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10 Toronto Raptors New coach Kevin O'Neill has many worries, but in Vince he trusts

Oct. 27, 2003
Oct. 27, 2003

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Oct. 27, 2003

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10 Toronto Raptors New coach Kevin O'Neill has many worries, but in Vince he trusts

Though some may doubt new coach Kevin O'Neill, even they can't
impugn his work ethic. Within three weeks of being hired, he had
watched tape of the Raptors' entire 2002-03 season. (His review:
"I'm telling the guys to pretend last year didn't happen.") Asked
how he likes Toronto, O'Neill says, "It's all right, from what I
know of it." Which, it turns out, is basically nothing. O'Neill
has spent almost all his time inside the team's training facility
or in his new home, a hotel room.

This is an article from the Oct. 27, 2003 issue Original Layout

Needless to say, O'Neill is a departure from the Raptors' coach
of the last three years, laissez-faire Lenny Wilkens. Already the
team is adjusting to the idea of playing defense--lots of it. As
he did as a Pistons assistant, O'Neill has written his 68
defensive principles on a whiteboard in his office. The basics:
Play aggressive man-to-man, front the post, rely on help from
weakside rotations, and put a body on all cutters coming through
the lane. Says guard Vince Carter, "We're better prepared. He
wants more out of us so, of course, that's going to call for more
work."

O'Neill knew going in that his success will depend on Carter, so
he flew to Daytona Beach this summer and had dinner with Vince
and his mom. He came away convinced that the talk about Carter
being soft is just that: talk. "The thing people need to realize
is that Vince had two serious injuries last year," says O'Neill.
"Frankly, Vince Carter is the least of my worries."

Asked what he is worried about, O'Neill mentions the team's lack
of inside bulk. And its rebounding. And the transition to a new
defensive system. And, as he continues, it's clear that his
worries could go on until a reporter's tape recorder runs out.
Which, to many in Toronto, is a good thing: Better to care too
much than too little. --C.B.

COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN Antonio DavisCOLOR PHOTO: RON TURENNE/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (CARTER) SOAR POINTS After an injury-riddled season, Carter is primed for a comeback and pumped to play defense for O'Neill.

ENEMY LINES
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Raptors

"Kevin O'Neill is a defensive specialist from the Riley-Van Gundy
school. He'll keep the lane compact, demand that teammates
provide help and put a stop to easy layups. I bet they'll go from
being the worst defensive team last year [the Raptors allowed
opponents to shoot 46.1%] to being in the top eight. But they'll
be one of the worst offensive-rebounding teams because they don't
want to give up easy baskets in transition.... Vince Carter is
running out of time to prove that he's a great player. He's in
the same position Jerry Stackhouse was two seasons ago when Rick
Carlisle and O'Neill took over in Detroit and Stackhouse elevated
his all-around game. Carter isn't as good a passer as Stackhouse,
but he's talented enough to carry his team to within three or
four games of making the playoffs.... The other key guy is
Antonio Davis, who needs to quiet the whispers that his body is
falling apart. He's got a large salary [$37 million over the next
three years] for an undersized center who can't rebound or finish
inside the way he used to.... The Raptors lack leadership, which
is why they traded with Detroit for Michael Curry. While Curry is
past his prime, he's as smart a player as there is.... Jerome
Williams is coming off his best season, but he's going to have a
difficult time in O'Neill's structured system. Williams is
notorious for not following the game plan: Tell him to show on
the pick-and-roll and he's going to trap; tell him to trap and
he's going to drop off. The fans love him because he makes so
many hustle plays, but his undisciplined style leads to just as
many baskets for the other team.... A lot of people figure that
Chris Bosh [the Number 4 pick out of Georgia Tech] won't give the
Raptors much as a rookie, but he might be their best shot
blocker, and he's a decent finisher with a nice little jump
hook."

FAST FACT
The Raptors lost 519 man-games to injuries last season, the most
since the inception of that stat in 1986-87. (Boston lost 480 in
'96-97.)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP with 2002-03 statistics

Record: 24-58 (14th in East)
Points scored: 90.9 (27th in NBA)
Points allowed: 96.8 (19th)
Coach: Kevin O'Neill
(first season with Raptors)

ANTONIO DAVIS

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
C 58 13.9 8.2 2.5

BPG SPG FG% FT%
1.17 0.43 40.7 77.1

MICHAEL CURRY[1]

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
SF 293 3.0 1.6 1.3

SPG FG% 3FG% FT%
0.56 40.2 29.6 80.0

ALVIN WILLIAMS

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
PG 80 13.2 3.1 5.3

SPG FG% 3FG% FT%
1.42 43.8 32.9 78.2

VINCE CARTER

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
SG 17 20.6 4.4 3.3

BPG SPG FG% 3FG%
0.95 1.12 46.7 34.4

JEROME MOISO[1]

POS. PVR PPG RPG APG
PF 222 4.0 3.5 0.4

BPG SPG FG% FT%
0.86 0.37 52.0 65.9

BENCH PVR* 2002-03 KEY STATS

F[1] LAMOND
MURRAY+ 135 16.6 ppg 5.2 rpg 0.99 spg 43.6 FG% 42.4 3FG%
F-C JEROME
WILLIAMS 158 9.7 ppg 9.2 rpg 0.37 bpg 1.63 spg 49.9 FG%
F[1] CHRIS
BOSH (R) 160 15.6 ppg 9.0 rpg 2.16 bpg 0.97 spg 56.0 FG%
F MO
PETERSON 178 14.1 ppg 4.4 rpg 2.3 apg 1.07 spg 39.2 FG%
G[1] MILT
PALACIO 225 5.0 ppg 2.9 rpg 3.2 apg 0.85 spg 41.8 FG%

NEW ACQUISITION[1]
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college season)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 94)
+2001-02 statistics