'He's going to be our starting point guard'

Updated: December 3, 2003, 8:57 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- Move over, Alvin Williams. Jalen Rose will be handling the point guard duties for the Toronto Raptors.

"He's going to be our starting point guard," coach Kevin O'Neill said before Wednesday's game against Boston. "That was my thought immediately."

Rose was dealt to Toronto on Monday along with Donyell Marshall and Lonny Baxter for Antonio Davis, Jerome Williams and Chris Jeffries. He was having an unproductive season in Chicago as a small forward, averaging just 13.3 points and shooting 37 percent.

He started at small forward in Toronto's victory over Philadelphia on Tuesday night, taking over the ballhandling duties in the second half and finishing with eight assists.

"He did all the things you want your player to do, and didn't seem to care about scoring one bit," O'Neill said. "I thought he did as good a job as you could do in a first game of anybody. He's got size, he makes plays and he's unselfish."

O'Neill says Rose is quicker than Williams, who will now become the starting shooting guard and backup point guard.

"I think it allows Alvin to concentrate on getting himself free and making some shots," O'Neill said. "He won't have the pressure of handling the ball all the time. He'll be a more focused defender."

O'Neill has been pleased with the recent play of Williams, who is shooting .587 (27-for-46) over the past six games after going 2-for-15 in the previous five.

O'Neill also said he's going to call less plays for his new-look Raptors, who entered Tuesday's game averaging an NBA-worst 78 points.

"The less scoring you have the more structured you have to be, but when you have more intelligent players like Jalen and Donyell Marshall and Alvin, who can make plays on the move, I'd much rather play like that," O'Neill said.

Rose hasn't been a starting point guard since 2000 when he was with Indiana. Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, who was an assistant with the Pacers that year, helped persuade O'Neill to start him at the point. O'Neill was Carlisle's assistant in Detroit last season.

"I've known Jalen through Rick Carlisle for quite some time. Rick was saying 'The guy can be a point guard, The guy can be a point guard,"' O'Neill said.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press