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News » Triano finds more time for improving Ukic

Triano finds more time for improving Ukic

Triano finds more time for improving Ukic
Roko Ukic knows himself and knows his game, what it takes for him to be effective in a role he's learning on the fly.

Trouble is, the thing he seems to want - and need - the most has often been in short supply in Raptors games this season.

Time. More time than he usually gets, time to figure out what's going on in the game.

Time to make mistakes.

"With minutes, you get more comfortable," said the rookie point guard, who had one of his gems in an eight-point, 10-assist outing against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.

"It helps with your decision making first of all because you are not afraid you will go out if you make one mistake. With everybody it is like this, but especially with me. I am the type of player that needs to have at least five or seven minutes to feel comfortable and then I can be much more productive."

Raptors coaches have been loath to get the 6-foot-5 Ukic much extended playing time this year because of the inevitable rookie mistakes that will crop up. Now, however, coach Jay Triano's easing up on the reins because he knows what he's got.

"The biggest thing for him is he's shown he can break guys down and gets to the basket," Triano said yesterday. "I think he's starting to share the Basketball a bit more and a bit earlier. He's not dribbling it so much. When he does that, it makes him more dangerous as a driver. I thought (Friday) night was one of his better games as far as his balance between sharing the ball and driving to the basket."

Ukic doesn't lack confidence in his abilities to not only beat his man off the dribble or take charge of a game. And he's proven one of the team's big-game performers, taking control in the final seconds to make key baskets and key plays in buzzer-beating wins over Orlando and San Antonio earlier this year.

It's that kind of confidence that should stand him in good stead as his career develops.

What the Raptors have determined, by sort of playing with his mind, is that it's best to let Ukic ease into games rather than try to dominate them from the second he gets on the court. They put him in charge and then take some of his responsibilities as soon as he replaces Jose Calderon on the floor.

"He's so effective in the screen-and-roll, he'd come in the game and we'd want to run that play to get him going," said Triano. "He's better off now that we make the first play for him a swing play, where he gives it up and gets loose and runs and stuff like that.

"You don't want to put the ball in his hands and have him take a shot or drive to the basket cold after sitting on the bench. That's something he'll get used to, but we have to warm him up to the game before we make him make plays like that."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: March 30, 2009


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