Singing praises of Triano

Bryan Colangelo has blown up the Raptors' roster this offseason, thanks to Jay Triano's input. (Sun...

Bryan Colangelo has blown up the Raptors' roster this offseason, thanks to Jay Triano's input. (Sun Media/Jack Boland)

STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

Of all that excites Bryan Colangelo in this summer of change -- and so much does -- nothing gets him quite as enthusiastic as talking about his new coach.

Jay Triano wasn't the easy hire or the obvious hire but as August begins and the Raptors training camp is almost two months away, it's apparent that if Colangelo liked Triano before, he's crazy about him now.

"It's not just me," Colangelo said on the telephone. "I'm getting glowing reports from USA Basketball about Jay. I'm getting glowing reports from Mike Krzyzewski and (my father) Jerry Colangelo about what he's doing at the U.S. camp.

"It's one thing when you think you see something. It's something else when others see the same thing you do. It just feels good. It feels good in terms of our relationship, it feels good in terms of the structure of our team. You need certain things to be successful and coaching is a big part of it. I just see a guy growing into the job and I can't wait to get going."

On the day Colangelo officially hired Triano, they had a public disagreement in the smallest sense. It was Triano's belief, having coached most of the last horrible Raptors season, that his team lacked depth, lacked fight, lacked character, lacked grit. He wanted all of that addressed in the off-season. Colangelo, still too close to the last team and his constant reminders that this was the best Raptors roster ever, wouldn't necessarily back away from that viewpoint.

Only his actions this summer have been more Triano and less status quo. Colangelo has basically blown up his roster -- changing seven of the 10 key players on any National Basketball Association team and not surprisingly altering the depth, the fight, the character, the grit, and even the athleticism of the Raptors.

Is this a championship team? Highly unlikely, especially in an Eastern Conference with Cleveland, Orlando and Boston.

Is this a playoff team? Absolutely. This could or should be a 45- to 50-win team, barring injuries, and the usual problems losing teams encounter.

"I never like to pre-judge any of this (off-season) stuff," Colangelo said. "You do what you think is right. You do it every year. Then you play the games and see what happens."

In what likely is Triano's starting lineup, a healthy Jose Calderon returns at point guard, with probably rookie Demar DeRozan playing shooting guard instead of Anthony Parker and Hedo Turkoglu at small forward instead of Shawn Marion or before that Jamario Moon. Chris Bosh is Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani is Andrea Bargnani: A better starting lineup than last year.

But the big difference is on the bench, where Colangelo spent a lot of the winter talking about the return of Carlos Delfino, which never really materialized and didn't really have to.

Jarrett Jack will play the point on the second unit, with Marco Belinelli at shooting guard, Antoine Wright at small forward, Reggie Evans at power forward and Rasho Nesterovic at centre. The possibilities are many.

Jack is good enough to start on some NBA teams; Belinelli had a string of 20-point games last season which shows what he can do when he gets minutes; Wright is a superb defender; Evans is the kind of nasty rebounder the Raps so badly need and Nesterovic is one of those glue-guy intelligent centres of marginal talent but decent value.

"It's played out nicely," Colangelo said. "We had some goals and objectives and hopefully we met them. It starts in training camp and I know Jay is already planning the camp. Right now, things feel good. It feels good in terms or our relationship and how we're going about doing this. I'm just excited to get going, to see how everything works out."


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