Monday, January 23, 2006

Two coaches, one city, no defence

These are sad times for the sports teams in Toronto.

The Argos and Jays aren't playing, so forget them.

The defending champ lacrosse team, the Toronto Rock, haven't won a game yet.

The Leafs are hurting and in a tail spin which will only be compounded when they get smoked by the run-and-gun Ottawa Senators again.

But the distinction of worst team in Toronto is reserved for those perennial bottom-feeders: the Toronto Raptors.

Wow, do they suck.

Last night, in Los Angeles, the Lakers overcame an 18-point deficit to defeat the Raptors, highlighted by a near-record performance by Kobe Bryant, who poured in an incredible 81 points (second all-time only to Wilt Chamberlain's 100 in 1962).

Forget the fact that Kobe only had two assists and is arguably the greatest ball hog of all time (honourable mention to Tracy McGrady) - 81 points is just nuts. This historic event, however, merely goes to prove one point: Raptors coach Sam Mitchell has got to go. If you're playing a team that is feeding the same guy the ball all night, and that same guy is taking all the shots and you can't stop him, then you don't know how to coach. If you can't adapt to that then you have no business leading an NBA team. Sam Mitchell is all about motivation. It's been demonstrated that he doesn't know a thing about stats or game analysis. He's all talk. And if he can't talk his team into doing better than that, then he is useless.


For the Leafs, however, having your coach on the hot seat is a recent development.

I can't remember the last time anyone talked about Pat Quinn's job being in jeopardy. Maybe that's because he used to be the coach and GM and wasn't likely to fire himself. When Quinn was asked to choose one job and he decided to hand over the GM duties to that 75 percenter, John Ferguson Jr., I thought it was a mistake. Quinn seemed to be able to get guys into Leaf uniforms thanks to his reputation, but I'll be damned if he knew how to coach defence. For years, end zone coverage has been the main weekness for this otherwise Stanley Cup contending team, and yet no improvement has been made. The Leafs' defence is atrocious. Until now, they could hide that fact with good goaltending and a fair amount of goal scoring. But with Mats Sundin sucking big donkey you-know-what and with star goal scorers Eric Lindros, Darcy Tucker and Bryan McCabe on the sidelines, the Leafs are dead meat as soon as they step on the ice.

I like Quinn. But he can't coach. I think Ferguson is a moron. So, I have a solution: fire Ferguson, give Quinn his job and then hire a new coach - one who knows how defences should operate.

In a major market like Toronto, there's no defence for being this bad.

Skip: You guys. You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry!
Larry: Lollygaggers!
Skip: Lollygaggers.

-Bull Durham, 1988 (the greatest sports movie of all time)

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