Brooks Koepka declared his health issues a thing of the past as he makes one final start before the Masters.
Plagued for more than a year by knee and hip injuries, Koepka told reporters Wednesday at the Vivint Houston Open that he’s “physically fine” and just needs to get tournament sharp.
“I feel great; I feel better than I did even three weeks ago at Vegas. That’s behind me now,” he said. “I feel as good as ever, and I just go out and play. I need some reps just because it feels like it’s been so long. That’s why we’re playing this week.”
Well, among other reasons, as Koepka was a player consultant for Memorial Park, the Tom Doak-renovated muni that is hosting a Tour event for the first time since 1963. Koepka described the course as “very tough” but one that should provide some excitement over the closing stretch.
Even if Koepka has an edge in course knowledge, he’s played competitively only once over the past three months. During the time away he underwent another round of stem-cell treatment on his left knee and received a cortisone injection in his ailing left hip. In his first start back, three weeks ago, he tied for 28th at the CJ Cup and then returned to Southern California for more treatment and rehabilitation.
Having slipped to 12th in the world, Koepka has only a pair of top-10s in 14 starts this year. Asked what he needs to see from his game to let him know he’s ready for the Masters, he sounded typically confident.
“I’ve seen everything I need to see,” he said. “I’m physically fine. You can’t judge a player when they’re hurt, and I’ve been pretty bad this year. … Now it’s in a position where everything feels good, everything feels solid, and I can actually do what I want to do. I can finally hit the shots I want to hit – hit draws, high draws, low fades, whatever. I feel like I can actually shape the ball, and I definitely have more confidence now that I can get on my left side.”
NBA releases first half of 2020-21 schedule; Raptors tip off vs. Pelicans – Sportsnet.ca
The NBA released the first half of its schedule for the 2020-21 season on Friday, which will be split up by an all-star break that takes place March 5-10.
The new campaign gets underway on Tuesday, Dec. 22.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 4, 2020
Toronto will have four of its games nationally televised in the U.S. (Feb. 5 at Brooklyn, ESPN; Feb. 18 at Milwaukee, TNT; Feb. 24 at Miami, ESPN; March 4 at Boston, TNT) and three of them on NBA TV (Jan. 2 at New Orleans, Jan. 16 vs. Charlotte, Jan. 24 at Indiana). They will also play three back-to-backs in the crunched schedule and will have a particularly arduous three-game stretch against the Philadelphia 76ers (twice) and the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat in late February.
Below is the Raptors’ first-half schedule in its entirety:
Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 18), a key date on the league calendar every season, will contain a 10-game slate and feature the Phoenix Suns against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Milwaukee Bucks against the Nets and the Lakers against the Warriors.
Under this season’s 72-game format, each team will play three games against each opponent in its conference (42 total games per team), with each pairing featuring either two home games and one road game or one home game and two road games.
As for the other conference, each team will play two games against each opponent (30 total games per team), with each pairing featuring one home game and one road game.
The second-half schedule of the overall 72-game campaign will be released at a later date, and will include not only the remainder of each team’s contests, but any games that are postponed during the first half that can reasonably be added in.
Raptors Announce Coaching Staff Changes – Raptors.com
The Toronto Raptors announced Friday that Chris Finch and Jama Mahlalela (Jah-MAH MAH-la-lay-lah) have been added to Head Coach Nick Nurse’s staff as assistant coaches. In a corresponding move, Patrick Mutumbo will take over as head coach of Raptors 905, replacing Mahlalela. Joining Mutombo in Mississauga from the Raptors staff will also be Brittni Donaldson and John Bennett. Per team policy, financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Finch spent the past three years in New Orleans (2017-20), including last season as Associate Head Coach. He has also served as an assistant coach with Denver (2016-17) and Houston (2011-16). Prior to joining the Rockets, Finch had two successful seasons (2009-11) as head coach with Houston’s G League affiliate the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He guided the team to consecutive appearances in the G League Finals and amassed a record of 67-33 (.670). The Vipers captured the 2010 G League Championship and for his efforts Finch was awarded the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year Award.
Raised in Reading, Pennsylvania, Finch played professionally overseas with the Sheffield Sharks (1993-1997) in the British Basketball League (BBL) before beginning his coaching career with the same team. Under his leadership (1997-2003), the Sharks enjoyed the franchise’s most successful run in team history and Finch was named the BBL Coach of the Year in 1998-99. He coached for 12 seasons in Europe with additional stints in Germany (2003-04) and Belgium (2004-09).
On the international stage, Finch took over a dormant Great Britain National Team in 2006 and captured FIBA’s 2007 Division B Promotional Competition. In 2009, his squad qualified for the European Championships for the first time since 1981 and qualified again in 2011. Finch also led the British National Team in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London where Nurse was one of his assistants.
Finch graduated in 1992 as a two-time All-American from Franklin & Marshall College, and was inducted into the F&M Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.
Mahlalela was an assistant coach with the Raptors for five seasons (2014-18) prior to becoming the head coach for Raptors 905 where he accumulated a record of 51-42 (.548) in two seasons. Mahlalela joined the Raptors front office as director of player development, where he served for two seasons before moving to the bench.
A native of Mbabane, Swaziland, Mahlalela grew up in the Greater Toronto Area. He played collegiately at the University of British Columbia and was as assistant coach at the University of Toronto for four seasons.
Mahlalela started with the Raptors organization on the community development staff in 2006, leading the Raptors Basketball Academy and various clinics throughout Canada. He was named director of basketball operations for NBA Asia in 2009 and oversaw the League’s clinics, youth programs and elite-level development from his base in Hong Kong.
Raptors 905 announce Mutombo as head coach, Mahlalela to re-join Nurse – Sportsnet.ca
TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors have hired former New Orleans Pelicans associate head coach Chris Finch and ex-Raptors 905 head coach Jama Mahlalela as assistant coaches for Nick Nurse’s staff.
Raptors assistant coach Patrick Mutumbo will take over as coach of Raptors 905, a G League team.
Raptors assistants Brittni Donaldson and John Bennett also will join the Raptors 905 staff.
Finch spent the past three years in New Orleans. Previously, he was an assistant coach with Denver (2016-17) and Houston (2011-16).
Prior to his time in the NBA, Finch guided Rio Grande to two consecutive appearances in the G League final, including a championship in 2010.
Finch also was head coach of the British men’s national team at the 2012 Olympics, with Nurse serving as one of his assistants.
Mahlalela was an assistant coach with the Raptors for five seasons (2014-18) prior to becoming head coach for Raptors 905 the past two year.
A native of Swaziland, Mahlalela grew up in the Greater Toronto Area.
The Raptors open training camp this weekend in Tampa, Fla.
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