Welcome to Suns 101. Now take your seats…

School was in session Tuesday at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Admittedly, that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. It is a college, after all.

But the only classroom the Suns were concerned with was situated on the McKale Center hardwood, where the team officially tipped off training camp.

With their first test slated for their season opener in San Antonio on October 29, that gives Phoenix just under a month to gear up for the new NBA year.

That’s not to say the Suns need a ton of instruction (remember, they have had some level of success over the last few years), but they do need to be brought up to speed on the Terry Porter way. While a lot of preseason pundits have predicted a new focus on defense this upcoming season, consider this. After the team’s initial “1-2-3 Suns” chant to break practice Tuesday, the new Suns head coach prompted a verbal addendum, “1-2-3 Defense.” [Read more...]

Barnes' Blog Debut

Training camp is here and I can’t wait to get things started. There is a lot of anxiety and tension as we figure out what this team has to offer, but everyone is ready to implement the new system and see what we’ve got.

The first day of camp was a lot of pictures, a lot of talking to reporters and getting everyone’s opinion on how the season is going to go. I was asked a lot of questions about how excited I am to be here and how I think I’ll fit into the system. As I’ve told everyone, I think it will be pretty easy to go from Golden State to Phoenix. They were the two highest scoring teams last season, so hopefully it will be a smooth transition. [Read more...]

A Camping Veteran

Media Day 2008 is in the books and Training Camp is officially underway.

This year’s Media Day on the practice court felt a lot different than last season’s as a rookie. I was more relaxed and more comfortable because I knew what to expect. I still came in with a lot of energy and because I’m so much more accustomed to speaking with the media, I was able to relax a little bit more. Best of all, I wasn’t the butt of all the vets’ jokes like I was last season. This year I was even able to joke around with some of the young guys myself.

Speaking of, this year’s crop of Suns rookies have been asking me a lot of questions. I understand where they’re coming from. It’s tough coming into this league not knowing what to anticipate. I remember last year at Media Day kind of feeling in awe of everything, a bit in shock that I was attending my first NBA function. So I’ve been giving as much advice to the guys as I can, both good and bad. I’ve probably scared them a little bit more than anything else though. [Read more...]

Suns chances good this season

“Who can look into the seeds of time and see which will grow and which will not?” Shakespeare complained in one of his crankier moods.

Well, sports bloggers, that’s who!

So, without further ado, the seeds envelope please.

Well, okay, a little more ado. A year ago at this time the word to the wise for the excited citizenry of Planet Orange was, “Calm down.” This year it’s “Cheer up.” [Read more...]

The Doggiest of Dog Days

 

Barry Gossage/NBAE Photos

Barry Gossage/NBAE Photos

Shouldn’t baseball be over by now? I’m tired of pennant races that don’t involve actual pennants. I’m bored with hearing about the Yankees and the Red Sox as if they were the US and Russia during the Cold War and not a single other team – or country – matters. I’m sick of the speculation over whether this will finally be the year the Cubs win a World Series…Long streaks of championship futility only matter to me if we’re talking about the Suns finally bringing home the big trophy. I’m exhausted by trade deadlines and endless commentary over whether or not the acquisition of this middle reliever/fifth inning specialist will make the difference for Houston, trying to climb from fourth place to third, or whatever.

Isn’t it time to wrap up football as well? I say a final decision on whatever it is Brett Favre is going through should just be declared the Super Bowl for the year, the winner is either Favre or the Packers, and we all just forget the season and move right along. Honestly, I haven’t seen this many people so excited over the start of camp since my classmates hit the last day of school in fifth grade. [Read more...]

Welcome, Matt!

Josh Greene / Suns.com Photos

 

When last season ended with that loss to San Antonio, and Mike D’Antoni departed for Gotham, it was hard to be optimistic.

All the talk was about the Suns’ aging core, the “failure” of the trade for Shaquille O’Neal, and the futility of the run-and-gun system in the playoffs. Sourpusses (like me) predicted a downturn in fortune and some years of rebuilding. After all, how much could the team change?

Well.

Step One, hire Terry Porter as Head Coach. A pro’s pro as a player, he’s got the respect of everyone on the team. Heck, after all the times he tortured the Suns in the playoffs as a member of the Portland Trailblazers, I certainly respect him. He knows defense, he knows offense. He can teach. And he’s committed to playing a deep rotation. [Read more...]

