The Real Uncut Interview with Toronto Raptors’ Dwane Casey

Huge show today Tim and Sidizens as Tim and Sid: Uncut were joined by the new Head Coach of the Toronto Raptors, Dwane Casey. Unlike other blogs / sites, below is the full, uncut interview with Casey. Also, below is part 1 of the Press Conference held today introducing Casey as the new Head Coach of the Toronto Raptors. To continue, simply click the remaining parts once first video is complete.

Tim: The Toronto Raptors hope to be starting something with the hiring of our next guest. Fresh off his unveiling at a press conference in Toronto today, Dwane Casey joins us on Tim and Sid. Dwane, thanks for taking the time on what is no doubt a busy day for you.

Dwane: “Thank you guys; I appreciate it and it is..I didn’t know if you was gonna go with, going to be Starting Something or Michael Jackson or one of the two. I didn’t know which way you guys were going with that.” (Bronsteter used a Michael Jackson tune to introduce the segment)

Sid: Did we do well with Starting Something? 

Dwane: “You did, you did. That was great.”

Sid: Dwane, these last 10 days have been a whirlwind: NBA title, parade, head coaching gig. Is your head spinning right now?

Dwane: “A little bit guys. The one thing about it is as soon as we got back from Miami, I flew straight to Toronto for the interview. So I had about 3 hours of sleep that night and then flew back and had to move because our lease was up. My wife and I, our lease was up in our townhouse so we had to pack and move and then go to the parade. Then pack some more and then come here this weekend. So, it’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been good.”

Tim: I think you owe Mrs. Casey a nice dinner, a fine dinner.

Dwane: “I do, I do. I will.”

Tim: Obviously, you were in a good position as assistant coach with the defending world champions. Why take this challenge now?

Dwane: “Well, it’s something that you work for. I really think that Toronto is a great sports city guys and the number one thing too is that Bryan Colangelo is one of the most respected men in the NBA. Working with him, I’m looking forward to that. I think that you have one of the most young, athletic, talented teams. There is work to do, there is work to putting this team together. I thought Jay did a good job getting these guys going offensively, but the one thing that we’ve got to put in is our defensive imprint. We’ll put our footprints all over that and make sure we get together on the defensive end because offensively, by getting ready for these guys and preparing for Andrea, preparing for DeMar, and all these other offensive players you have is a nightmare. But one thing that they didn’t do is do a good job of defending and that’s where I feel confident that I know I can make an imprint and have an effect on the team, so that’s the challenge I wanted to take.”

Sid: I mean, you mentioned defense. It was one of the first things you mentioned at the press conference today. Obviously defense and for years, this team, as you know, it’s almost as if they’ve refused to play defense. So the question becomes: How do you take a team like that and flip the switch?

Dwane: “Well, It’s an approach. I don’t know what drills where run or what emphasis was put on the team before I got here, but I will tell you this. We will make defense a high priority in every practice, every time we get together, every film session, to the point where our guys will make that as part of their identity. But I don’t want it to be drudgery, I want it to be, I want the guys to have fun coming to practice, coming to work, working on the defensive game, because one thing defense allows you to do, it allows you to get out and run and play in flow, and have some freedom offensively because it’s hard to run out of the net. Everybody talks about how they want to be a running team. Well, if you want to be a running team and have freedom offensively, you’ve got to get it done on the defensive end. So, I think it’s what you emphasize and that’s one thing we will do from day one is have drills, competitive drills, technique drills, to work on our defensive game. You know, you can have all the schemes you want to have, but if you don’t do it hard and play with intensity and have a disposition that, ‘Hey, when you come through the paint, you’re gonna be touched, you’re not gonna get free cuts through the paint,” then all the schemes in the world aren’t going to work.”

Tim: You’ve been around sports long enough. I’ve heard the term “changing culture” so many times that if I had a nickel, I’d be rich now. Is it possible to change culture?

