This morning I attended the Suns morning shoot around. I went with an agenda (and without my laptop or voice recorder...it couldn't have been avoided):
Are these Suns, winners of 10 of their last 12 the real Suns?
Wil: "You all started the season 14-3. We were warned that this couldn't continue and it did not. We had another stretch of 8-2 as well as stretch where the team was not so good. Now the squad has won 10 of 12. Who are the Suns now? What's the difference between the big ORNG now and then?
Alvin Gentry: "We are who we are right now." Against Oklahoma City, the team played "with a real sense of desperation. They understand the importance of every game now...the team is starting to anticipate things a little more on defense than earlier in the year." Gentry added the effort has been there all season, but now the team's "focus has sharpened."
The majority of the team took off quickly, except for Taylor Griffin, Channing Frye, and Robin Lopez who stuck around afterwards. I asked the same question of Channing, who approached the media with "Oh sh*t, what'd I do? When you guys wanna talk to me it's either I've done something wrong or right....nah just kidding, just kidding":
Frye: "We've obviously gotten better on defense. We're communicating better as a team defensively." Frye then expanded, noting the team's confidence and how they were expecting to win every game, every time the Suns take the floor.
Frye also discussed the team's slight frustration that their recent success hadn't made a huge impact in the Western Conference standings, and then added, "We focus on ourselves more than the standings. We just worry about winnin every game."
Frye also discussed his current role with the Suns, noting his focus on staying aggressive, putting the ball on the floor now that teams were taking his looks from 3 away, and hitting the boards harder than he was earlier in the season. Regarding his evolution as a player: "I started out my career looking at the 17 footer, then it was the 3, now I'm kind of a hybrid. I'm just trying to slow down and play with confidence, which is tough sometimes since I'm a perfectionist." Frye added to his point by stating they team was looking to make teams play the Suns straight up. Frye then gave Paul Coro and myself a fist bump, "gotta get some wins, gotta get some PHAT W's!"
- Alvin Gentry talked about the team's recent trip to the Phoenix Children's Hospital, which made an immense impact on him and the others who showed up: "These kids have amazing resilience, it's incredible...We got a lot more out of it (the visit) than the kids did."
- Leandro Barbosa was on the sidelines, stretching. Per Gentry, LB is "coming along fine...it's a time thing. It's is shooting hand so things like this take time. In a couple of weeks he'll be fine."
- Jason Richardson was talking Waste Management Open, lamenting the fact that he went early on, before the scene turned drunk and rowdy as usual in that typical Scottsdale way.
- Gentry was asked about the benefit for veterans having time off (upcoming 6 or so days off): "I don't think it helps that much to give our guys that much time off at this point in the season." Gentry added that even if he tried to get Grant Hill time off that he'd "weasel his way back onto the court somehow."
- Frye was talking up his cousin, Tobias Harris, who is playing in high school in Long Island right now and is going to the University of Tennessee next season. Described as a 6 foot 9 point guard, Frye believes he'll be in the NBA in 2 years, comparing his game to Rashard McCants (attack and pass as opposed to attack and score). When later told McCants was not playing in the NBA currently, Frye sounded surprised. "He's not? Oh I thought someone picked him up."
An with that, I was left with my agenda left incomplete....More to come tonight from the game.