Suns Eclipsed by Knicks

Daniel Banks/Suns.com

Daniel Banks/Suns.com

In a surreal matinee affair, a Igor Kokoskov-coached Phoenix squad took on a Phil Weber-led New York team that saw the Suns come up short in an 85-80 defeat.

 

So while former Suns assistant coach Weber and former Suns assistant Dan D’Antoni exchanged pleasantries with Suns assistants Dan Majerle and Kokoscov before the game, the game proved to be a battle. The contest was tight all along, heading all the way into the final seconds before the victor was decided.

Guard DJ Strawberry had an opportunity to tie the game with less than 10 seconds remaining, but his 3-point attempt was blocked by Knicks guard Mardy Collins. New York grabbed the loose ball before icing the game on two free throws by Wilson Chandler. The Knicks’ swingman finished the contest with 31 points.

However, the bright side of the story for the Suns was the play of “Big Three.” [Read more...]

First Impresssions

Daniel Banks/Suns.com

Daniel Banks/Suns.com

As I sat perched behind the Suns’ NBA Summer League Head Coach Igor Kokoscov at the scorer’s table, I realized that while this may seem like a working for vacation for myself, there are a lot of people with the Suns whose work-year is well underway.

 

Tell the young players attempting to make the Suns’ roster that the summer is the time for relaxing. Or tell the new coaching staff, who is trying to piece together their first team in the Valley of the Sun. Or how about second-year men DJ Strawberry and Alando Tucker? Both are looking to build upon their rookie seasons and crack a rotation filled with veteran stars.

The same could be said for rookie Robin Lopez, who along with the two veterans, led Phoenix to 98-74 victory over the Spurs on Thursday. After catching the Suns’ first game on TV and watching Lopez in tonight’s contest against San Antonio, it’s already fair to say that the young center has made his presence felt. [Read more...]

Summer in Phoenix Great for Tucker So Far

Noah Graham / Getty Images

DJ and I were at the US Airways Center again today, working on a few things with new assistant coach “Thunder” Dan Majerle. Dan will be our summer league coach in Vegas later this month and has been great to work with. He busts our chops a little bit, but he’s making sure we’re ready and we’ve all just been having a lot of fun on the court together.

I’ve talked to pretty much all the guys on the team, most of who are away doing things with their wives and kids. DJ and I are the youngest so we’ve just stayed here in Phoenix for the most part working on our games. Everybody’s excited though and looking forward to working with new head coach Terry Porter and his staff. I wish the best for Mike D’Antoni in New York, but believe change provides opportunity and that’s what I’m preparing myself for right now. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the fact that this coaching staff has set the bar very high for us and expect nothing but the best results. [Read more...]

Kerr Discusses the 2008 Phoenix Suns Draft

 Steve Kerr enjoys the moment after Robin Lopez was drafted by the Suns. (Jeramie McPeek/Suns.com)

First of all, we are thrilled with what transpired yesterday in the draft. Everything turned out exactly as we’d hoped. After contemplating various scenarios in which we might have added a pick or moved up in the first round, we felt strongly that we were best off keeping our team intact and simply adding our first and second round choices. We felt that if things played out for us, we might be able to add two players who could help us accomplish our goal going into yesterday: to find players who can help us sustain our recent success, but who can also be building blocks for the future. Only time will tell, of course, but we’re confident we have two new players who will help us make a successful transition to a new era.

Robin Lopez is someone who will help us right away. It’s rare to find an active 7 footer who can run and defend, so we felt fortunate that he fell to us at 15. Robin will provide something we don’t have – a versatile big guy who can get out on the perimeter to defend screen and rolls, but who also has the size and mentality to protect the rim. He’s still raw offensively, but he has a decent touch on a 15 foot jump shot and he is very good at keeping balls alive and scoring on offensive rebounds. Robin will complement Shaq and Amare nicely because he plays away from the ball, preferring to do a lot of dirty work. Terry Porter expects him to contribute right away, so our depth will be greatly enhanced. Robin told us a month ago when we worked him out that he was dying to come to Phoenix, so he got his wish – as did we. This is going to be a great fit. [Read more...]