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Toumani Does Detroit
Toumani Does Detroit
Published by Swampy Meadows
Toumani Does Detroit

DETROIT (MI) Ė ďFrom the SwampĒ is coming to you from Little Caesars Arena in downtown Motown, site of tonight's matchup between the 2-2 Pistons and the 1-3 Portland Trail Blazers. I was in the building 3 weeks ago to see The Eagles Farewell Tour with the Elder Swampette and as geeked as I was for that concert, I am even more amped to see UDís own Toumani Camara live and in-person. Tou has been logging over 22 minutes of run in the Blazers first four contests, averaging 6 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.5 APG and 1 BPG. The Portlanders are a young squad, so those numbers should only go up as the season progresses.

This pre-season article from USA Today on Toumani is chock full of interesting stats:


ďHe performed well at the 2023 NBA Draft Combine and his lane agility (10.7 seconds) ranked in the 92nd percentile among all participants since 2000, via Stadium Speak.

Camara recorded 38 dunks last season, per Bart Torvik, which ranked fifth-best among all collegiate players drafted. The forward also shot 72.0 percent at the rim, which was third-best among collegiate players drafted as well.

When he played at Dayton, he also showed a willingness to do the little things. For example, he averaged 0.15 off-ball screens per offensive chance. That ranked third-most among all drafted players.

Before I sat down with Toumani, I joined Blazers HC Chauncey Billups' pre-game presser and asked him about his rookie:

I love everything about him, I really do. He plays with so much heart and physicality. I want him to always be aggressive out there and heís going to take on any matchup on the offensive or defensive side. Heís just been a pleasant surprise to have and heís gaining our staff and his teammates respect more and more every single game. In my opinion heís going to be an elite role player in this game.

Thanks to the UDPride members who submitted questions. Didnít have time to pose them all, so here are the highlights of my conversation with the former Flyer:

FTS: Did you know that when you scored 12 points vs. the Sixers that you now hold the record for most points in an NBA game by a Belgian? DJ Mbenga once tallied 11 points for the Lakers.

TC: No I didnít. Thatís great!

FTS: When was the last time you were in Belgium?

TC: This past summer I went back home for like a week.

FTS: Where did the #33 come from?

TC: So when I got traded I didnít have a lot of number options. I wanted a number that didnít look too big but also kinda looked good and I thought 33 was the best fit for me.

FTS: Every NBA team has a rookie initiation rite. Whatís yours with the Blazers?

TC: They give us some book bags that we gotta wearĖlike kids book bags.

FTS: How did your time at UD prepare you for the NBA?

TC: A lot. I mean just being at college, it taught me to be a leader of my team and to be more mature both on and off the court.

FTS: Do you have any pre game rituals?

TC: I like to take at least a 20 minute nap before the game and eat some pasta.

FTS: Do you find the NBA practices/strength training equivalent to UD?

TC: Mike and Casey did a great job when we were at UD, but here itís like this is our job and weíre fully committed to it. All the free time we have we are able to spend more time on it. We have all the resources in the world. Daytonís doing the best job they can do for sure, but we have more time and resources here.

FTS: After your terrific first half performance vs. the Sixers, a Philly fan tweeted ďWho the f*ck is Toumani Camara and why the f*ck are you making him look like the second coming of Michael Jordan?Ē Your reaction?

TC: (Laughs) Thatís funny. I mean the fans will say anything. It shows that I played well for a little bit.

FTS: So how did it feel blocking one of Joel Embiidís shots?

TC: Did I? (He did) I mean Iím in the NBA and every night Iím gonna be playing somebody who is big time. Just trying to play basketball and win games.

FTS: Fellow UD grads Johnny Davis and Jim Paxson are both legends in Portland. Have you had a chance to meet them or see any film of them?

TC: I met them when I was in Dayton, they came by a couple of times. I havenít spent that much time with them but I know about them for sure.

FTS: What are the range of emotions going from being traded from Phoenix to being one of the first guys off the bench for the Blazers?

TC: When you get traded you donít know exactly what your situation is gonna be. Gotta keep your head level and stay positive. And I thought that was something I was able to do. The resources in Portland really helped me to feel included and feeling good about myself

FTS: "What was your welcome to the NBA moment?"

TC: Probably getting traded!

FTS: Are you looking forward to the matchup with Obi Toppin on November 27th in Indy?

