Raptors coach Dwane Casey always looking for an edge
By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
|Raptors coach Dwane Casey (left) and general manager Bryan Colangelo during the club's media day at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont., Oct. 1, 2012. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has a reputation for being one of the hardest-working bench bosses in the NBA, and not just during the season.
Always looking for new and improved ways to prepare his teams, Casey took a step beyond his normal off-season routine this summer, actually spending a couple of days at the Seattle Seahawks training camp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Wash., on the shores of Lake Washington. Casey, who lives in the Seattle area during the NBA off-season, said he got the idea of attending the Seahawks camp from a neighbour.
“My next-door neighbour’s (the Seahawks) punter, Jon Ryan, who’s also Canadian,” said Casey at the Raptors media day on Monday at the Air Canada Centre. “He said: ‘Hey you should come and watch practice,’ because we were talking about how we (the Raptors) ran practice and what we did. So I called (Seahawks) coach (Pete) Carroll and asked if it was okay if I came.”
Casey said Carroll was completely open to the idea.
“He’s a huge basketball fan, he has hoops all over this office, and he walks around the office dribbling the basketball, so he was okay with it,” said Casey. “So I went, they put me out there, and I was more afraid getting run over by the linebackers. But I was right out there on the field with the coaches and was a part of what they were doing.”
Of course, Casey won’t be trying any play-action passes or flea-flickers during Raptors contests, but the second-year Toronto head coach said he learned a tremendous amount during his short stay at the Seahawks camp, particularly in terms of attention to detail in organizing workouts and scrimmages.
“I know (Dallas Mavericks coach) Rick Carlisle went to the (Cowboys) camp last year and that’s where I kind of got the idea a little bit,” he said. “But I would recommend any coach, whether it’s baseball or soccer or whatever, to go watch an NFL practice and just see how meticulous they are with technique, footwork, and how they really utilize the clock, with 100 and some men, with music blaring in the background. Guys have to focus to hear what you’re saying or they’re going to get their butt knocked off. So they have to focus and listen. And it’s the same thing, if you think about it, with crowd noise.”
Casey said the fact that coach Carroll ran practices with loud rap music blaring throughout was an eye opener (not to mention an ear opener), but says he understands why the former USC legend did that, and is actually thinking of incorporating loud music into some future Raptors practice — albeit slowly to start.
“I mean it’s glaring,” said Casey. “You’ve got sports writers on the side trying to talk to each other, the rap music is going the whole practice, the coaches are talking over that. Coach Carroll’s philosophy is, ‘Okay, these guys listen to that music as soon as they walk off the field anyway, and it gets (him) going as a coach.’
“It’s something we may look at as far as our stretching (before practice),” Casey said. “I don’t know if I can go the whole practice or not, but I’ve told DeMar (DeRozan) and Ed (Davis) to pick out some clean rap music that I can relate to. I’m kind of a country and western guy, being from Kentucky, so pick out some good music that they can get loose to. Whatever it takes.”
Casey joked that he might not have the “you-know-what” to play loud music throughout an entire practice yet, but he’s definitely going to experiment.
“The rap music was a little much, man,” he said, laughing. “I was surprised with (Carroll) being 61 that he would do that. But he said he did it at USC and he said the hardest thing to do is try to do that after a tough loss, because now people are starting to look at you saying: ‘You’re too loose, you’re too this or that.’ But you’ve got to be able to stick with it, and that’s what he does and he’s had success with it at the college level and with the Seahawks.”
Casey said he was so impressed with the way Carroll operated camp that he hopes to expand his participation next summer.
“What I would like to do in the future is take my staff and go spend maybe a whole week and do what I did over a couple of days,” he said. “It was very rewarding for me and kind of clarified what I’m teaching and how I try to teach, and things that I do.”
“I want to be innovative and try new things. There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” added Casey, before the Raptors jumped on a plane bound for Halifax, the site of this week’s training camp.
Casey was asked what might happen if he happened to play country and western music during a practice.
“They’d probably walk out on me,” he said.