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duke of new york, a#1
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When I was little, maybe five or six, my parents put me in a rec soccer league. I think I played for two or three years. Just something else to do during the summer.

The kids on the team, myself included, didn't take things very seriously. One year, our coach did. He was fiery and got into a fistfight with another coach one game.

So anyways we're playing in a weekend tournament. We didn't have any set positions--kind of like tyke hockey, where you line everyone up, drop the puck, and quickly you get ten skaters in a tight bunch all around the puck until the next whistle. We rotated at goal.

My turn during one of the games. A kid on the other team either gets tackled or somebody hands the ball, and it's a penalty kick. I'm not a goalie--the coach certainly is aware of this fact--so I'm figuring I'm just going to stop the ball when the kid kicks it.

Our coach calls a timeout and heads out onto the field towards me. He gets up to me and leans in close, careful to keep his voice low. He tells me, "dive right when he kicks it."

I can't remember what I said back, exactly, but I was puzzled, and I asked him why I should dive right. Frustrated, he told me just to do it.

Obviously I didn't know that as players get better goalies have to guess in situations like this. Hesitation is death. What am I, five? I didn't trust his theory but I had every intention of doing what he said, simply because he was an adult and he was telling me to do it, not to mention he was overbearing and not quite perfectly suited mentally to being a kids soccer coach.

So he heads back to the sidelines and I'm standing there in net waiting for the kick.

The kid who's taking the penalty kick is just like me, basically. He doesn't know what he's doing, he doesn't think too much about it. He just plays.

The kid runs up and stutters before he reaches the ball, causing me to hesitate in my motion going right. He fans on the ball, bouncing it towards the centre of the net. I swing my weight back, stand in the middle of the net, and let it hit me. Save.

I looked to the sidelines and my coach turned his back on me. I thought I'd done the right thing, but in not following his instructions I'd failed just the same.


I remembered that story the other night. I think it probably parallels the way Sam and Hoff are getting along these days. Not perfectly, but to a degree.


When you see Hoff on the court, he just wants to play his way. He wants to do what he's done since he got started with the game. He wants to make shots, he wants to pass the ball around, rebound, knock little guys down--all that.

Sam is telling him to dive right. Dive right, no matter what the play. Why? Don't ask why--just dive right.

Set screens, rebound, play defense.
Set screens, rebound, play defense.
Set screens, rebound, play defense.


Hoff has played about three minutes in the last two games. Why?

I think it's because he's sick of it. Basically no matter what he does, no matter what other good things he accomplishes on the court, Sam is only happy when Hoff is doing exactly what he's told.

Now Sam thinks it's for the best, right? He must. Tough love. "Once he figures out how to crawl," he thinks, "then we'll teach him how to walk."

But this is a year in the making. Hoff is still learning how to crawl--or at least, meandering around on the carpet. Whatever the gameplan is just isn't getting through to him.


Sam needs to stop turning his back on Hoff and let him do what he wants. Hoff clearly isn't enjoying it out there. He should be. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. The kid is a hard worker, according to everybody. He wants to get better. He wants to be a player. He's just not responding to the way he's being used.


Hoff should be off the leash. Let him go. Just because he looks a certain way doesn't mean he'll play a certain way. I mean, we're 0-6 for Christ's sakes. What do we have to lose by putting him on the floor for twenty a night? Let him run around out there putting shots up and whatnot.

Let him do what he likes to do on the basketball court. Develop some chemistry between him and Jose--Jose is probably a guy that can gradually work Hoff into the post. Hoff wants to score, the crowd likes it when he does, he gets pumped when he does... I really think this is the key to getting him to come around. Maybe he's never going to be Danny Fortson. So what?
 

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Nice story. I agree with the basic premise. The Raps must have liked something about Hoff's natural game to draft him at 8. But they dont' seem to want him to play anything like he did in college. And they expect him to make this dramatic change in style overnight with very*little PT. Seems stupid.

