Rookies have hit the wall

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

It's no secret that the three Raptors rookies -- Charlie Villanueva, Joey Graham and Jose Calderon -- have hit the wall, but that doesn't mean anybody is going to start whipping them back into form.

In fact, head coach Sam Mitchell said he is still harder on third-year star Chris Bosh than he is on the three promising rookies, despite the fact that Bosh is having an all-star calibre season, averaging over 22 points and nine rebounds a game.

"I do have some compassion for the young guys, because they're rookies," Mitchell said. "There's certain days when I have to give them a break. But I'm on Chris all the time. I tell him every night. I expect him to get 40 (points), 25 (rebounds) and 10 (assists). And seven blocked shots. And he looks at me and says, 'Okay.' "

Mitchell said that he doesn't really expect such astronomical numbers from Bosh. He just doesn't want to place limitations on the 21-year-old.

Mitchell said that it's important to be patient with rookies, as the Raptors were with Bosh two seasons ago.

"I remember playing against Chris. My last year was his rookie year," said Mitchell, who finished his 13-year NBA career with Minnesota. "And man, he just looked like he was in a daze. We were sitting on the bench the first time we came to Toronto and we were pointing at Chris Bosh, laughing. 'Look at that rook.' It was like he didn't even know where he was that day. But you look at him now, he understands."

Villanueva admitted that being a rookie isn't easy.

"I'm really frustrated," Villanueva said. "I think I started off pretty slow, had a good month of December, then I'm going back to how I started off. My play's been inconsistent and I can't let that happen. It's going to take me some time, but I'm pretty sure I'll adjust to it."

Villanueva, who played at UConn last season, said fatigue is the biggest factor in his slump.

Mitchell said that he went through it.

"I was 26 years old and went through it," he said. "Some of these guys are 19 and 20. Imagine being 19 years old, making it to the NBA?"


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