Carlesimo likes what he sees

Ryan Wolstat, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:29 PM ET

One of P.J. Carlesimo’s resolutions is to stop referring to the past so much — particularly his heady days in San Antonio — but his new employer should let him talk about it as often as possible.

The Raptors simply have not had a lot of people sitting on their bench with as much experience and success on the resume as the fiery 61-year-old.

In his first meeting with the media since coming on board as an assistant to long-time friend Jay Triano, Carlesimo provided a taste of what this listing franchise — which he labelled “not far away” can hope to get out of him.

Carlesimo, who has many war stories, played up the importance of traits the Raptors have sorely lacked, particularly of late.

“I’ve been around a long time and had a chance to work with a lot of people who have been successful,” Carlesimo said. “I learned a ton.

“It’s about defence and rebounding. You don’t necessarily have to be chippy, you don’t have to take hard fouls, you just have to focus on that end of the court. You don’t need guys to be thugs and knock people down. It’s OK, but it’s not a necessity.”

Defence, rebounding, intensity, all have been in short supply here as a roster widely panned as soft and uninspired failed to reach the playoffs the past two seasons.

Though Carlesimo remarked, “clearly being nice is not one of my strengths,” he opined that it is not the job of the coaching staff, but rather the players to bring a determined attitude onto the hardwood. And you don’t have to be a sour individual to do that either.

“To me, maybe the best player in this league (in the past 15 years) is Tim Duncan and there may not be a nicer person,” he said.

“You can be nice and still be aggressive. (Duncan and the equally laid-back David Robinson) got me three rings, so, they can compete at the same time.”

To this point, Chris Bosh, who likely won’t be back anyways, Andrea Bargnani and the rest, save one or two players, have not shown they have that fire inside of them.

Carlesimo will help Triano find out if they do.

The veteran’s relationship with the former Canadian national team standout dates back to when Triano played under the legendary Jack Donohue in the late 1970s and stretches to the fine work they have done together of late for USA Basketball.

Carlesimo, a big fan of the city, did not hesitate when the club, seeking to add a coaching lifer to assist Triano, reached out to him.

“The challenge is appealing, but it really was the people and the fact that they’re heading in the right direction,” he said.

“It’s a lot more fun when every night you’ve got a chance to win.

“I think we’re pretty close. A lot’s going to depend on who we can keep here or who we can bring in to augment what’s already here.”

The addition of Carlesimo does just that for the coaching staff. The roster will be Colangelo’s next challenge.

ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


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