A New Club, New Opportunities for Suns' Turkoglu
Posted: Oct. 1, 2010
One year removed from being one of the most highly sought-after free agents on the market, expect Hedo Turkoglu to become one of the Suns’ frequently sought-after go-to guys on the court this upcoming season.
“A new start, a new challenge” the forward said. “No matter what you did in the past, good or bad, it’s a new year. Even though I didn’t have a good year last year, it doesn’t matter. Even if I had a good year, I’d still have to play as hard as I can and keep improving.
“I just continue to try and learn the system here and try to learn playing with my teammates. I want to fit in the right way and fit in the rotation.”
Turkoglu has wasted little time in his first Suns training camp, showing glimpses of the skill sets that made him the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2008 with Orlando.
“This is just my first few days playing with these guys,” the 11-year veteran said, “so I just need to find the rotation, find the right spot, run on the break and learn the plays. So far it’s been good. It’ll be much better when I get to know the players and where they like to catch the ball throughout the game. I just need to keep up with those guys, and hopefully I’ll get some open shots, too.”
In addition to his ability to find the bottom of the basket on offense, his defensive role with the Suns isn’t exactly new to the Istanbul, Turkey, native, either. He’s matched up against fours before, but only on a limited basis.
“I was doing it before, but in short periods of time,” Turkoglu said. “There are always new challenges when you come to a new team. This is a big challenge for me that I have to work on, and help me become more physical. I just have to fight and do my best.
“There will be teamwork involved, so I know I will get a lot of that help. I’ll be in a situation where I still have to do my best on one-on-one and try to do the things that will help my job and help the team, too. I have to work a little harder than I was before and try to fight and get in front of them. Don’t let them catch the ball easily. That’ll cause me trouble. Those are the little things I have to work on. Hopefully, I’ll be good enough to help the team.”
Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry certainly has no concerns on the subject.
“Hedo will be fine,” he said. “There are certain fours nobody handles in the league. I love when somebody says, ‘How will you guys guard Dirk Nowitzki?’ The last time I checked, no one else could guard him either. In those situations, we’ll do the best we can. My philosophy has always been, ‘They have to guard him on the other end of the floor.’ Sometimes that’s the best defense. The team that scores the most points wins the game. We were the best defensive team 62 times last year.”
No. 19 also picks up “one of the greatest point guards” he says he’s played with in his career, in the form of Steve Nash.
“He will help my job a lot,” Turkoglu said of the two-time NBA MVP. “If I run with him and be in the right spot, all I have to do is learn those things at camp, and my job will be easy. I’m not a guy who wants the ball in his hands to shoot all the time. It was just something I was used to. In Orlando, they would go through me to make plays. Steve has been doing that for years. I know how many times he’s helped the players around him become great players. I hope I’ll be one of them.”
After an intense night practice Thursday night, the traditional team-only dinner had a much subdued feeling, meaning not even putting the rookies through their paces with a good-natured night of hazing, including costume wearing and singing. Gani Lawal was a Conehead, while Matt Janning, Zabian Dowdell and Garret Siler all donned Star Trek Klingon headdresses.
“It was the worst rookie hazing,” Channing Frye said. “Everyone was so doggone tired. We were like, ‘Eh, put this on.’”
The team may give it another shot later in the preseason.
Saturday’s scrimmage at the RIMAC Arena will be broken up into four 10-minute quarters with all players tentatively slated to suit up.
“I’m not sure if we’re ready to play 12 minute-quarters,” Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “I’m not sure we’re ready to play 10. We’ll see where we are and what’s going on.”