TC: Yeah I mean I think itís gonna be fun, some of my old teammates are gonna be able to come. Iím looking forward to seeing my people and the Dayton Family.

FTS: A reader asked: ďWhat happened to your hair? It was so fun before.Ē

TC: Every time I go to a new situation, a new adventure, I like to switch up something about myself. I feel like my hair was a big part of my identity when I was in college so I wanted to start over. It doesnít mean Iím not gonna bring it back though!

Itís game time!

Toumani enters the fray with 3:37 to go in the 1st. He got a nice tip-in off a Portland miss and then took a charge at the other end. In 10 1st half minutes he went 1-1 for 2 points and snared 2 boards. When Tou sits the turnover-prone Blazers are trailing 48-34.

With 5:35 to go in the 3rd quarter and the Blazers down by 13 Toumani reenters. He gets the unenviable task of covering Pistons star Cade Cunningham who leads all scorers with 21 thus far. On one end Camara blocks a shot and at the other he hits a layup and converts the FT as well. The Blazers close the quarter, well, umm, blazing as they have cut the lead to only 1 point, 84-83. Iím no math whiz but I believe that makes our guy +12 for the period.

Tou got beat on a blowby by Cunningham who hit the hoop and Robert Williams fouled him. Camara returns the favor by playing tough D on Cade and forcing him into a jumper that Robert Williams swats. He sits with 9:30 left in the contest, but returns a minute later and comes up with a loose ball. Portland takes the lead by 1 and the Pistons call a TO. Toumani missed a driving layup but secured the rebound on the other end. Camara is out there in crunch time with Malcolm Brogdon and 3 of the starters. The Blazers use him as the trigger man on inbounds plays. TC plays tough D on Cade and he misses a J. That process is repeated again with the same result. The game is turning into a FT shooting contest. Tou gets fouled going for a rebound with a minute left and drains both freebies to give Portland a 5 point lead.

The last minute of NBA games usually takes an eternity, but this one is over relatively fast as Detroit misses desperation threes and the Blazers come away with a 110-101 victory.

After the game, Coach Billups complimented Toumani on his tough 2nd half defense on Cunningham and the fact that he didn't allow Cade to blow by him. In the locker room, Toumani had ice on his left knee and the satisfied smile of a guy who did his job well.

Our guy finished with 7 points, 8 rebounds, a steal and a block in 26 meaningful minutes. Good game #33!

Here are a few links if you want to follow Toumaniís exploits:

Blazers official site


Rip City subreddit


Rip City Two Message Board


The fans in Portland absolutely love Toumani. As one poster put it:

ďWe might need to consider Camara a cornerstone of this rebuild. He seems so solidĒ

And another:

ďCamara is going to be special...You can see it in his eyes. He's got it.Ē

But the Flyer Faithful already knew that, right?

Thatís it ďFrom the Swamp.Ē
You can email me at: swampy@udpride.com
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By UDTradition on 11-02-2023, 07:47 PM
Thumbs up

Swampy - great stuff...a little bit overwhelming...maybe breaking it up and sending it in pieces?

You do a GREAT job ... very appreciated and fun to read.

Eating cake a little at a time is very satisfying.

Thanks again!!!
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By Lifelong Flyer Fan on 11-02-2023, 08:42 PM
Thanks! Very much appreciated.
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By Swampy Meadows on 11-02-2023, 09:02 PM
Originally Posted by UDTradition View Post
Swampy - great stuff...a little bit overwhelming...maybe breaking it up and sending it in pieces?

You do a GREAT job ... very appreciated and fun to read.

Eating cake a little at a time is very satisfying.

Thanks again!!!
You do understand that this is an actual article and not just a MB post right?
Reply With Quote
By CraSch on 11-03-2023, 12:00 PM
Thanks Swampy, great post, er, um, article.

I have a friend outside Detroit that is a huge Pistons fan. Knowing he'd watch, I asked him to check out Camara for us. His response was that he was very impressed, Camara is always hustling (thus strong rebound numbers) and plays great defense. Said Cade Cunningham was tearing up the Blazers. Camara was put on him and, as you pointed out in your article, Cade was totally shut down by Tou and visibly frustrated. Said Tou's D on Cade was a big reason for the Blazers win.

Blazers need to add a Camara jersey to their collection!!
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