TORONTO (AP) – Dwane Casey hopes to bring a rugged, NHL-style of defense to his newest job in the NBA.
The Toronto Raptors hired Casey as their coach on Tuesday, nine days after the Dallas assistant helped the Mavericks win the championship.
Casey succeeds Jay Triano, a Canadian who became a consultant after the Raptors finished 22-60. Casey was the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves from June 2005 to January 2007, compiling a 43-59 record.
Casey said his No. 1 goal is to give the Raptors a “defensive identity.” In Dallas, he said the coaches even used hockey footage during the NBA finals to make their point.
“Because we felt we were playing too soft against Miami to start the series,” he said. “And it really set the tone.”
“I don’t know a lot about of hockey. I know I’ll learn about it. But we spliced in those guys checking players up into the window, into the boards and that type of thing and that’s the way we want to play,” he said. “We want to make sure people feel us when they cut through the lane. And that’s a mindset, and that’s having a disposition — a bad disposition — when people come through your paint.”
Toronto has missed the playoffs for three straight seasons. The Raptors have made it past the first round only once in their 16-year existence, doing it in 2000-01.
The Raptors want to start their improvement Thursday with the fifth pick in the NBA draft.
The 54-year-old Casey is the eighth coach in Raptors’ history. He said he intends to use Triano as a “resource” and build on what he sees as a core of young talent.
“Defensively, I’m going to be a hands-on control freak, so to speak,” he said. “Offensively, I’m going to trust and give them freedom.”
Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo said he got a call from Dallas coach Rick Carlisle in the wee hours after the Mavericks won the championship.
“Rick Carlisle said, ‘Bryan, I want to know what it’s going to take to get Dwane that job in Toronto. It’s right for him, it’s right for you, it’s right for the situation. You need to strongly consider it,”‘ Colangelo said.
“He comes with exceptional support from people in very high places,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that are rooting for Dwane to do well here. They think it’s the right time,” he said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)