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Toronto Raptors' Andrea Bargnani: It's Amore at the ACC

Stephen Brotherston@@ProBballNBAAnalyst IDecember 30, 2009

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 02:  Andrea Bargnani #7 of the Toronto Raptors against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 2, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

An unusual thing happened during the recent Raptors home game against the Detroit Pistons.  Raptors TV analyst Leo Rautins sent some “love” and support out to the Raptors former number one pick, Andrea Bargnani.

A Raptors TV analyst showing some support for a Raptors player during a broadcast shouldn’t be all that unusual.  At least that’s what one might think.

But the Raptors TV crew doesn’t often have the usual “homer-isms” that are common place around the NBA.  At least since Chuck took his act back to Chicago (and he is missed at times)!

No, as often as not, Raptors analysts have been willing to throw Andrea under the bus for picking up bad fouls, not getting enough rebounds, and playing bad defense.  Even when, in this writer’s opinion, the complaints were baseless.

As this season has progressed, there have been subtle changes in the comments coming from the broadcast booth.  Missed calls by the referees are being noted more often.  The “I don’t think that was a foul” comments have been more forth-coming.

And a little homer-ism can be a good thing.  They are supposed to be Raptors broadcasters.

In the game against the Pistons, the referees signaled a very dubious foul call against Andrea Bargnani.  This immediately led to the comment from Leo Rautins that, “Andrea picks up more phantom foul calls than anyone else.”

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And Leo went on with this line of thought for some time.  Even after the referees had changed the call to an even more unlikely (unlucky) Raptors player.

And Leo was right.  Bargnani has been the victim of phantom foul calls far too often in his young career and its about time somebody in the Raptors broadcast booth started making some noise about it.

In the NBA, perception does equal reality and if referees believe that you pick up too many fouls, they make sure you get assessed them.

But Leo didn’t stop with his (unexpected) support of Bargnani there.

Towards the end of the game Leo says, “Bargnani played well defensively.”

At this point you could have been excused if you believed a hearing test was in order.  Leo has rarely said anybody on the Raptors played good defense.

Of course Leo was correct.

Bargnani’s defense has continued to improve this season and he has been the Raptors best big man on switches where the big is left to cover a guard.  And everyone should have noticed by now the number of blocked mid-ranged shots Bargnani has picked up covering smaller players.

Towards the end the broadcast, Bargnani was “selected” as the Just Energy Player of the game.  A questionable marketing ploy to be sure, but this usually goes to the player with the most stats (just write Bosh in here almost every game).

And Bosh did have another monster game with 25, 16, and 3 blocks compared to Bargnani’s 16, 6, and 2 blocks.

But this one seemed like a make up call for the previous game in Detroit where Bargnani was 21, 4, and 2 blocks and Bosh was 12, 9, and 1 block.  And Bosh was the Just Energy player.

Maybe meaningless, but it was good to see the Raptors TV crew throwing some love at Bargnani.

And Andrea Bargnani does love playing at the ACC.  At least that what his statistics would tell you.

So far this season at home, Andrea is averaging: 18.4 points; 7 rebounds; 1.3 blocks; and 0.5 steals in 34.7 minutes.

On the road this drops to: 14.4 points; 5.3 boards; 1.2 blocks; and 0.2 steals in 32 minutes.

Bargnani is far more efficient and aggressive at home as well. Andrea shoots 50 percent at home compared to 44.3 percent on the road.  He takes 1.3 more shots per game and picks up 1.1 more fouls.  And Bargnani gets to the free throw line 1.6 times per game more often at home.

Really, there is nothing unusual about players and teams performing better at home. And since most fans can’t get out to watch in other cities, this is where we want them to be at their best.

And it is encouraging to see Bargnani get some recognition for something other than his offense.

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