Toronto vs. Portland Trailblazers Preview

The Raptors look to snap a 6-game losing skid against the Trailblazers Friday night at the ACC.

THE TORONTO RAPTORS

Record: 4-11

Last 5 games: 0-5

Last game: 96-73 loss to Boston Wednesday January 18, 2012

Really? SG DeMar DeRozen – 11pts (4-16), 5 turnovers, 0 dimes

Injury Report: PF Andrea Bargnani and PG Jerryd Bayless did not play and are still listed as day-to-day. Centre Aaron Gray made his season debut for Toronto last night after missing the past four weeks with a heart ailment.

Turning Point: The Celtics held Toronto scoreless over a six-minute stretch in the first quarter, as they opened up an early tight 9-8 game with a 13-0 run and never gave up the lead the rest of the game.

Pros: PF Gary Forbes had a team-high 18 points for Toronto off the bench.

Cons: The Raptors dropped a season-low 73 points in the loss and they have now lost six straight games.

Stat Leaders: PF Andrea Bargnani 22.3ppg – PG Jose Calderon 8.7apg – PF Amir Johnson 8.1rpg

Next Game: The Portland Trailblazers in Toronto Friday, January 19th, 2012.

Portland’s Record/Standing: Currently are 8-6 and stand 4th in the Northwest Conference.

Key Matchup: PF LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Toronto’s frontline.

Commentary

No doubt about it the Raptors are missing Andrea Bargnani’s offence. But two players who aren’t stepping up to fill that scoring void and should be are SG DeMar DeRozan and PG Jose Calderon.

DeRozan, in my opinion should be shopped around while his stock is still lukewarm. He just isn’t aggressive enough or skilled enough to be playing the 2 spot in the NBA. Calderon on the other hand just tends to disappear.

Rondo went off on him from the get-go last night scoring 13pts in the first quarter alone and “El Matador” didn’t take up the challenge. In the world of the NBA, if you’re not a good defender, the best defence to a good offence is a better offence. He scored just 9pts last night against Rondo but it’s the 4 dime, 3 board performance that’s really inexcusable.

The Raptors next take on Portland Friday in the Big Smoke. The Trailblazers are coming off a 92-89 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Their roster include the likes of high-flyer 6’7 Gerald Wallace, 44-year old vet Kurt Thomas, PG Jamaal Crawford and All-Star in-the-making LaMarcus Aldridge. Crawford poured in a team-high 22pts for the Blazers last night in the loss against the Hawks with Aldridge collecting a doubledouble with 11 boards and 20pts.

Aldridge is going to be a nightmare for the Raptors down on the blocks Friday. The 6’11”, 5th-year product from Texas is a physical big body that possesses a deadly low-post game.

I expect Toronto head coach Dwayne Casey to double team Aldridge as much as possible or perhaps play zone enticing his teammates to shoot the ball. The only other scorers on the team are Wesley Matthews (who?), Crawford and Wallace.

All three are up and down, streaky players as evident with Wallace & Matthews dropping just 8pts and 10pts respectively last night against Hotlanta.

Marauder Basketball Snags First Recruit of 2012

McMaster men’s basketball coach Amos Connolly believes in the old adage “The early bird gets the worm” and is happy to announce his first recruiting commitment for 2012.

Cambridge native Jason Quiring confirmed with Connolly last week that he will be donning Maroon this fall as a member of the Marauders and signed his CIS letter of intent on Saturday.

Quiring is a 6-foot-6 post, who is attending Jacob Hespeler Secondary School in Cambridge. His Hespeler Hawks team is one of the favourites from the WCSSAA (Waterloo County) region to qualify for the OFSAA AAA tournament in March.

Ranked among the top 100 graduating high school players in Canada by Hoopstars Canada recruiting service, Quiring spent last year playing for the Regional Elite Development Academy (REDA) that operated out of Hamilton.

He returned to Cambridge and Jacob Hespeler when the REDA program moved its base to Orangeville for this season.

“As a quality post player Jason was a recruiting priority, so we are thrilled that he has decided to become a Marauder,” beamed Coach Connolly. “He gives us another legitimate forward to help inside, but he has some perimeter skills and can knock down shots from range. He reminds me of Cam Michaud.”

Jason becomes the second member of the Quiring family to join the Marauder family, as his sister Rebecca plays for the McMaster women’s basketball team.

Coach Connolly and the Marauder staff continue to work hard on the recruiting trail and expect to announce future commitments in the coming weeks.

“We choose quality vs. quantity when it comes to recruiting – and are in contact with some very exceptional players. Our goal is to clearly demonstrate that McMaster is a great choice for their university experience,” said Connolly.