20-Second Timeout: December 2011

Follow the team all season long with the 20-Second Timeout blog by Bill Schoening, The Radio Voice of the Spurs for the past 10 years. Bill has over 30 years of play-by-play experience including broadcasting Major League Baseball, the NFL and the NBA. *Timeout Archive: October 10 | November 10 | December 10 | January 11 | February 11 | March 11 |
April 11

An Emphasis on Depth
by Bill Schoening | Dec. 26, 2011

Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter, T.J. Ford
(D. Clarke Evans/Getty Images)
The situation facing the San Antonio Spurs in this compacted 66 game schedule is not very different from what other NBA clubs will be going through. There's always a quote from somebody in the beginning of the season stating that the NBA campaign is a "marathon, and not a sprint." That is only partially true this season because some sprinting will be required during stretches of the schedule. That's when it will be important to get significant contributions from the bench.

The Spurs last season relied on the reserves quite a bit and they usually came through. Matt Bonner led the league in three point field goal percentage, Gary Neal made the all rookie team, and George Hill was a versatile defender who often supplied some scoring punch as well.

This season, the Spurs will look to Bonner and Neal once more (once Gary fully recovers from a preseason appendectomy) but they will also need solid help from second year guard James Anderson, second year center Tiago Splitter, and rookie small forward Kawhi Leonard.

Anderson and Splitter should benefit from being healthier this year and having an NBA season under their belts. Leonard, who has drawn praise from the coaches for his work ethic, is having to learn a lot on the fly, with the shortened preseason and just two exhibition games.

Tony Parker's new backup at point guard, eight year veteran T.J. Ford, will also have a critical role, running the offense while Parker gets some needed rest. This season, perhaps more than any other, role players and reserves will go a long way in determining the success of the 201-2012 Spurs season.

T.J. Ford Happy To Be In San Antonio
by Bill Schoening | Dec. 19, 2011

T.J. Ford
(Bill Baptist/Getty Images)
New Spurs point guard T.J. Ford has always had an infectious smile, but that smile is a little bit brighter these days because for the first time in his eight year NBA career, he is back home in the state of Texas.

A two time Class 5A state champion at Willowridge High outside Houston, and an All American at the University of Texas, Ford doesn't hide his enthusiasm about being back in his home state.

Prior to Saturday's preseason opener in Houston, Ford said,"I am so excited to play back in the state of Texas where I have a lot of friends and family. I feel good, and I'm ready. This past week has been good getting to know the coaching staff, the players, and the plays. Right now my experience is the key. I think that's why they decided to bring me here. Being on different teams and in different systems you have to pick things up fast, so I'm relying on my experience to get through this camp."

Ford also says the culture in the Spurs locker room is a little bit different. He added, "This is the best environment I've ever played in and been a part of since I've been in the NBA. Everybody is well respected. Everybody's resume' speaks for itself, and I am coming in with the attitude of learning and I'm excited they gave me this opportunity to play for the Spurs."

On a ballclub known for quality guys with good attitudes, it looks like Ford will fit right in.