WATERLOO -- When the Raptors did not have the basketball last season, they had about as much success as a typical slot machine player.
The opposing team emulated the one-armed bandit and devastated the Raptors regularly.
With the harsh memories of last season in mind, coach Sam Mitchell thought back to his school days to produce a strategy to battle defensive woes.
A defensive report card will be created for each player after each game, but it won't be sealed in an envelope. Instead, it will be posted in the dressing room, right in front of the eyes of the entire team.
"(There will be) a list of 10 things we're going to grade them out on every day," Mitchell said on the second day of training camp yesterday. "It gives them an opportunity to see exactly where they are from game to game, what they're doing, the mistakes they're making. We're just going to put it up on the board so they all can see it.
"To make people more accountable, we've got to get better defensively. That way, if guys are not playing as many minutes as they think, it gives us the tool to say, 'Hey, you're not playing defence.' "
On previous teams for which he has coached and played, Mitchell has seen a similar grading technique for offence. But considering the Raptors were fourth in the NBA in scoring last season and second-last in points against, defence clearly is the area that needs to be addressed.
"(In the games we lost last season), we were scoring just as many points," Raptors star Chris Bosh said. "But when it came down to crunch time, we weren't stopping anybody and that's what really hurt."
This season, the Raptors finally have a capable big man in ex-San Antonio Spurs centre Rasho Nesterovic, who gives the team a blocking presence in the middle.
"Rasho is experienced," Mitchell said. "San Antonio has been one of the top defensive teams the past three or four years. He understands how to guard people and defensive concepts. We think his experience and his ability is going to help us."
With wing players such as Morris Peterson -- a reliable defender -- Fred Jones, Anthony Parker and Joey Graham helping him out, Nesterovic feels he can make an impact.
"I don't know if I can make the difference, but I'm going to help on defence," he said. "If we play better defence, we can make up a lot of points."
And if they don't play better defence, they'll know about it.
"It's one thing to show them on tape," Mitchell said. "It's another thing to walk in that locker room every day and the first thing that hits you in the face is how did you grade out the night before defensively."