TORONTO - In 2009, the Detroit Pistons selected Gonzaga product Austin Daye with the 15th overall pick, just ahead of a trio of gifted point guards in Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson and Jeff Teague. The Pistons had been an Eastern Conference powerhouse, a playoff team for eight consecutive years but they found themselves on the downswing as Joe Dumars and company hoped to tread water, putting off an inevitable rebuild (they havent qualified for the postseason since 2009). Chauncey Billups was traded to Denver the year prior, the Allen Iverson experiment was unsuccessful and short-lived and the team decided to part ways with an aging Rasheed Wallace. A new era was about to begin in Detroit and two of the players that remained from those great Piston teams served as justification for the Daye pick. Like Daye, a 6-foot-11 wing player who weighed in at 192 pounds when he was drafted as a 21-year-old, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince both came into the league with a similarly thin frame. It was always understood that Daye would need to get stronger, put on some weight and add muscle, but the sustained success of Hamilton and Prince in Detroit proved that the body-type was not an NBA death sentence. "I was always a slender guy," Daye said Saturday, in training camp with the Raptors, his third team in eight months. "A lot of other guys in the league are slender but theyre able to deal with it." Daye has yet to tap into the great potential that many believed he had back in 2009 and the knock on him has always centred on his strength. Signed to a two-year deal at the league minimum (the second year is only partially guaranteed), Daye has an opportunity to revive his career in Toronto; an opportunity he spent the offseason preparing for by addressing the very thing that continues to hold him back. After signing Daye in early August, Masai Ujiri and the Raptors hired Alonzo Freeman - facility director at PSI in Las Vegas - to implement and oversee a strict dietary program and train the 25-year-old forward. Daye credits Freeman and the work they put in for his transformation coming into camp this fall. "All thanks goes to him," Daye said, "for putting the weight on me and just keeping my mind focused and my nutrition very tight and looked upon." It all started with a blood test. "I actually took a blood test and found out some foods that dont really help me gain weight," he said. "Surprisingly they were foods that I eat a lot so I had to make some changes with my diet." The Raptors forward was surprised by how much the test revealed and how much of a difference the subsequent adjustments improved his overall conditioning. Drinking protein shakes after workouts and staying hydrated - something he wasnt conscious enough of before - helped him in this process. "I feel a lot better," Daye proclaimed. "Its been a long summer and I worked really hard. I can definitely see the results out there, just getting to the basket and taking contact a little better but as far as everything else, I think I did a good job just staying focused on the task at hand and being ready for camp." "He committed to it," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of Dayes offseason work. "He did a great job with it." The added strength should come in handy as Daye transitions from playing primarily at the three over his first four seasons to coming off the bench as a stretch power forward, where Coach Casey plans to platoon him with sharpshooter Steve Novak. "Austin has every NBA skill," Casey said after practice Saturday. "The only thing hes ever had to work on is his strength and his body to not get knocked off the mark, not to give up offensive rebounds and to be stronger. Thats his biggest challenge as an NBA player because hes one of the best three-point shooters that we have [and] he has a great basketball IQ." While Novaks strengths and weaknesses are well known to Casey and the coaching staff, Daye remains somewhat of an unknown. As a result, and with Novak nursing a sore right thumb, Daye should get an opportunity to prove himself in the preseason. Come the Oct. 30 season opener consistent playing time is far from a guarantee for Daye, as Casey has stated hed like to trim the rotation down to eight or nine players (though it may be a fluid rotation early in the year). To factor into the regular season rotation, hell have to stand out in the final three exhibition games with Casey monitoring his defence, rebounding and ability to stay on the floor (hes committed 13 fouls in 48 preseason minutes). The chance hell be given to play is one of the things that drew him to Toronto in the offseason. He had at least one other notable suitor. "I know Miami was looking at me and thats a team I always played well against," Daye said. "It [would have been] a chance to get a ring but I dont know how much I would have played." "Im sure I could have tried to work my way in and got some quality minutes down there but Im happy with my decision to come here. I think that the decision to come here will help me along with my future. Thats why I made this decision, not for right now but for the future." http://www.hockeybluejacketsshop.com/White-Artem-Anisimov-Jersey/. Check out todays trade rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat. And follow TSN.ca each day until Deadline Day for all the updates. Broadway Bound? Less than a full season after returning to Edmonton, theres the possibility that Ryan Smyth could be leaving again, this time to New York. http://www.hockeybluejacketsshop.com/White-Cam-Atkinson-Jersey/. A first championship in 24 years is tantalizingly in sight for Liverpool and its inspirational captain. A 78th-minute winner by Philippe Coutinho earned Liverpool a 3-2 victory over title rival Manchester City and capped a thrilling and emotionally charged match at Anfield on Sunday. http://www.hockeybluejacketsshop.com/. Kadri had three assists extending his point streak to four games as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Florida Panthers 6-3. http://www.hockeybluejacketsshop.com/White-Sergei-Bobrovsky-Jersey/. Williams, the defending champion, won all three matches in her group without dropping a set. Shes bidding for her fourth title in the elite, eight-women tournament. http://www.hockeybluejacketsshop.com/White-Nick-Foligno-Jersey/. The cross-country skiers both won their races on Sunday, with McKeever taking the mens visually impaired 10-kilometre event before Klebl surprised the field with a stunning victory in the mens 10-kilometre sitting category. Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - Demetrius Ward finished with a team-high 14 points and added six rebounds, as second-seeded Western Michigan earned a 67-56 victory over No. 7 seeded Bowling Green in quarterfinal action in the Mid-American Conference Tournament. Flenard Whitfield posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards for Western Michigan (20-11), which will take on Akron in the semifinal round on Friday. Matt Stainbrook chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds in the victory. Dee Brown led all scorers with 17 points, while Danny McElroy and Auston Calhoun went for 15 and 10 points, respectively, for Bowling Green (14-19), which defeated Northern Illinois 74-54 in the opening round of the tournament, but dropped seven of its last nine to end the season. Despite the loss, the Falcons own a commanding 66-45 edge over Western Michigan in the all-time series between the two schools, but the Broncos have won the last four meetings Leading 20-17 with 8:35 left in the opening half, Western Michigan stretched its advantage to 13 when Alex Wolf capped a 10-0 run with a trey to make it a 30-17 game with 4:32 to go before the break.dddddddddddd Bowling Green scored the final six points of the half, but the Broncos still held a 33-26 edge heading into the locker room. Mike Douglas drained a three-pointer nearly three minutes into the second stanza to put Western Michigan back up by double-digits at 41-30 and the Broncos controlled the game from there. Muhammed Contehs layup stretched the WMU advantage to 16, 50-34, with 8:38 to play and it held a comfortable lead until the Falcons drew to within single digits with under two minutes to play, but it was too little too late. ' ' '
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