Teaching Bargnani

Raps forward Andrea Bargnani has not scored in double digits since Jan. 4, a stretch of eight...

Raps forward Andrea Bargnani has not scored in double digits since Jan. 4, a stretch of eight games. SUN FILE/Jack Boland

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

The Raptors are considering bringing in some extra coaching help for struggling centre Andrea Bargnani, who has not shown any signs that he is ready to break out of a sophomore slump.

General manager Bryan Colangelo said that the Raptors have discussed the idea of bringing in a coach to specifically help Bargnani get used to, and learn the nuances of, playing the centre position. The 7-foot Italian was moved to centre this season after a fine rookie campaign last year at forward.

The organization loves the idea of Bargnani and all-star power forward Chris Bosh starting together in the frontcourt, which would cause opposition teams all sorts of matchup problems if each was on top of his game. And while Bosh is in all-star form once again, the 22-year-old Bargnani hasn't lived up to his end of the bargain.

He is averaging 8.7 points and 3.4 rebounds this season, almost three points fewer per game than his rookie campaign. And instead of going up, his rebounding numbers have gone down.

And it has been worse lately.

Bargnani has not scored in double digits since Jan. 4, a stretch of eight games. During that time, he has averaged just 4.1 points and 2.75 rebounds and rarely has played more than 20 minutes, either because of foul trouble or as a result of his poor play.

Head coach Sam Mitchell has taken him out of the game on occasion for his lacklustre play on defence.

Toronto's 99-95 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wachovia Center on Saturday night was typical of Bargnani's recent starts.

He lasted just seven minutes into the first quarter when Mitchell sat him down for veteran Rasho Nesterovic after Bargnani picked up two fouls. Bargnani ended playing just under 12 minutes in the game, far fewer than any other starter, and scored just three points with zero rebounds.

Bargnani's problems this season began after he returned from a short stint on the inactive list because of a hyperextended knee.

Colangelo understands that Bargnani's confidence is low now, but insisted that the organization still is bullish on the second-year NBAer, although it has reached the point where Mitchell loathes discussing Bargnani's problems with the media, before or after games.

Mitchell has expressed relief in recent games that his other four starters -- Bosh, small forward Jamario Moon, shooting guard Anthony Parker and point guard Jose Calderon -- are playing well. Mitchell said his main priority with Bargnani is to get him to understand and follow his defensive assignments.

"That's the toughest thing for young players to understand -- there's a lot of things you can do to help influence a basketball game other than scoring," Mitchell said. "You try to tell players you can always play defence, you can always rebound, you can always make that extra pass, you can always make the team better -- it has nothing to do with if you're scoring or not."

Colangelo did not indicate who the team might bring in to work with Bargnani, only that it has been seriously discussed.

Mitchell gave his players yesterday off, as the club has played four games in five days. They will reconvene for practice this afternoon at the Air Canada Centre in preparation for Wednesday's game in Boston against the Celtics. Boston, at 32-6, has the best record in the NBA, while the Raptors are 22-19.


Videos

Photos