By Marc Iavaroni, Suns Assistant Coach (as told to John Hareas)
Coach Iavaroni sees a number of keys to the game.
Keys to Game
Stop Pick and Rolls and David Hawkins. I think you’re going to see a lot of pick and rolls like most teams are doing right now. They are going to try to get their No. 1 player, David Hawkins, guard, who is American, a lot of shots whether it’s off of staggers, pin downs, or pick and rolls. They want the ball in his hands, he’ll also isolate. He’s a coast-to-coast player. So he’s their No. 1 driving force. He’s a pure scorer. He can shoot and he just finds a way to put the ball in the basket.
Post Ups & Dejan Bodiroga. They’ll definitely post up guys such as Dejan Bodiroga, the Serbian forward, who everybody remembers from the World Championship in Indianapolis in 2002. He’s an excellent European player. Probably could have played in the States, just never made it over. He just knows all of the tricks of the trade. He’s a very smart player posting up. He can pick and pop. He’s another European player who can shoot and they’ll run a lot of the offense run through him.
Keep Off Glass. The style of play is very physical in Europe. There will be a lot of things that won’t be called off the ball, even on the ball when people drive to the basket. There will be a lot of contact. We saw that the other day in the scrimmage against ourselves with the Italian referees officiating. In the States, you would say that’s a normal thing of getting a call when you’re hit in midair but in Europe, they let it go. I think it’s a real key with the physical play that that we stay poised and we expect that a lot of calls will be missed.
Suns Bench Rotation. We would like to see how our rotations are going to go such as having Marcus Banks come off the bench for Steve Nash, having James Jones off the bench and see how well Jumaine Jones, Sean Marks and Eric Piatkowski do when they come in for the first time. We want to see how the new guys look and see how much they are picking up under the pressure of the game and under the bright lights.
As a team, we want to just keep “getting it” a little bit more. We want to see if we can run but not throw the ball all over the place. We were first in the league last season in not turning the ball over because we got the ball and shot it, we didn’t throw it all over the gym. Defensively, we have to take a little more individual accountability for keeping our man in front of us and making sure that we trust our teammates behind us, that if we do get beat that they’ll come over and help and that we’ll keep working until we get a hand up and they will get an outside shot but we do want to get a hand up. We don’t want people going to the basket on us.
Control Tempo. We do want to control the tempo of the game. That’s something we have to assert. We’ve done it all last year. At the same time when the game slows down in the fourth quarter and the game gets more conservative, we have to come up with the big stops.
There is a little extra sauce on this one. We’re not in the States. We’ve already played our orange and white game and now we’re into the preseason and regardless of whom we are playing, we come with an attitude of we’re here to win the game and to play our best and play our sharpest and to not to steps backwards. It’s just a little more flavorful because we’re in Rome and there are some distractions yet everyone who walks on the floor is focused and professional. The No. 1 thing we want to do is what we’ve been practicing.