Dwane: “It is. I do think, I do know you can change culture. To give an example, and the only thing I can do is go in the past, In Dallas, the culture was changed from being an offensive juggernaut to a defensive team. You know, we went up to top seven defensively in Dallas from Don Nelson who was a high-octane, high offensive-type team to a defensive mentality type of team. So it is a change in the culture and it’s what you emphasize as a coach. It’s the drills you put in, the schemes you come up with to fit your personnel and that’s my job, that’s my charge to do with this team, and again, it’s not easy, it’s a process, it’s something that’s gonna take time, it’s not going to happen in the first week of exhibition and the first week of training camp. It’s something over a period of time that will take effect. You know, the first conversation I had with Dirk was, the first thing he would tell you was that his offense is his defense. But then, lo and behold, a couple of weeks ago, he was the first one to talk about, ‘We gotta get stops, we gotta do this defensively, we gotta do that defensively.’ So, to me, that is a change of culture.”

Sid: Dwane, At the news conference today, you mentioned that early in the finals against Miami when things weren’t going too well, you sat the guys down and played them some hockey tape to show them some defensive schemes. Question one: Where did the inspiration for that come from? Question two: Which team did you use from the National Hockey League to show the type of defense you wanted your team to play?

Dwane: “Well, you see, you put me on the spot, because it wasn’t the Maple Leafs, but it was Boston. It was the Stanley Cup, the Stanley Cup game, those guys were going at each other and checking each other into the walls and I mean, really doing a good job of making sure people were getting touched and that type of thing. I just felt like we were giving LeBron and also Dwyane Wade too much respect and not being physical enough with them. And one reason was Al Whitley, Equipment Manager of Dallas Mavericks at the time, he’s a huge Canucks fan. So everybody was talking about the Stanley Cup, watching it on television on road and everything, so that’s where I came up with the idea.”

Sid: So what you’re saying here today, breaking news here on Tim and Sid: UnCut is Zdeno Chara not only influenced the Stanley Cup finals, but he influenced the NBA finals. Is that what you’re saying? 

Dwane: “I’m not saying that, but hopefully it did have some effect because I thought we became more physical and did have a meaner disposition on the defensive end. But I don’t know if that had a total effect, I just think you know, we got re-focused defensively, and started putting our hands on them, and did a decent job of mixing up the defenses against LeBron and Wade, and even Chris. We tried to give him different looks by doubling team him some, fronting him some, and putting different bodies on him and trying to be more physical with him in the paint.”

Tim: Doing things like that are the role of the assistant coach and you’ve had some great head coaches, even back in college – Clem Haskins, Eddie Sutton. Do you think that helps you step into this role for the second time as a head coach after spending so much time as an assistant?

Dwane: “Well, one thing that helps tremendously guys is the fact that we have good pieces and the support we have from the front office, the willingness of the players that you have to want to get better; I mean, if being 30th in defense doesn’t motivate you to be better, if being last in anything in life doesn’t motivate you, you shouldn’t be in the NBA. And that’s the challenge with our guys. I had a good talk with DeMar today and expect to try and get in touch and see most of the guys before. That’s the charge I’m going to make with those guys. We’ve got to get better defensively; you don’t want to be the laughing stock of the NBA of being last and challenged that way. I think that’s one thing I know our guys will have is pride because you don’t want to be last in anything in life.”

Sid: I know in the Western Conference you only saw the Raptors a couple of times this season. But I’m curious to know when you go into this job, what’s your current take on Andrea Bargnani and where do you think he can take his game?

