Rodney Stuckey: Ready to Compete
LAS VEGAS, July 9, 2007 -- Trailing by six entering the final period, Pistons summer league coach Terry Porter made a game-changing adjustment. He decided to put the ball in Rodney Stuckey’s hands and let him use his athleticism to make plays.
The first-round pick out of Eastern Washington rewarded Porter’s confidence by scoring 11 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter to help Detroit rally past Memphis, 80-78, in Day 4 action inside Cox Pavilion.
Stuckey’s point total wasn’t the highest by a player in the tournament, but it may have been the most impressive. Although he hit the occasional jumper, the majority of his points came on stop-me-if-you-can drives down the lane.
And judging by the results, it was obvious that the Grizzlies didn’t have an answer for the point guard.
You know how in football there are some running backs that run though an opponent rather than try to make them miss? Watching Stuckey with the ball in his hands is reminiscent of that.
While protecting the rock, he rumbles down the lane, takes the bump from his opponent and finishes at the rim.
“I’ve been aggressive my entire life,” Stuckey said. “I love to get hit by my defender. I believe in going hard and having no fear.”
He drained 9-of-16 shots from the field and was a perfect 9-for-9 from the free-throw line. He also had two assists and two steals in 30 minutes of play.
“I’m just trying to help my team,” Stuckey said. “Coach told me to go to the basket and that is what I did. I was sluggish in our first game and I had too many turnovers. It had been a longtime since I played five-on-five. I had been playing a lot of one-on-one and two-on-two.”
Porter gave Stuckey his props.
“He was real aggressive turning the corner,” Porter said. “I told him to look for his shot and he made them.”
Obviously in Detroit the backcourt of Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups are the present. Pistons’ fans got a glimpse of the future when Stuckey teamed with fellow first rounder Arron Afflalo.
Afflalo, a former UCLA standout, played well in flashes, scoring 11 points and grabbing five rebounds.
“I think they are trying to get a feel for one another,” Porter said. “It is going to take them some time to get use to playing together.”
While Stuckey left his biggest impression on the offensive end, he showed he is no slouch defensively. He was effective in containing Memphis guard Mike Conley Jr.
“He is real quick,” said Stuckey about Conley. “I gapped him a little and tried to contest his shot.”
Porter said that Stuckey's defense was one of the key’s to Detroit’s victory.
“Stuckey played Conley well,” Porter said. “Conley is very fast. Stuckey did a good job on him and we didn’t get killed on penetration.”