Raps love 'coach' Martin

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

The day after posting a double-double -- 18 points and 12 assists off the bench -- against the Philadelphia 76ers, veteran guard Darrick Martin found himself sitting on the bench against the Detroit Pistons in favour of 10-day signee Andre Barrett.

In a 105-98 loss to the Pistons Wednesday, Martin played just over six minutes, while Barrett, who arrived in Toronto a few hours before game time, played 15.

But whenever Barrett returned to the bench, it was Martin who went over and talked to him, dispensing advice and wisdom, as been his habit all season with the Raptors.

Martin has played with six teams during his 11-year NBA career and already is considered a candidate to be an assistant coach the year after he retires -- possibly even with the Raptors.

"I'll tell you what these guys think of Darrick," head coach Sam Mitchell said yesterday. "His birthday was when we were in Cleveland. The whole team took him to Morton's for his birthday. Here's a guy who doesn't play much, but they respect and care enough about him on his birthday, they all chipped in."

Rookie forward Joey Graham said Martin's input has been invaluable.

"He pulls me and Charlie (Villanueva) aside everyday," said Graham, who has averaged 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in his past three games. "Everytime when we come to the bench, when we don't really understand what Coach is trying to say, Darrick will relay the message to us in a way we can understand.

"He'll say the things that are going to help us, even it's mean or it's cruel, as long as he gets the point across," he said. "This is the NBA, you can't sugar coat anything."

AROUND THE RIM

Centre Antonio Davis missed practice yesterday as he travelled to Indianapolis to consult a back specialist. Davis has missed the past nine games because of a lower sprained back ... Mitchell, one of the more stylish coaches in the NBA, often has issues with the appearance of the ink-stained wretches who cover his team. Yesterday, he actually called the wife of a reporter from a cell phone after practice and suggested she do something about her hubby's unsightly hairstyle.


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