Hunter’s Basketball Tree Sports Deep Roots

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Starting in high school, Suns Head Coach Lindsey Hunter has been influenced by some of the game’s greatest coaches of all-time. Besides playing under such NBA luminaries as Doug Collins, Larry Brown, Lenny Wilkens and Phil Jackson, Hunter also was coached by some outstanding high school and college coaches. Check out what he took from them in the following blog.

HIGH SCHOOL

Coach: Orsmond Jordan Jr. was Hunter’s high school coach at Murrah High School in Jackson, Mississippi. In Jordan’s storied career, he coached three McDonald’s All-Americans, eight future NBA players, won four state championships and even one national title before being named to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. The two still talk to this day.

What he learned: “I really learned a lot from him,” Hunter recalled. “He was really tough on all of the point guards. I still talk with him to this day. He instilled the discipline in how to run a ball club in me.”

COLLEGE

Coach: Hunter first signed to play at Alcorn St. for Dave Whitney, who is a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Whitney captured 12 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) titles and led the first team from a historically black university to an NCAA tournament game victory.

What he learned: “He really enhancing my knowledge about the game,” Hunter said. “He coached so many great players and he instilled a lot of that knowledge in me.”

Coach: Hunter later transferred to Jackson St. to play for Andy Stoglin, who was named the SWAC’s Coach of the Year three times in his career. He also coached internationally and in the D-League.

What he learned: “I learned what it was like to be a basketball junkie,” the Suns first-year coach said.

NBA
Coach: Hunter was drafted in 1993 by the Pistons, who named Doug Collins the franchise’s head coach in 1995. Collins, who was a former All-Star as a player and renowned broadcaster, is currently the head coach of the Sixers.

What he learned: “I was able to see the genius of him and his play calls,” Hunter said. “He always put guys in a position to succeed.”

Coach: In one season with the Lakers, Hunter played under Hall of Famer Phil Jackson and captured a championship in 2002. The “Zen Master” has won more titles as an NBA head coach than anyone in the history of the game.

What he learned: “I learned how he dealt with personalities,” Hunter said. “He coached arguably the greatest players in the NBA and had to deal with all of their personalities to be successful. It’s great to be able do that.”

Coach: In one season with the Bucks, Hunter received the tutelage of George Karl, who has amassed over 1,000 wins in his coaching career in the NBA. Only three coaches have a better winning percentage than Karl all-time.

“George had almost a magical approach about basketball,” he said. “He’s real different with his philosophies and how he ran his ball clubs. There were times when we would play where he would come out and tell us, ‘I want one-dribble pass shots, I want around-the-back passes, I want all of that stuff.’ I was like, ‘What?’ But it worked! He was different, but we were successful with it.”

Coach: Of all of his past coaches, Hunter stated that Larry Brown was the coach whose style he would like to emulate the most. Brown, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and won both an NCAA and NBA Championships, captured that NBA title with Hunter in 2004 as a head coach of the Pistons.

What he learned: “It didn’t matter who you were, he coached everybody from the first to the 15th man,” Hunter said. “He made the team play the right way because the fundamental principles of basketball haven’t changed. So you always play it the way it’s supposed to be played.”

Suns-Mavs Game Day Breakdown

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Suns Swingman’s Contributions Prove Undefinable

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P.J. Tucker is not a statistic.

Nor he will be defined by one. Despite all of the statistical analysis that is pervasive in professional sports today, some players’ contributions aren’t quantifiable.

Numbers are all the rage in sports these days. ESPN’s stat expert John Hollinger became a front office executive with the Grizzlies.

The movie “Moneyball,” a film about how the Oakland A’s used statisitcal analysis to make their team more competitive, became a blockbuster hit last year. MIT’s Sloan Sports Analystics Conference has a lineup of speakers that feature the “who’s who” in professional sports.

And now, every front office in the NBA is poring over box scores to figure out how its team can be better. But if teams do just that, they’d be missing out on the rugged Suns swingman.

Tucker doesn’t light up the stat sheets. He’s only averaging 5.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 19 minutes a night.

However, he is shooting a respectable 48 percent from the floor and 36 percent from behind the arc. But if you are only going to look at box scores, you’ll have to look deeper.

On this current road trip, he held Bucks leading-scorer Monta Ellis to 5-of-19 shooting and five turnovers. The next night, Tucker limited Celtics leading scorer Paul Pierce to seven points on 3-of-10 shooting from the floor and two turnovers.

Having only played in 17 games in the NBA before this season, he has now inherited the challenge of defending the toughest perimeter opponent night-in and night-out.

“P.J. gives us a presence out there that we really need from a defensive standpoint,” Suns head coach Alvin Gentry said. “I also think that he comes up with some loose balls and makes plays that help you win games.”

Like Gentry alluded to, beyond his defense, there is a raw intensity to Tucker that is palpable on the court. When he enters the game, he raises the level of energy on the floor and changes the momentum.

It is a contribution that isn’t measureable. When Tucker gets into the shorts of the opposing team’s best player, strips him of the ball and creates a fast break that leads to a dunk, it only shows up as a steal and two points in the box score.

But for everyone watching live, a play like that is worth far more than two points. And as the season marches on, the Suns are going to rely on Tucker to change the tide of games with his fearless play and non-stop hustle.

But it’s just one of those things you have to see in person to appreciate.

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Time: The Suns host the Jazz tonight at 7 at US Airways Center. [Read more...]

Dining Out With Dudley

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In December of 2012, Jared Dudley had his most productive month of his career. The Suns swingman averaged a career-high 15.5 points for the month, while shooting lights out along the way.

In fact, only two other guards (the Spurs’ Tony Parker and the Heat’s Dwyane Wade) shot better from the floor in December. Dudley, who shot 53 percent from the field in December, drilled a league-high 62 percent from inside the arc to boot.

“Shooting is all about concentration, confidence, working on my game in the summertime, taking what’s available to me and playing within myself,” Dudley said. “Obviously I didn’t shoot the ball as well early on. I was just trying to get back in game rhythm and take game shots, but I think it just takes me a while to feel out the offense, the roles of certain people and when I went to the bench I caught my rhythm.”

That could be it, or maybe it’s what he’s eating. The Arizona Republic just wrote an in-depth piece on where the 6-7, 225-pound small forward enjoys to grub.

“If I want a sandwich I’m definitely a Jersey Mike’s guy,” Dudley said. “If I want a steak, I’m going to City Hall. If I’m doing sushi, I usually do Sapporo’s or Sushi Roku.”

To read more about JD’s favorite spots around the Valley, click here.

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Time: The Suns host the Sixers tonight at 7 at US Airways Center. [Read more...]

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