Rap­tors talk­ing turnover, but it’s a good thing

‘Best tal­ent in a long time,’ says as­sis­tant coach Tri­ano

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - Sports Bulletin Board Midget Aaa Cis At A Glance C - By Lori Ewing

WATER­LOO, Ont. — Jay Tri­ano has worked with three Toronto Rap­tors head coaches, three gen­eral man­agers and a re­volv­ing door of play­ers.

Through all the changes the NBA team has seen dur­ing his four sea­sons in Toronto, the Cana­dian coach has re­mained a con­stant.

The Rap­tors head into a new sea­son with a new ros­ter af­ter one of the most dra­matic off-sea­son makeovers Tri­ano has seen yet. He be­lieves it may turn out to be the most suc­cess­ful.

“We’ve got all the right rea­sons to be op­ti­mistic for this year,” Tri­ano said at train­ing camp at Water­loo’s RIM Park on Fri­day. “This is the best tal­ent and best bas­ket­ball long time.”

GM Bryan Colan­gelo blew up the ros­ter in off-sea­son — only five play­ers re­main from team that went 27-55 last sea­son.

The mood is more pos­i­tive, Tri­ano said, with Jose Calderon and Rap­tors rookie Jorge Gar­ba­josa fresh off their gold-medal per­for­mance for Spain at the world cham­pi­onship and the sign­ing of Chris Bosh to a con­tract ex­ten­sion in the off­sea­son.

“Bryan has re­ally changed the face of the or­ga­ni­za­tion from the top and from the prod­uct that’s on the floor,” said Tri­ano. “There are so many new faces. We’ve kept the good guys — Mo (Peter­son) and Chris and the rest. It’s fun com­ing to prac­tice be­cause they’re all good peo­ple and that makes it such a good en­vi­ron­ment.”

The Rap­tors re­turned to Water­loo to hold camp this year af­ter two sea­sons at St. Catharines, Ont.

I.Q.

that we’ve had in a the the Tri­ano, Peter­son and Bosh — who was in his rookie sea­son — are the only Rap­tors re­main­ing from the 2003 Water­loo camp.

“That kind of shocked me when I heard that,” said Tri­ano. “In this busi­ness there is so much change that you don’t re­al­ize it some­times un­til you hear a fact like that . . . it kind of hits you a bit.”

But the 48-year-old Tri­ano, who worked for coaches Lenny Wilkens and Kevin O’Neill be­fore Mitchell, said he’s made the most of the changes in staff, glean­ing knowl­edge from ev­ery­one he’s worked with.

“It’s been in­ter­est­ing,” said Tri­ano, the first Cana­dian-born coach in the NBA. “Dif­fer­ent coaches have dif­fer­ent styles of teach­ing, they have dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties, they have dif­fer­ent styles of what they want to do of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively, and for a per­son who loves bas­ket­ball like I do, it’s been great to learn from so many dif­fer­ent peo­ple.”

The na­tive of Ni­a­gara Falls, Ont., heads into the NBA sea­son af­ter a few un­ex­pected weeks off. He had ac­cepted a job as the head coach of the Repub­lic of Ge­or­gia’s na­tional team, but Ge­or­gian of­fi­cials pulled the plug at the last minute.

Tri­ano was the head coach of the Cana­dian men’s se­nior team, lead­ing the squad to an im­pres­sive sev­enth-place fin­ish at the 2000 Olympics in Syd­ney. Af­ter the team didn’t qual­ify for the 2004 Games, Tri­ano’s con­tract wasn’t re­newed.

While the Ge­or­gia job was not to be, Tri­ano said he’d love to coach a team at the in­ter­na­tional level again.

“Any time you coach a na­tional team, there’s just such a sense of pride. Th­ese guys (Calderon and Gar­ba­josa) played for Spain and the two Slove­ni­ans (Rasho Nes­terovic and Uros Slokar) played at the world cham­pi­onship . . . There’s no money in­volved, you just do it for the love of the game and the love of your coun­try.”

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