Hornacek Ready to Help

by Jeramie McPeek
VP, Digital
By Steven Koek, Suns.com
Posted: Jan. 24, 2005

When former Suns guard Jeff Hornacek and his family moved back to the Valley this summer, he expressed interest in helping out his old team, if needed, as a shooting consultant. It was a service he provided for the Utah Jazz last season in trying to assist players who were having difficulties getting their shots to drop on a regular basis.

The problem was the Suns got off to the best start in franchise history with the highest scoring average in the league and found themselves among the leaders in shooting percentage from the field. Not exactly the kind of situation that screams for a shooting coach, even one as talented and qualified as Hornacek.

“It’s funny, we were moving and a lot of things were going on,” said the Suns’ 46th overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft. “I told (Head Coach) Mike (D’Antoni) before the start of the season that I would try to get down here, but after the New Year I’ll be available to devote a lot more time. Then the season started and they were on a roll.

“It’s hard for me to come down here when they keep winning and winning. Obviously what’s happened recently, that has nothing to do with me coming down, but it gives me some more comfort knowing I can come down here without screwing them up (laughs).”

Hornacek is someone who can relate to the kind of turnaround the Suns have experienced this season. The lone holdover from arguably the leanest period in team history, the Iowa State product was a major contributor to the club’s revival in the late 1980s and sees some similarities between the running style of this year’s squad and the perennial playoff teams of his era.

“We played the same way, with Kevin (Johnson) pushing the ball and guys just spotting up and hitting shots,” he said. “We were probably better in terms of defensive positioning. However, these guys can get away with not being in the exact right spot because they’re so athletic. They can recover a lot better. We had to be in the right spot. When you look at the guys we had, we were somewhat athletic, but for the most part we just relied on knowing where to be. If these guys keep learning as the season goes on, they’re going to be even better at the end of the year.”

“Horny” is impressed with the way the current coaching staff has handled the successes and challenges this young and talented team has presented the first half of the 2004-05 campaign. Following a 10-year playing career which included a trip to the All-Star Game while in Phoenix and two trips to the NBA Finals with the Jazz, he is ready and able to help out in any way the organization feels he will be of use.

“I’ll try to get down here a little more now,” he said. “But again, they don’t need me (laughs). They’ve got the best record in the NBA and Mike’s doing a great job. You can just tell when you come into the place, the way they handle the scouting reports, how they give speeches to the guys... These guys are doing a great job.”