Whenever Sam Mitchell is asked about Andrea Bargnani and his rookie season struggles, he more or less says the same thing -- the big Italian is a rookie.
Last night, in the wake of a five-foul six-minute performance for Bargnani in Los Angeles against the Lakers, the Raptors coach stuck to the rookie theme, albeit in more entertaining fashion.
"There is no pill you can give him," Mitchell said before the Raptors faced the Nuggets in Denver last night. "Sometimes you need to get your butt kicked. That's just part of growing up in the NBA or any professional sport. You get it handed to you some nights and you learn from it. You look forward to that day when you're going to be on the other end giving the butt whippings, instead of getting them. All rookies. I remember Kobe Bryant getting his butt whipped. I gave him a couple of (beatings) his first year and I wasn't no great player, but I just knew how to play."
Bargnani has no resemblance to Steve Nash at the moment as he has yet to discover the joys of passing the ball. He is shoot first, shoot second and shoot third.
"When you're in a new environment and you're playing in the NBA for the first time, you tend to try to do the things you're most comfortable with," Mitchell said.
"Right now, he's probably most comfortable shooting the basketball. Like I tell him all the time, start focusing on doing the other things, rebounding, playing better defence, and then the shots will start to come. The ball has a mysterious way of finding itself in the hands of people who can shoot."
GO CARMELO GO
Raptors assistant coach Alex English would not mind if Carmelo Anthony pushes him out of the Denver Nuggets record book.
Speaking to the Rocky Mountain News, English indicated he would not be surprised if Anthony breaks his Nuggets (as an NBA franchise) record for scoring in a season.
English averaged 29.8 points in 1985-86, while Anthony entered a home game last night against the Raptors averaging 30.6, good for second in the league.
"Records are made to be broken," English said. "It would be an honour for (Anthony) to do it because he is such an outstanding basketball player."