Mitchell preaches practice

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

Head coach Sam Mitchell has been preaching work ethic to his team this season, and that means venturing to the club's practice gym and working out outside of normal practice times.

Mitchell doesn't make such workouts mandatory, but he encourages his players, especially the young guys, to wander over to the Air Canada Centre practice gym and get in shots or work out if they aren't doing anything else.

"We try to remind them, we've got a coach, Jim Todd, who lives in this building. He's here at 6 o'clock in the morning and doesn't leave until 10 o'clock at night," Mitchell said. "(The message is) come back when you're not doing anything. (If) the weather's bad outside, you've got nowhere to go, it's 5:30, 6 o'clock, come back and get some shots. Because at the end of the day, if you don't put in extra time, you're not going to be as good as you want to be."

Mitchell has also been preaching his players to prioritize. And he said it has paid off as many of the rookies, such as P.J. Tucker and Andrea Bargnani, have been spotted at the gym working on their own.

"Whatever you put in that pot, that's what you're going to get out. If you put minimal ingredients in there, one hamhock, don't expect three when you open that pot when it's done," Mitchell said.

As for distractions away from the court, Mitchell said that it's a learning experience all new NBA players go through.

"I always remind them, people are always going to ask you to be here and be there, but remember what your No.1 reason for being here is; To get better as a basketball player. I tell the guys, you've got to learn that powerful word -- no. I can't do it today."

Go west, young men

Mitchell also reminded his players to be organized for their upcoming west-coast road swing, which begins Friday night when they fly out after hosting the Atlanta Hawks at the ACC.

"We've got a road trip coming, 11 days (and I reminded them to) make sure they come with their passport. You'd be surprised how many times guys have to go back to get their passports," Mitchell said. "You have to understand, when you come from another team (to Canada), you're not used to having to take your passport everywhere you go. So it's just getting in the habit of keeping your passport in your bag."


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