It reminds me of the story about the frog and the scorpion, where the frog is surprised in the end that the scorpion did what scorpions naturally do. The Raps drafted a scorpion and then seem surprised that he plays just like a scorpion. What did they expect?

There is no plan in place to develop Hoff. 5mpg isn't going to cut it. He will just remain a hacker off the bench that none of his teammates will trust with the ball. There was no reason not to play him 20mpg all last year. The team would not have done any worse. This year we are 0-6 and once again have wasted games where Hoff could get valuable experience. Even if he sucked big time in all 6 games how would that have hurt the team at all? At least he would be 6 games closer to being a valuable role player. Now we still have to invest those 6 games in him sometime in the future or just write him off completely.

Makes no sense to me.
 

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well i have no life stories nor do i have the inspiring animal analogies u guys do....but i do agree with everythign u guys said....Hoffa...really needs to just go out and play basketball...forget everything else...just play ball...i for one play basktball ALOT...and i go to my university and play there all the time...and i have noticed that i am very uncofindent when i play with people i dont no...i get very nervous and do really really stupid things..liek screw up an inbounds pass....but when i go with 4 of my friends who i play on the playground with i light up the score sheet...why you ask? because of confidence....i no when i play with my friends even if i screw up i will get the ball back later on..because my friends no all that happen is that i slipped up once..and dont ussually do these things...but when i play with strangers i think that they think i suck....Hoffa is the same way...he is making childish and stupid errors because he is nervous as hell out there playing...not only that his teammates dont trust him...the guy who controls his minutes will not trust him because he screwed up....Sam is the catalyst to Hoffa's problems...he needs to let hoffa go out and play ball..and not go on with his plan of breaking hoffa down (emotionally) and building him up again..and molding him into the player he wants him to be...he needs to let hoffa play his own game...and then let him make additions to that game...and hey said i dint have a life story and i ended up typing one...
 

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Yeah, I'm a fan of Mitchell's. But I have no clue what is going on in his mind when it comes to Hoffa's "development". He's just letting him become a wasted pick, he's making his GM look bad, and he's not using Hoffa to his maximum potential. Like speedy said, we're 0-6 and have shown no signs of having a better option at centre. So what gives?! Just play the kid and let him do what he does best, it just might work...
 

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if Sam's plan was ever going to work it would have shown fruit long ago. Hes been way, way too stubborn with Hoffa

also, what about the one with the two dogs on the same leash and they keep pulling in different directions?
 

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nice story man...brought a tear to my eye :laugh:
 

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Cool stories fellas.

I'll have to jump on the bandwagon. Totally argee with the stuff that has been said in this thread.

Bottom line: Hoffa needs more PT, ASAP.
 

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agreed...and good story...

playing time may equal confidence, and confidence may equal production and that will equal development...

the only way that araujo will have a chance to develop is to get playing time...the only other alternative if Sam is not confident to play araujo is to send him to the developmental league so he can have some PT...

as a raptor fan...i haven't given up on araujo yet...
 

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Well, I'm already on record as stating that Araujo hasn't been earning any more minutes, but I do not understand at all why Mitchell isn't playing *any* of his centers. What'd the centers play last night, a combined 15 minutes or so? No wonder we're getting outrebounded in virtually every game. I'd be the first to agree that none of these guys is particularly good, but you need to have somebody in there. At this point our best center is Woods, he's gotta get out there, and last night he got 0 minutes. Woods is one of the few guys on this team with a positive +/-, and he's a center to boot, what more could you ask for (at least on this team)? Its guys like Araujo and Rose deserve far less PT. At least he finally benched Rose for the 4th Q last night. I see no argument for giving Araujo more PT, but Mitchell has to get at least one center out there for, say, half to two-thirds of the game, at least.
 

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My biggest beef with Mitchell is his handling of Hoffa. You've really got to hope that their relationship can find a beneficial equilibrium. I don't think either guy is all to happy with the other at this point.

Mitchell likes Charlie more at this point and that's fine, Charlie and Bosh are our big duo. Hoffa just has the potential to be a great fit for both of them, if he's developed properly.

