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A fun night had by all as the Raptors knock off another city


You know, as open scrimmages go, that wasn’t a bad one the Raptors put on out here in Victoria at all.

Fans were into it – in the past, they’d get bored quickly because it’s not an intense experience but they didn’t; the players seemed to have fun – it was a short game with a running clock so I imagine they liked that; and the energy was pretty good.

The Chicken was there and that brightened my night a lot, too.

Now, there is nothing, less than nothing sometimes, to be taken away from what happened but I know some of you are dying for something of substance so …

Yeah, they got up a ton of threes – 43 between the teams in a 40-minute game with 32 of those minutes being running time – and it didn’t look forced at all. Lots of them were what would be considered good shots nowadays and at no point did it appear there was no method to their madness.

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Now, they also made 20 of them, which isn’t a bad percentage and Kyle Wiltjer and Andy Rautins went berserk, combining to go 9-for-15 from three.

Norm was Norm, attacking – he had a tremendous dunk through traffic in the middle of the lane that might have been the play of the night – and it looked like he had just a bit more juice that a lot of his teammates.

Jakob Poeltl was good, too; he rolled to the rim to finish with force, made a couple of jump shots and was impressive.

Please, though, read very, very little into anything. It wasn’t a half-speed game but it wasn’t near full intensity, the teams knew exactly what the other was doing and it was a fun night meant to give the people a chance to see them work and, in that regard, it was a gigantic hit, I’d say.

It once again reinforced the notion that this franchise is wildly popular. There wasn’t an empty seat in the joint – 2,700 was the number we got – and when we got there about three hours before it started to knock off some work, there were already people lined up at the door to get good seats.

That’s crazy.

It’s cliché but whatever. We’re off to Hawaii!

We’ve been a lot of places for training camp in these 23 years, some have been sublime (Treviso, where the front lawn of the hotel was a vineyard that grew the grapes that made the wine you had with the pasta and clams at dinner), some have been ridiculous (Barrie, where the Raptors somehow thought the players would love staying at a Holiday Inn off the highway).

And on a few Canadian university campuses over the years.

It’s a small sample size but I’m going with these rankings:

UVic

Great campus, facility was excellent, the people couldn’t be more helpful and the city is gorgeous, mainly because we didn’t see a cloud for three days. The cab situation is tough – should have rented a car – but it would be No. 1.

Carleton

Nice gym but it’s a bit far out and the part of the campus we were on wasn’t entirely picturesque. Equally nice people as everywhere we’ve been – it must be a Canadian thing – but it’s just a shade behind UVic.

Brock

Sorry, I’m a Badger guy through and through but back in the day, our workroom was a storage room beside the lacrosse nets and volleyball equipment. Best part was we stayed in Niagara Falls that allowed for an absolutely epic night at Mike Strange’s bar. Epic.

UBC

Yeah, it’s Vancouver and that’s good but the simple task of getting there and back was too much.

Okay, so my flight to Vancouver is at 5 ET which means I have to leave the hotel about 2:30 ET, I’ve got a three-hour layover and then a six-hour flight that’ll get me to Honolulu about 2:45 a.m. ET Saturday, there’s going to be time to get some work done.

And since I’m not even sure what day it is, let alone what time of day it is back there and who knows how I’m going to handle a six-hour time difference, we’ll get to things when we get to things for the next week. I am going to find it odd that I’ll be able to watch or follow the Blue Jays in their penultimate game Saturday starting at 7:05 a.m. where I am.

So do your bit on the mail at askdoug@thestar.ca and maybe I’ll knock some off on the flight or during the layover.

The two favourite things I saw here:

Kathy and Ken Shields for few minutes after the scrimmage on the court named after what is the First Family Of Canadian Basketball History.  Hadn’t seen Kathy in eons and finally fulfilled a promise to her to get to her city and hadn’t seen Ken in a very long time. Great to catch up and see them.

Oh, and a deer! The First Lady of the Beat and me were in a cab back downtown and the car heads around a bend and there in the street – basically right in the middle of the street – was this deer. Looked to be maybe two-thirds as tall as I am, strolling around basically the middle of the campus without a care in the world. Since all I usually see in Hazelville is a tiny wild rabbit that torments Super Dog by staring at it from the bushes in the backyard the odd vile raccoon, that was pretty neat.

TORONTO STAR

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