's a very nice young man and very coachable so we're working on drills to get him more aggressive."

Once a teacher, always a teacher.


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