Spurs Mailbag: Coach Pop Answers Your Questions (May 2010)

Coach Pop answers your questions during this fourth edition (May 2010) of Coach Pop's Mailbag.

Location: San Antonio
Question: With Timmy obviously still the foundation, Manu with a new deal and Tony being young and the future, is the missing piece(s) outside shooting (adding a couple pure shooters) or is it something else?

Gregg Popovich: We have to have more people play better come playoff time. If you look at what the Celtics are doing right now, they have their Big Three playing very well and on top of that Rondo is playing like an All-Star, Tony Allen and Rasheed Wallace are playing well coming off the bench. So you look at that and you have six guys who are playing very well and come playoff time that’s basically what it’s all about.

You can call it shooting or defense or this or that, but people have to play well. That’s how Boston beat Cleveland. Cleveland didn’t have very many playing well night after night and Boston had that. We’ve had that same thing when we’ve won championships, so that’s really the bottom line more than anything else.

Wenjo Lapez
Location: Singapore
Question: What do you normally do during the off-season aside from any basketball item?

GP: Most of the summer is taken up with basketball because of the draft, summer league and preparation for the following year. August is usually the “down” time for most everyone. That’s when I get away for a week or two and try to take a trip someplace.

Brian D.
Location: SA
Question: What do you see as the next step for DeJuan Blair's development this off-season?

GP: We want him to work mostly on shooting. If he can get that mid-range jumper down with his foot speed and ability to drive the basketball it would make him a much more difficult cover. His shooting touch is going to be a real priority over the summer.

Jonathan Galpern
Location: Austin
Question: What is the current status of Tiago Splitter, should we expect him to be in a Spurs uniform next season?

GP: At this point we’re trying to figure out who we want to add to the team and those talks are going on right now, so we don’t know exactly what direction we’re going to take. Tiago Splitter obviously is somebody we drafted and still feel is a very good player. In fact he won an award for being the MVP of his league over there in Spain so he is high on our list, but we’re still not exactly sure at what point he is going to come over.

Location: Richmond
Question: Coach Pop a lot of reports have come out about Tony Parker being the subject of trade rumors. Tony says he wants to stay and his heart is in San Antonio and RC said the team wants to keep Tony for a long time and all the speculation is coming from outside the organization. What are your thoughts on the situation?

GP: I don’t pay any attention to it. Everybody has to have stories. If we win a championship or don’t win a championship I don’t listen to any of the stories afterwards because there are people who need to write stuff. It’s meaningless.

Location: Elyria, Ohio
Question: I am 15 years of age and am in 9th grade. I was cut from the freshman basketball team for a reason that I do not know of, and I feel that I should have been on the team. I like to say that I am an excellent defender who likes to get on the floor. But from your stand point, what things can I work on to get better for the 10th grade year? Thank you.

GP: I don’t know what your skills are since I’ve never seen you play but the most important thing is to continue to work on your game. Try to go to a couple of camps during the summer so you can work on some skills along with your defense and just not give up. You know that’s happened to a lot of us, I was cut during my sophomore year in high school. I ended up being the captain of the team my senior year so it can happen.

It could be just a maturity thing, you’re going to get your growth spurt coming up and maybe they had too many people at your position. Who knows why. I might ask the coach what you can do to improve and what he didn’t like about your game and then try to take care of that this summer. Just keep your passion for the game and keep working on it.

Eleanor Jordan
Location: Ocean Springs, MS
Question: Pop I love your tongue in cheek sense of humor. How do you manage to keep a straight face in view of some of these ridiculous questions you are asked by the media on camera?

GP: (laughs) Well you know you have to try and have some fun. There are a lot of guys that are in the media that really are fun, believe it or not, and they enjoy the banter back and forth. It can be humorous in a lot of different ways so in some ways I look forward to it. If there is a question that doesn’t make much sense it’s more enjoyable to have fun with it than just repeat the same old trite answers. I guess it’s just part of my personality.

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Question: What would you like to continue from this 09/10 season into next one, and what would change?

GP: I just think that some people have to step up and play better. I think we need to prop up our bench. That is really something that has to be a priority. We have to have people who are coming off the bench that can contribute so that’s really what we’re looking at.

The best thing about our team was the way they stuck together even though it took a long time. There were a lot of ups and downs during the season and they finally did pull together and play as a really solid group down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs. In the second round we met a team that was a difficult matchup for us, that happens at times, they played better and ended up being the better team.

George H.
Location: Converse
Question: Hey Pop now that the season is over, do you watch the rest of the playoff games through the Finals or do you try to escape basketball all together for a few weeks? Who do you think will win it all since the Spurs have been eliminated?

GP: No I grudgingly watch because there is always something to pick up or learn about a team for the following season or something you really like that someone is doing. In the end I think it’s positive to watch even though it’s difficult to do. I never give favorites, once we’re eliminated I don’t really care who wins, I just watch to see if I can learn something.

Location: Cibolo
Question: Who was your favorite basketball player growing up? On the same note, who was your favorite coach and why?

GP: Growing up my favorite player was John Havlicek. I really enjoyed the way he played. He was never stopped at either end of the court. He was constantly moving, very unselfish, gave everything he had every game. He was just a great teammate with all the guys on his team and set a great example for everybody with everything he did. He was my favorite player.

Coaching wise I never really looked at the coaches that much I just looked to the players.

Location: Schertz, TX
Question: Hi Coach Pop! Do you ever see signs fans hold up during a game? Because I always have one that reads, "WE

GP: (laughs) I’m sorry to say that I don’t. I get pretty focused out there and don’t really take the time to look up in the stands and read anything. I apologize for that, but I appreciate the sentiment.

Location: UK
Question: Hello Coach Popovich, a lot was made of the team changing the practice schedule to having more rest and recovery. Do you think this was successful, also is it something you look to continue next season? Thanks!

GP: Well you never really know if something is successful because it’s hard to measure. But it did work out well in the sense that I thought we never seemed to be “unrested,” and the practice time in the afternoons seemed to work out well as far as having everybody ready and mentally ready to practice. I think we probably will continue it next year.

Lee Richard
Location: San Antonio
Question: What is your favorite type of music?

GP: I’m pretty eclectic depending on mood, but I’d have to say probably overall Rhythm and Blues or Sixties Rock and Roll.

Bob O.
Location: Kerrville
Question: Pop how does your role change and what do you do to prepare for the upcoming draft in June?

GP: We all need to take time to get smarter because we don’t know the players like R.C. (Buford) and the management guys – R.C., Dennis (Lindsey) and Dell (Demps). They spend a lot of time getting us up to date. We have a lot of films available, we have workouts quite often with the possible draft selections coming into the gym and doing workouts with them so we can formulate ideas on what we want. So we just meet as a staff, coaches and managers together, we try to come up with what would be our top picks and put that together with what we might want to do in free agency or trade-wise. We try to figure out all the possible combinations and go from there.