Frustrating but will be interesting to see how it plays out.
 

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that was definitely a good read. thanks, speedy.

i think the hoffa-mitchell 'relationship' deserves more attention. personally, i don't understand how sam's been using him (or not), nor why he has (or hasn't), and i'd really appreciate an explanation from someone. i mean, i haven't really heard anything on the subject from sam, and i'm left wondering why it's being treated like the biggest secret in the world. the darkness left in araujo's corner can only lead to the most negative associations and guesses being brought from the fans and mediatypes.

why are you doing what you're doing with him, sam? it's gotta be pretty simple, and it can't hurt to have it explained (or can it?). i don't often blame the coaches/management for sharing few things with our media, but i can't seem to get my head around the hoffa issue. we're hiding from something, we're hiding him from something, we're leaving something in the closet, but i don't understand the logic myself. i'm sure there's a method to this madness, i just don't know what it is. if i had to speculate, i'd probably suggest that we're trying to 'develop' rafael in some way, but it certainly hasn't worked to date, so something's being done incorrectly. maybe we should start thinking outside the box a little bit, but i don't even know what the box is (nor where it is), so maybe i shouldn't be judging this player, his coach and the cosmetics of their ongoing relationship.

regardless, it makes me uncomfortable to see the look on hoffa's face- it hasn't changed much (if at all). taking yesterday's game against seattle for an example, hoffa almost blew another layup. in a situation where he found himself under the basket virtually alone, you could just tell that he was still playing scared. he almost travelled, he failed to simply go up and dunk the ball, and instead dropped it off the glass for an uncomfortable-looking basket. i mean, i hate bringing that one moment to light, it probably makes things worse for araujo (in that he can almost justify his fear under the basket by rightfully citing the spotlight under which he seems to play eternally), but i can't help myself. he is as uncomfortable now as he was last year.

that's hard for me to deal with as a fan. and sam, having been involved with him from day one, deserves at least a share of the blame in that respect. these kids should not be stuck with inexperience (and its attributes) forever. hoffa may be especially hard to teach, i don't know, but it's not an impossible task regardless. i think sam should have found the 'right way' to treat this kid by now, if only to relieve araujo of his childish thoughts and paralysis, but he hasn't. i find that to be a legitimate concern for the future- not only as it pertains to rafael araujo, but also as it relates to the toronto raptors and the rest of our youth.

but look at this post. i wouldn't have to feel this way, and think along these lines, if i were just given a fair explanation from sam mitchell. but we can't even get that for some bizarre reason, so the post stands. what can you do.

peace
 

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Heh, speedy anymore interesting stoires?
 

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Very nice story, and I completely agree.

I thought Mitchell mishandled Araujo last season, and this season he is doing the exact same thing - except Hoffa is playing even less now.

Matt Bonner, our new backup centre, is out on the floor for 15-20 minutes a game because he works hard. He can't rebound, play defense, or set screens. Hoffa works just as hard and does those three things twice as well. Doesn't make sense to me.
 

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It's great to see some of you think Hoffa needs more PT, and play his game.
Once upon a time, ages before... in the last 3 preseason's game... I really did think that was it! Finnaly Araujo is getting PT and cofidence, playing his game...
Then, first game, regular season, some poor PT... another game, 8 min... next, 5min... now 3min... talk about a confidence breaker... this coach sure knows how to do it... Give Villanueva this PT and this treatment, and see how he does...
On the oposite, see Leandro Barbosa's development... Suns are putting him more on SG position, were he plays better...
I think Hoffa could have used some more luck... maybe be drafted not so high, and go to a team were coaches are more constructive...
Anyway, Toronto's fans doesn't deserve wath is hapenning to this team... It's not something you should get used to... lose games like that... if at least there was some development... I think a coach change here would make huge difference...
I wish Hoffa to go to a team were he can play his game and get confident... I'm afraid there's no place for him in Toronto anymore...
(sorry for my english... and trade hoffa plz... I hope some team still want him)
 
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