Mitchell plans to tell it like it is

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

Sam Mitchell figures honesty is the best policy.

The Raptors coach will put that belief into action when it comes time to conduct exit interviews with his players after the season finale tonight in Chicago against the Bulls. Mitchell will not wiggle around the truth, no matter how harsh it sounds.

"It's not about being brutally honest, it's just about being honest," Mitchell said yesterday. "I can never understand what was so brutal about honesty. We're making honesty a bad thing. We're going to start calling it a good honesty.

"How can being honest with somebody be brutal? I tell you what I find brutal. To bring a guy in, lie to him, make him think everything's okay. He comes to training camp and gets cut, that's brutal. Caring about a guy is bringing a guy in, sitting him down, giving him an honest assessment of what he needs to do to get better and stay in the NBA and be a productive player. That's a good thing."

To that end, Mitchell probably will have plenty of advice for his younger players. He likely will tell rookie point guard Jose Calderon to shoot basketballs until his arms go numb. He should tell rookie forward Joey Graham to play against battle-hardened opponents every hour he is awake. Same thing for Charlie Villanueva, who will be even better if he becomes stronger and tougher in the post.

It's unclear what he can tell Rafael Araujo to make him a better player, but he's sure to tell him something.

"At the end of the day, I always say this and I've never been wrong, players respect when you tell them the truth," Mitchell said. "Because when they go home and look in the mirror, they say 'Coach never lied to me, he never tried to con me, never made something seem more than what it was, he always dealt with me straight' and they respect that. Then you put the onus back on them, if you lie to them the onus is on me, I'm not going to do that. That's not being brutal."

Mitchell and his assistant coaches will spend some days visiting players, but he acknowledges they can't be around 24/7. Therefore, the team is preparing detailed individual programs for players.

"We've got a book for the conditioning that's going to be curtailed to what their needs are," Mitchell said. "We won't have Hof (Araujo) doing the same things we have Joey (Graham) doing.

"We've got about three hours of their minutes on disc that we're going to give them. We're going to give them a written summary of how we thought their year was and what they need to improve."


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