Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
At least that was the lesson I was taught as a child. Which is probably why I now write about sports for a living rather than playing professionally (that or genetics).
It’s also a lesson Head Coach Alvin Gentry is taking to heart this preseason. With more time between the Suns’ second and third preseason games than between Will Smith movies — OK, really it is just five days — it has given the team ample opportunity to run two-hour practices on a regular basis. It’s an occurrence that rarely happened during the abbreviated 2011-12 season. But is that practice time more valuable than game experience?
“Right now a two-hour practice is more beneficial,” Gentry explained. “We love the games because it gives you more of the scale to gauge yourself by. But just to be able to break it down and work on things in practice is pretty good. We got the best of both worlds.”
So we’re talking about practice? Not a game, not a game, but practice? Former NBA guard Allen Iverson would be quite confused by Gentry’s stance, but when you hear the coach’s reasoning, it makes perfect sense.
“We basically have to teach a new system to seven new guys,” he said after practice Monday. “Really, if you count Sebastian (Telfair), who has never really been in a training camp and Shannon Brown, who hasn’t either… It’s one of those deals where it benefits everyone. We’ve broken down the system and what we’re trying to get accomplished.”
Although fans may have been confused with why the Suns have had such a long hiatus between preseason contests while other NBA teams have been playing at a more frenetic pace, it was all done by design. With so many new faces, those hours on the practice court can pay off by building chemistry and learning a system that is new to even the coaching staff. The front office, and a very familiar name to fans, realized this when putting together the schedule.
It’s something Gentry truly appreciates.
“Mark West did a good job of putting the schedule together,” the coach acknowledged. “When the preseason is over he did a really good job of giving us four or five days before we play, too.”
So yes, for your Phoenix Suns, practice will make perfect, or at least help perfect things. But games won’t be all that bad for the team either. They’re just a little more spaced out than usual.