A learning process

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell is beginning to sound like a broken record.

The reason why he seems so calm after losses, he repeated yesterday, is because the team is playing the heck out of rookies Charlie Villanueva, Joey Graham and Jose Calderon and therefore he is not expecting a ton of wins.

"People wonder why I haven't lost my mind. Well, there's a reason why young players don't play a lot in the league. They're called rookies," he said. "When you're a young player, you hear the things the coaches are telling you, but it generally takes a year or so before you understand. And our rookies are no different than any other young player playing professional sport."

Mitchell was forced to start Graham at small forward yesterday. Morris Peterson usually starts at that position, but MoPete moved to the guard position with Jose Calderon out with a bruised heel.

Graham responded with 11 points, but had his hands full with Philly's Kyle Korver who had 23. Mitchell compared Graham to New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

"They threw Manning out last year, he took his knocks and looked like he couldn't throw a touchdown pass," the coach said. "This year he's one of the better quarterbacks in the NFC. Why? Because he saw those things last year."

"I think with Joey, he's gaining confidence," Mitchell added. "You don't realize you can play against these guys. We can tell you and show you on tape, but until you feel it inside and in your head ... it's tough. "

YAO INJURED

Houston Rockets centre Yao Ming could miss Wednesday's game against the Raptors with a sore toe. "It's not a one-game thing," coach Jeff Van Gundy said . "It will probably be a multiple-game thing, whatever that is. We'll know more after he sees the doctor.

"He doesn't miss much. So when he misses, he's hurt."

ERIC BACK

The Raptors activated forward Eric Williams yesterday.

Williams had missed the last 19 games because of a sore right knee.


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