Dwane: “Well Andrea, to me, he’s Dirk-like, as far as being seven-foot, one of the best big men shooters in the league, great hands, athletic. Where I see him getting better is being more focused on pushing himself each and every day, putting his nose to the grind and taking it as a challenge each and every day to be the best. I mean, that’s the determination I want to charge Andrea with and try to reach him with. I thought he made big steps last year when Bosh left. I think he took a big step offensively to put more of the team on his shoulders and take big shots in games. But now the charge is to be more of a leader, to be a better defender, to be a better weak-side defender and there are some things we can do to help him with that. But it’s got to come from within. I mean, we can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. But we’re going to work with him, whether it’s holding him accountable, putting my arm around him, whatever it takes to work with Andrea because he’s got too much talent to let it fade and not really try to strain his potential out of him and try to get the most we can out of him. Again, he’s our star, he and DeMar are our core guys are solid. DeMar has all the talent in the world. That’s going to be our job as a coaching staff is to make sure every day we get in the gym, work with him and push him and see where it lands.”

Tim: Fairly or not, Dirk had a reputation early in his career of not pushing it to that level. Is he proof that it can be done?

Dwane: “Yes. That is the point I’ll make and I don’t want to wear the Dallas thing out but that is a great example because with Dirk, everybody said he was soft, he was this and that. Here’s a guy that played with a 101 fever, torn tendons in his finger; that to me is tough, that’s toughness right there. But it took him being embarrassed, being ridiculed, being called soft by the media and having his back against the wall before he said, “Hey no more”. He took steps forward. I saw that look in his eye during the entire playoff series and not just the finals, but during the Portland series. He was determined not to be stopped. Sometimes you have to be knocked down and embarrassed and your back against the wall to do that. He met the challenge and he met the call. I’m not saying that’s where Andrea is, but you know, sometimes it takes being put in the spotlight like that.”

Sid: Dwane, I know this might not be the fairest question considering you’ve been on the job for 8 minutes, but the draft is Thursday night. The Raptors have the 5th pick, perfect scenario? Based on what you see right now. I know the roster will evolve. Point Guard? Big Man? What are you hoping for?

Dwane: “Well, you know, I’m going to leave that to Bryan again. I’ve only been on the job, maybe 9 minutes. But there’s some good options at that 5th pick. Our guys are now in the war room hashing things out. You have 4 or 5 guys at that spot that could land there. I know we need toughness, there’s a lot of areas that could fill that spot. I’m going to leave that to Bryan – I know he and Wayne Embry and all the rest of the scouts, Mike Kelly, are working their butts off trying to see and make the decision. I’m looking forward to throwing my 1 cent worth in there in the fact that I’ve been busy the last couple of weeks and hadn’t been really involved in anything in anybody’s draft, whether it’s Dallas’ or here. So, I’m trying to get caught to speed by watching some film of the guys they are considering.”

Tim: I guess the next thing is assembling a staff. Do you know when you expect to fill out that staff? 

Dwane: “Well, over the next few days I’m gonna talk with the guys that we have here. We got some great in-hosue talent, guys that have been in the league. I can’t emphasize enough how great a job Jay did of starting this process, of getting this re-building process going. Starting offensively they are on the right track and he did an excellent job so I’m going to pick Jay’s mind and use him as a resource. We’re going to have some interviews with other candidates around the league that are still under contract, but we should have that done in the next week or so.” 

Sid: Well Dwane, you said this has been quite the 10 days for you and hopefully, I know the drafts coming up and you have a lot on your plate, but hopefully, you can get can a little R & R before the season begins – whenever that is. You’ve had some tremendous years in this league and you deserve this opportunity. Congratulations for this opportunity. Welcome to Toronto and hopefully we can do this again on Tim and Sid: Uncut. Thank you very much.

Dwane: “I look forward to it guys.” 

Thank you Tim and Sid: Uncut for the great interview. Well done Tim and Sid – very impressive. It seemed the right questions were asked and it was apparent that you guys did your homework. I can honestly say that I have no big expectations from this year’s Raptors but the interview seemed to paint a picture of a great coach, nice guy, and someone who is very excited to be here in Toronto. If anything, his voice gives me hope for the future.

* Today’s review of Tim and Sid: Uncut will be up shortly.
* Photos courtesy of http://www.Raptors.com 

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