Gentry Sets Sights on Specific Goals at Training Camp

Gentry took over as the head coach of the Suns in February of 2009.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
Posted: October 1, 2012

As the Suns tip off the 2012-13 season with just five players returning to the lineup from last year’s team, fans may be curious about the make-up of the new-look Suns. While the faces have certainly changed, Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry insists that his team’s style will remain intact.

The up-tempo style that he’s referring to is the world-renowned offensive system that has captivated the NBA over the better part of a decade. And under Gentry, it’s here to stay.

“We’ll tweak some of the things that we’re doing, but for the most part, we’re still going to be an up-tempo team,” Gentry said. “(Suns point guard) Goran Dragic played here before and did a great job of pushing the basketball when he was here.”

With Dragic running the show, the Suns have added some thoroughbreds to run alongside him in Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson and the re-signed Shannon Brown. Even Luis Scola, not particularly known for being a part of fast-break teams domestically, has made a name for himself playing up-tempo internationally with Argentina.

Noting that every player was a “student” that had to learn the Suns' system at one time or another, Gentry believes his players will catch on quickly.

“It’s a pretty simple system, really,” Gentry explained. “There isn’t anything complicated about it. The big thing is that you have to be in great shape physically.”

Besides focusing on acclimating his players to the quick-strike aspect of the Suns’ attack, Gentry plans on spending the majority of training camp in San Diego emphasizing one other critical component of the game: defense.

“We are going to try to make another jump of where we are in the league,” the Suns Head Coach said. “We went from 29th to 20th last year, and if we can make a jump like that again, we’ll be a very good defensive team.”

So by the end of training camp, Gentry is expecting that his players understand his staff’s defensive philosophies, schemes and rotations. Lastly, Gentry will know that training camp will have been successful when the players understand the team’s identity and culture.

“What we are trying to get across to those guys is what we’re going to be,” Gentry said. “What we want people to say that we are when we walk out of there is that we’re a good, hard-nosed team that’s going to guard the ball, have good rotations and then still be very, very good defensively. We won’t be the refined product at the end of the week, but that’s what we’re going to try to establish while we’re down in San Diego.”

Heading into his fourth training camp as the head coach of the Suns, Gentry understands that the preseason is a process. Like a puzzle, over the next 30 days, the Suns will piece together everything into a larger whole.

And if things go as planned, Gentry envisions a team that could easily implement a 10-man rotation with players battling each other for time at every position, which is a problem every coach wishes to have. Thus far, he’s been very impressed with the effort he’s seen in pick-up games over the last month.

It shows him that his team is already on its way to understanding its identity.

“We like being the underdog,” Gentry said. “It should give you incentive to play harder, work harder and do everything that is necessary.

“What they (the pundits) are saying is that they basically don’t believe in us. We believe in us. The players believe in it and the coaches believe in it, and at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that really matters.”

Any questions or comments for Stefan Swiat? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.