Raptors coach ready to make tough calls

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

SALT LAKE CITY -- Jay Triano knew he wouldn't get through his first game as head coach of the Toronto Raptors last night without stepping on his player's toes.

He's going to tick someone off for taking him out of the game or not putting him in. The bonds the 50-year-old Triano built up in seven years as assistant coach and sounding board for the rank and file will inevitably be tested.

"I think so, but one of the things I've said is that I don't want to change," Triano said before taking on the Utah Jazz as the NBA's first Canadian full-time coach. "I don't want my relationships to change. Obviously it will, because some guys will play more and some will play less and I might make some guys unhappy.

"But the lines of communication will always be open and if that happens, players will have an understanding of their role. If you have that, you have a balanced relationship."

One Raptor who said he'd welcome a bit of a break is Chris Bosh.

He entered the game second in the league averaging 41.4 minutes a night, often doing extra duty when Jermaine O'Neal and Jose Calderon were hurt and the depth at forward was too risky for ex-coach Sam Mitchell's liking in clutch situations.

"Forty minutes, that's tough and if he feels like resting me, that's fine," Bosh said. "That's always good for later in the season. I'm just looking to play intense basketball. If I know how many minutes I'm working with, that will make me go harder.

"I'm open to trying new things. I know how much time I have (to play effectively) in game. It will take some getting used to, but hopefully I will adapt quickly. Our relationship has been professional since the get-go and it's not going to change."

But Triano knows when Bosh starts to fly, he won't be yanking the kite string from the bench.

"Things change all the time," Triano said. "I told Chris I have a pattern and I may stick to it, but a couple of fouls or you make five (shots) in a row and we're going to break that."

The past 72 hours have been a blur to the Niagara Falls, Ont., native. Good friend Mitchell was axed, he was picked over fellow assistants Alex English and Mike Evans to run the show, he dove into the job and then debuted last night against the team he once tried out for, with 1,000-game winner Jerry Sloan on the other bench.

"This organization was incredibly good to me (in the early '80s) ... and I've always respected the way they work here," Triano said.

Someone pointed out John Stockton's No. 12 banner, high up in Energy Solutions Arena roof, honouring the NBA's all-time assists leader.

"I lasted here until John signed his deal," Triano recalled. "I remember watching TV in my room and they're talking about how good this Canadian kid was doing, and if Stockton doesn't want to sign the rookie contract we're giving him, then this Canadian kid could do well. Next day, we're stretching for practice and John walks in with his deal. I got the tap on the shoulder and I was gone. I think they made the right choice."


Videos

Photos