Raps begin new era

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Raptors players ushered in the Jay Triano era yesterday, with a mix of relief, curiosity and questions about their role in Sam Mitchell's firing.

But team captain Chris Bosh only was willing to let his teammates take so much of the blame for the state of the sub-.500 franchise, which easily could be 11-6 today instead of 8-9. Reacting to questions of whether a big change was needed for the "underachieving" Raptors, Bosh gave his own spin.

"What is underachieving?" he asked. "The season isn't over. We're one game under .500 and it's early on. It could be a lot worse. I don't know if you underachieve in a couple of games (two losses on this road trip). That's a couple of games you can't do anything about. Underachieving is on a long-term basis."

Bosh also seemed anxious to clarify that Mitchell's demise wasn't a case of the players pushing for a change.

"We don't make the calls," he said. "No matter what we do or what we say, it's all on the people in the front office."

That said, Bosh is looking forward to working with Triano, despite having come of age in Toronto with Mitchell as his coach.

"It's good to have someone with familiarity," Bosh said. "I'm comfortable with Jay. He's been a head coach before with the Canadian national team. He's the best guy for the job and he's a Canadian. That's a plus for us."

Triano's first workout at a suburban Denver gym was a loud one, as he fought to be heard above the shrieking of a high school girls' volleyball tournament on the other side of the curtain.

But if any players turned a deaf ear to Mitchell, they realize they better tune in to Triano or answer to general manager Bryan Colangelo.

"Yesterday was a cancelled cheque. Today is cash in hand," Triano, a native of Niagara Falls, said of bringing change to the team.

Triano will have a few subtle changes in the game plan when it's rolled out tonight against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. The Jazz are hardly the ideal opponent for a first game, given their 12-8 record, traditional dominance of Toronto at home (9-3) and coming off a loss to Miami.

"It's tough to get a lot in in one two-hour session, but we'll slowly pick away at the things we want these guys to do," Triano said. "I'm not one to talk about expectations or wins or losses. I'm about coaching and see if we can make sure we do the right things. Do the right things often enough, you're going to win games."

The Raptors were still getting over their shock of Mitchell's departure yesterday.

"Sam's been here for five years and no one takes pride in that," forward Jason Kapono said. "It's a hard thing to cope with, but that's something we're going to have to do."


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