Hunter Gives Peek Into His Coaching Style
At the exact midpoint of the season, the Suns will move forward and into the second half of the season with a new head coach.
Although new Suns Head Coach Lindsey Hunter only had three days to prepare for his NBA coaching debut, he’s doing everything he can to cram in his new ideas before Phoenix's contest against the Kings on Wednesday. The word out of Suns camp after the first few days under Coach Hunter is that he’s definitely not looking at his watch during practice.
Hunter played for and won an NBA Championship under former Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, who was renowned for putting his teams through four-and-a-half-hour practices. Although the Suns haven’t practiced that much yet, it’s apparent that Hunter has taken a page out of Brown’s playbook.
“I’m trying to get them to understand how hard you have to play and how hard you have to practice,” Hunter said. “Every minute out here, you have to give it your all.
“To build a championship culture, it’s really tough, it’s really hard. Being in those situations, you don’t remember winning it as much as you remember the things you had to go through to get there.”
With his first few practices, Hunter said he spent his time clearing up uncertainties on the defensive end and narrowing down the amount of play calls on the offensive end. Instead of working to the point where his players just “get it,” he plans on working them until “they can’t forget.”
Hunter believes practice isn’t fun until you string together a bunch of wins. Once a team has reached that point, practice becomes more like a game.
In these practices, Hunter said that his main point of emphasis has been attempting to create an identity with his new team.
“We want to be tough,” Hunter said. “We want to be serious and disciplined.”
Unfortunately for Hunter, his club will be tested mightily over the next couple of weeks. After playing in Sacramento tomorrow, the Suns will face the Clippers, Spurs, Mavs, Lakers, Warriors and Grizzlies.
And Hunter isn’t deluding himself about the challenge of the schedule.
“I understand,” he said. “I remain humble, work hard, try to earn everything that you’ve got and give it 110 percent out here. And that’s what we have to stand for.”
Stylistically, Hunter is hoping to increase the tempo on offense, especially for the post players. He would also like to see the offense work from the inside out to the perimeter.
“I think the biggest difference that you’ll notice is that we’ll have our bigs running to the rim,” Hunter said. "I told those guys that if you run to the rim and you don’t get the ball, then it’s my job to tell them to throw it to you.”
That bodes well for Suns center Marcin Gortat, who can testify to the changes he's seen under Hunter.
“We’re definitely running more and we’re definitely a running team,” Gortat said. “We changed a few details in our offense. We’re going to do rim-runs for the big men, and I guess we’re going to set less screen-and-rolls and we’re going to try to run basic stuff like hard cuts, seal people in the paint and do the right thing.”
The Suns big man said that Hunter only added a couple of new offensive sets and divided his team evenly between focusing on offense and defense. Thus far, the “Polish Hammer” likes what he sees.
“That’s how I grew up in the NBA,” Gortat said, “being in a great system like with the Orlando Magic and (former Magic Head Coach) Stan Van Gundy. Everything was sharp, everything was disciplined, everything on time and everybody was doing it the right way. We didn’t fool around or joke around.”
Hopefully there will plenty of time for that after Hunter’s first coaching win in Sacramento on Wednesday.
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