Unlike our former point guard, this guy can actually participate in practice. - Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
Much has been written about the younger and more athletic Suns, and much of it has focused on a faster pace and extended minutes in games. But the youth movement has had an impact on the practice court as well.
We're all familiar with the shortened and compressed season teams played last year as a result of the NBA lockout. There were so many games in such a short amount of time that practice time was severely limited. This was especially true for the Suns, who had three of the oldest players in the NBA on the roster in Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Michael Redd. Even when the Suns got on the court between games, rarely did they do more than some light conditioning and walk-throughs. Heck, the old guys sat out as often as they participated.
However, the old men are gone now, and in their place are young(er) studs capable of running all day long. According to Paul Coro, Alvin Gentry is taking full advantage of that fact.
#Suns practices have been more competitive & physical than at any point last season. Lockout schedule & older team wouldn't allow this tone.— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) October 18, 2012
The regular 82-game season helps as well, but Gentry has to love not having to worry about the aches and pains of players almost as old as he is (ignore the fact that Jermaine O'Neal is on the team; Jared Dudley says he looks five years younger anyway).
Coro Tweeted another interesting tidbit about practice as well yesterday. As it turns out, Shannon Brown twisting his ankle may have been a blessing in disguise, at least for Brown.
Brown missed out on a bunch of running by being held out of practice for a mild ankle sprain. Gentry put team in check for arguing calls.— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) October 18, 2012
I find it hard to believe this policy existed last year. I seem to remember a certain Canadian point guard who spent a great deal of time conversing with the referees. However, I don't recall him running lines afterward.
I like it. The transition defense is pretty horrid right now, so any little things helps. If he can get them to focus less on complaining to the refs and more on getting back in transition, maybe we'll give up fewer lay-ups. After all, Gentry complains enough for the entire team already (right Portland commentators?).
The team has a lot of new players in the rotation, so being able to replicate game situations in practice is a very valuable thing as Gentry prepares the team for the regular season. As the saying goes, practice like you play.