I wish I could say that I've given the kind of "balls out" effort that Gentry says is required of his team 100% of the time. I do my best, you know, but sometimes my fingers get tired and if I'm honest, my effort can be lacking.
Here's a snapshot of my notes during today's highly intense and rather long practice session:
Intense. Set screens harder. Deny lanes. We've got to turn it up. Blue collared desperate is the only way we're going to win.
It was that kind of day.
The kind where the language would make Katy Perry's uptight censors turn as red as Elmo. The kind where Robin Lopez and Gani Lawal exchanged some shoves (in the course of play) and glares (after). The kind of practice that puts meaning behind the coach's words when he says, "We're going to play as hard as hell."
Jason Richardson taking a full-on charge from giant Garret Siler on one end and getting leveled by a Siler screen on the other. Hard, physical play. That's what was earning praise today.
In other words, good stuff, although Gentry doesn't want to have go this way.
Gentry made a point of saying that he's never had to coach effort since he's been here and he's not about the start now. He clearly wasn't pleased with what he was seeing at one point and let that be known.
"I'm not even happy that I have to mention that (effort). That's not something that we have to talk about around here," Gentry said after practice. "That's not anything that's going to be able to seep into our culture here."
Defensive game plan
The focus for this season defensively is going to be taking teams out of their offense. That means getting into the passing lanes, pressuring the ball, occasionally employing the full court press and generally playing aggressive on that end of the floor.
"Most offenses are initiated with a guard-to-wing pass and so we have to be able to take that away and then we have to keep the ball out of the painted area. If we have to front, we will, and three-quarter and things like that. We just have to be more attentive to the little bitty things as far as disrupting offenses," Coach said.
Overall, Gentry said he's not disappointed, but instead of playing "hard as heck" 90% of the time, he's looking for 100%, "We're deep enough that we don't need to pace ourselves."
Steve Nash looks at the defense and talks about needing time to get used to each other. "We're starting from scratch again with all the new guys. Our defense, we're not the biggest team, so it's built on cohesion and understanding and we've got to find that if we're going to be a really good defensive team."
Josh Childress agreed. He pulled up the old "playing on a string" cliche to talk about the team's defensive potential.
"I think if we really concentrate and focus on coach's principles, we'll be a good defensive team. It's just a matter of everybody getting on a string. Everybody helping when the other person is out of position. It comes with time. Slowly but surely we're getting there."
- Rebounding is still going to be an issue and the wings and bigs are going to have to step up according to Gentry. However, he's not been all the displeased with it so far in the preseason, calling the Toronto game a "throw away" and thinking the team played fairly well when the main guys were in at Sacramento and against Dallas.
- Gentry considers the Suns different from all the NBA teams because they don't walk the ball up the court. For that reason, the Suns need to be in great shape. "I don't think we're there yet, but we've still got two weeks to get there. But we have to be a real physically fit team to be able to take advantage of the things we do in the fourth quarter."
- According to Gentry, Goran has a little bit of a leg injury and has tired legs after not taking off any time this summer, but coach thinks he'll be fine. "I'm not worried about him, I'm really not."
- Grant Hill rolled his ankle a bit and didn't practice today. It was an excuse Gentry used to keep him out of practice, which is hard to do.
- Nash thinks the team is improving, but has a long way to go. Like last year, he sees the team building and improving throughout the season.