Delfino killing them softly

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

Carlos Delfino lets his playing do his talking for him.

Good thing too as Delfino is to the spoken word as most politicians these days are to itemizing expenses -- reluctant at best.

The difference is Delfino is not ripping anyone off. He plays defence, he rebounds, and he scores both from the outside and inside. Just don't expect to hear much from him.

"I'm always quiet," Delfino said. "I'm a quiet guy. I'm not the type who will walk around the locker room screaming and joking. I'm like this (quiet) all the time. It's my personality."

When Delfino does talk, those in the conversation had better be prepared to lean in. He is so soft spoken, you won't hear him otherwise.

On the court he has no problem getting his point across to opponents. Delfino has been a huge part of the Raptors' four wins in their past five games. Over that stretch he has averaged just over 30 minutes a night with 16.5 points a game and 6.5 rebounds per night all the while playing tough defence.

Not bad for a guy the Raps picked up from the Detroit Pistons for two second-round picks.

Aptly dubbed the "Silent Assassin" by Jamie Deans, a member of the Raptors' crack media relations department, Delfino's quiet demeanour off the court is in many ways polar opposite to his on-court persona.

On a basketball court Delfino becomes a guy who will do just about anything to get his job done. If that means banging and crashing for a rebound with men who tower over him, so be it.

He does not shy away from the physical elements of the game.

"Maybe I'm a slow motion guy, but when I play, I try to play physical," he said. "That's the way I learned to play. I was young when I left Argentina to play in Italy and the first thing I learned was I had to play hard because the veterans were somewhat mean. I knew I had to be forceful, especially on defence."

Raps head coach Sam Mitchell admits he was concerned he might shortchange the laid-back Delfino based solely on his first impression. Mitchell even cautioned his assistant coaches not to let him do that.

"I felt like he was too laid back a player," Mitchell said. "And then I started seeing in the pre-season games that he played hard. He plays hard but he's one of those guys who doesn't look like he's playing hard. Then you look at the tape and he's doing the things he is supposed to be doing and he does it well. I kept saying to the coaches, don't let my idea of what I think a player should be doing (interfere) with what Carlos does. I had to look at Carlos a different way. It was a learning experience for me." Delfino says he couldn't be happier with his role right now. Having come from Detroit where it was tough just to get on the floor for limited minutes, the 30-plus he is getting (and earned) from Mitchell off the bench has brought the joy back into his game.

Just don't expect to see any proof of that joy.

"When I'm on the court, I don't show too much," Delfino said. "I'm not really expressive. But I have fun on the court. I don't play basketball for a job. I play for fun and have a passion for the game. Maybe I don't show it, but inside, I feel it. Sometimes people don't believe I have that passion because I don't express it, but I feel it."

Mitchell still can't see it, but he knows it's there now.

"I see him playing hard, he just doesn't look like it," Mitchell said. "His hair doesn't really get ruffled. He doesn't have that pissed off look on his face but inside you can tell. I know him better. I'm comfortable with him. I trust him."


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