Sam's keys to success

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell reiterated yesterday that defence and rebounding are Jobs 1 and 2 this season.

"That's something we talk to them about every day," Mitchell said. "We're on them about it every day, pushing them and working on it. For us to have a successful season, we had to defend and rebound."

The Raptors finished 27th in the 30-team league last year in rebounding, averaging 39.45 per game, while giving up 42.54 (fourth-worst in the NBA), a difference of minus 3.09.

Mitchell is really hoping seven-footer Andrea Bargnani, who averaged 3.9 boards last season, really steps it up in that category as the club's starting centre this season.

Mitchell said his club's inability to rebound while allowing opponents to pick up offensive boards on them, made their defensive stats look worse than they actually were last season.

"There were games last year when we got initial stops, but then we didn't rebound," Mitchell said. "Those two things go hand in hand."

NEW DEAL FOR HUMPHRIES

The Raptors last night signed forward Kris Humphries to a multi-year contract extension through the 2010-11 season.

Humphries averaged 7.0 points and 7.1 rebounds over the final 10 games of last season.

Humphries was acquired by the Raptors from the Utah Jazz on June 8, 2006. He was selected in the first round (14th overall) by the Jazz in the 2004 draft. He has averaged 3.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 11.4 minutes in 189 regular-season games in his three NBA seasons.

AROUND THE RIM

Longtime Raptor Alvin Williams is now doing post-game analysis for 76ers games ... With the win last night, the Raptors are 8-5 in season openers.


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