One step forward, two back

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:06 AM ET

Jay Triano finds himself in an almost impossible situation.

He's trying to build chemistry on a team that has more new faces (nine) than returning ones (six) but every time one returns from injury or some other condition that prevented him from playing, another goes down.

Or in yesterday's case, one came back as expected from a minor setback and two more were unable to even take the practice floor.

The returnee, Hedo Turkoglu, turned an ankle on Friday in the club's game in Sioux Falls, S.D., but with a little treatment on the off day and a little more yesterday before practice was back to work yesterday looking no worse for wear.

The absentees yesterday were Jarrett Jack and Antoine Wright, neither of whom made it to the Air Canada Centre because neither could keep their breakfast down -- or the night before's dinner, for that matter. Ditto for assistant coach Alex English although his chemistry with the new Raptors isn't quite so critical.

"We just hope it's not something going around," Triano said.

The chemistry-building is going to be an ongoing thing throughout the season anyway, but the hope was that by the season opener against Cleveland on Wednesday the newcomers and hold overs would have been at least acquainted enough that some moves could be anticipated.

LACK OF GELLING

The 22 turnovers on Friday, which led directly to 24 points, would indicate that level of gelling has not been reached.

Turkoglu appeared in just four of the team's eight pre-season games and played only 13 minutes Friday before sitting down to protect the ankle he rolled over.

Chris Bosh missed two pre-season games because of a hamstring strain but did get extended to 36 minutes on Friday.

Antoine Wright played just one game this pre-season, that coming Friday, when he went just under 27 minutes.

Reggie Evans, another newcomer, missed the final three warmups after spraining his left foot in a game in Boston. His return date remains up in the air.

Triano, who never has seen a negative he couldn't spin into a positive, didn't even break a sweat turning this one on its ear.

"It has," Triano replied when asked if the entire pre-season has felt a little bit jinxed with players coming in and out since the team first assembled in Ottawa for training camp.

"But you know what?" he said. "It's great preparation for the year because that's how it's going to be all year. That's why it's nice it happened now and other guys have had to step up and play those minutes and they will be called upon during the year when these same things happen. Hopefully we will reap the benefits (from that) down the road."

Bosh doesn't believe it's a lack of chemistry as much as conditioning that is leading to the turnovers and missed passes.

"When we get a little tired the ball stops moving and we don't make smart decisions," said Bosh, who single-handedly turned the ball over six times on Friday.

Triano's theory is the team's focus on becoming a tight unit is actually leading to turn overs.

"Watching the tapes from the other night, we turned the ball over (on Friday) because we came off screens thinking pass rather than thinking score," said Triano, who is almost at the point of asking his club to be a little more selfish. "But they're trying to play with each other and you know what, I would rather have it that way than guys being selfish. We'll be OK. We'll play through this and figure out the right time to score and the right time to make the play."

MIKE.GANTER@SUNMEDIA.CA


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