Amid a chilly start to their first day of training camp in Southern California, the Suns certainly wasted little time working up a sweat.
Phoenix took to the University of San Diego’s Jenny Craig Pavilion for two practices Tuesday, which featured a little bit of everything, including plenty of running, shooting, instruction, weightlifting, stretching, drills and even a little five-on-five action.
“It’s practice, back to the hotel and practice,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Steve Kerr.” It’s a beautiful setting, but it is training camp. It’s work. Training camp used to be even tougher. It’s still tough for the players. The first few days, your body has to adjust. Even though they’ve been training the last couple of months, it’s not the same. Your body goes through shock, but it responds. The guys will be fine.”
Running his first Suns training camp as head coach, Alvin Gentry is grateful to have returning veterans like Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Amar’e Stoudemire to help him and his coaching staff show the younger players and offseason acquisitions the proverbial ropes.
“They know we have a purpose to work hard,” Gentry said. “Steve, Grant and Amar’e have played this way four out of the last five years. Some of the things we’ve put back in the offense will just come naturally to them. I don’t see it as a learning curve. Just getting into basketball shape will take care of it.”
League rules mandate only one contact session per day, so while the morning session was comprised mostly of instructional drills, the evening became a bit more heated, competitively, of course.
“The morning, there is no contact,” Gentry continued, “so we do a lot of teaching and covering the basics. At night, we’ll come back and ‘put on the pads,’ as they say. We only have a few days to get ready to play a basketball game.”
With an intra-squad scrimmage slated for Saturday afternoon at the facility, not to mention exhibition games vs. Partizan Belgrade, Golden State and Oklahoma City over the next two weeks, the Suns are looking forward to a productive, yet low-key camp.
Nash believes it’s a benefit heading into 2009-10 without the distractions that hovered over last season’s squad, namely “two coaching changes, a blockbuster trade and losing a teammate to injury.”
“Hopefully we can have a great training camp and continuity from there on out,” the point guard said. “We’ll be a much better team this year.
“San Diego is great for us. We’re pretty lucky guys to get to come to a great city and a beautiful part of the world. This is a great facility, too, so it should be a spectacular training camp for us.”
Hill added, “It is camp. It’s tough, but you count the days, count the practices and just try to get to Sunday. At the same time, you try and get a lot accomplished in a short period of time. Today was pretty productive. We have two-a-days, and less than a week from today, we’re playing our first preseason game so we need to make the most of our time. We go over a lot of things. The pace will be fast. Thankfully, a lot of guys have played for Alvin. The other guys will have to learn on the run, but we’re not here to hang out, have fun and enjoy the weather. We’re here to get something done, and today was a good first day.”