Volume 95, Issue 53

Wednesday, December 5, 2001
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First-half Mustang impressions

Brock badgered by Mustang attack

Raptors' record not up to par

Sports Briefs

Raptors' record not up to par

Perhaps the best is still to come?

Deal wit' dis
Joel Brown
News Editor

Here we sit, a quarter of the way into the basketball season and it seems the Toronto Raptors may be doomed to a season of inconsistencies.

While many predicted off-season triumphs would transfer to borderline domination of the NBA, the dinos have yet to show a game worthy of the label "championship contenders."

To this point, the Raptors have provided their fans with a roller coaster season – one both nauseating and thrilling at the same time.

With their 11-7 record, they sit at fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Not too bad, but supporters are feeling much like parents who see Cs on their kid's report card.

In what could be either a blessing or a curse, the Raptors have not been performing up to their capabilities in any area.

On defence, they've been allowing too many easy baskets and are being beaten on the boards too often.

The offense has often looked more like five guys getting together at the YMCA, instead of a well-oiled professional machine. The perimeter players have been jacking-up too many long, ill-advised shots and refuse to consistently work the ball inside (excuse me if I sound like Leo Rautins, I really don't mean to – I'm not a fan).

Despite all this, the team sits four games over .500. Maybe, provided they make the necessary improvements, dreams of playoff success won't go unrealized.

One major move head coach Lenny Wilkens should make is to move JYD – or to the less hardcore fans, Jerome Williams – into Morris Peterson's small forward starting spot.

The move would make a world of difference in a number of areas. JYD would be a huge defensive and rebounding upgrade over the sometimes confused and floating MoPete.

The offensive trade-off between the two wouldn't be as big as some imagine. MoPete, as good as he has looked at times, has been erratic with his shot and his scoring aggression. JYD has picked up his game, isn't afraid of taking his man off the dribble and going to the rack.

Admittedly, MoPete has most often been the second scoring option to Vince Carter. But this doesn't necessarily mean his scoring skills won't be useful coming off the bench (and hopefully lead to less playing time for stiff Tracy Murray).

Besides, there's a need to look for more scoring from the Raptors low-post players and they have just the man to do it. If anyone has noticed, there is a guy who got a fat new contract this summer who is not performing up to expectations. Cue Antonio Davis.

The power forward proved he could be a reliable second option in last year's playoffs, including when he was able to score on the league's best defender, Dikembe Mutombo, with regularity.

Combine this with the inevitable better play of Hakeem Olajuwon and continued improvement of Keon Clark and the Raptors would have the potential to be a terror inside the paint.

With all the talent this team has, there seems to be a sense the best is yet to come and what has been witnessed is merely early season struggle.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001