‘Savvy vet’ Udrih has Pistons confident he’s ready for opener on short notice
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TORONTO – When you want to understand how Beno Udrih, a point guard with one practice under his belt, will perform for the Pistons in tonight’s season opener there is one obvious resource to tap: Ish Smith, who is responsible for the business health of several moving companies.
And Smith, on his 10th NBA team with the Pistons, says not to worry about Udrih.
“He’s a vet. He’s a savvy vet,” Smith said after today’s walk-through ahead of the 7:30 p.m. tipoff at Air Canada Centre against the team that won a franchise-high 56 games last season before losing in the conference finals to Cleveland. “Beno’s been in the league … what is this? Twelve years? Thirteen years? So this is easy. He’s already coming in, fitting in. He’s played with Tobias (Harris), he’s played with Jon (Leuer), so he’s a savvy vet. He knows what he’s doing.”
How savvy? Well, ask Smith if Udrih has pulled him aside to pick his brains and Smith laughs.
“You know what? He’s more or less helped me with different things. ‘Back up a little on some passes’ when we’re doing some specific stuff, on pick and rolls being aggressive, just different stuff like that,” Smith said. “He’s most definitely come in and been comfortable.”
Udrih, claimed off waivers by the Pistons late Monday afternoon, got to Detroit later that night from Miami after being let go by the Heat and took his physical early Tuesday morning before jumping into practice. Van Gundy doesn’t think the playbook will be very limited despite the short turnaround for Udrih tonight against the Raptors.
“He’s picked up the stuff easily enough,” Van Gundy said. “I just told him if I call something he isn’t familiar with, just let me know and I’ll change the call. But I think it’ll actually be fairly smooth. He’s a really, really smart guy and really was professional about this whole thing. There’s not much, actually, I couldn’t call, I don’t think.”
One of the players Udrih will be running with on Van Gundy’s second unit, Jon Leuer, also expects a seamless transition for the player who’ll serve as backup point guard for as long as it takes Reggie Jackson to return from a bout of left knee tendinosis.
“He’s just a very smart, high IQ player,” said Leuer, Udrih’s teammate in both Milwaukee and Memphis. “Offensively, he can really orchestrate the offense and he’s a threat to score every time he’s in the pick and roll. His mid-range jumper is lethal. And he’s also a good facilitator, just understands the game. He really brings a lot offensively.”