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.”
Speaking of D, not even a doctor’s note was enough to sit last season’s team leader in blocks on Day 1 of camp. Amaré Stoudemire powered through his recent ankle injury to participate in many of the light drills on the day, including jumping rope, working the stationary bike and working on his jump shot.
Consider Steve Nash, Shaquille O’Neal and Grant Hill the “returning seniors” of this class. Now, that is no knock on age. These are the guys who seen it all, been through it all and will be looked to to provide the quintessential leadership expected to help show the younger guys the way.
Along the same vein, they’ll double as Porter’s unofficial teaching assistants. Steve and Shaq will undoubtedly impart some of their NBA knowledge on the NBA freshmen, namely rookies Goran Dragic and Robin Lopez. Also factor in offseason acquisition Matt Barnes and returning veteran Raja Bell, and youngsters like Alando Tucker, Louis Amundson and Sean Singletary will have plenty of experienced talent to model themselves after.
Much like his new team, if the ability to adapt is any indication, Terry Porter should do just fine in Phoenix.
The Suns head coach wrapped up his first Suns training camp session, being cornered by the U of A Wildcats debate team (also known as the women’s volleyball squad). The ladies urged Porter to cancel Wednesday night’s off-site practice so the Suns could attend the Arizona-Arizona State volleyball showdown at McKale Center.
Porter listened patiently to their entire argument, but couldn’t resist re-shaping their young minds when asked, “What’s more important than us beating Arizona State?”
With a smile, he responded, “How about winning the NBA championship?”