Mid-Training Camp Notebook

By Stefan Swiat, Suns.comPosted: Dec. 13, 2011

The Suns have reached the midpoint of training camp and the roster continues to transform, with one player being subtracted and another being added earlier today.

Zabian Dowdell, who earned a spot on last year’s roster, was waived early Tuesday morning after missing all of training camp with pain underneath his kneecap. It was a tough break for Dowdell, who spent the past two NBA Las Vegas Summer Leagues with the Suns and actually cracked the rotation for a few games last season.

However, the Suns needed to bolster that backup point guard spot, so they brought in Ronnie Price, who played for Utah the last two seasons. The 6-2 guard is entering his seventh season in the NBA, and is best-known to some Suns.com writers for this insane dunk over Carlos Boozer.

Holding career averages of 3.6 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists, Price will battle Sebastian Telfair for the role of Steve Nash’s backup.

“Adding Ronnie Price to the mix doesn’t do anything other than make it a lot more intense,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “Defensively, he’ll get after you.”

Price, who received the call that he was coming to Phoenix late last night, is excited to be in the Valley of the Sun.

“In my NBA career, I haven’t really had the chance to get up and down the floor like the way these guys do and I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” Price said.

He went on to say, “First of all, I’m a defensive-minded player. I let my defense handle itself. I can guard the 1 and the 2 and it’s something I enjoy doing.”

Scrimmage Streamed

On Wednesday, the Suns are taking off the morning practice to prepare for an intra-squad scrimmage later on in the evening. The team will be divided up as sponsors, ownership, some media and a select group of season-ticket holders will get a sneak peak at the 2011-12 Suns.

The game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. and can be seen via live stream on Suns.com.

Nothing but Heart

During training camp this year, the Suns training staff is monitoring the heart beats of the Suns players to see how they’re pulse is reacting during playing situations. The staff is examining data provided by Paul Roberts, who is providing the Suns with demo of how training can affect the players physiologically.

Roberts started the week by putting heart monitors on Nash and center Robin Lopez. After a couple of days, he placed monitors on three other players.

“What we’re doing right now is analyzing the heart rate for half the team, because it’s the system they’ve been using,” Roberts, who has a master’s in exercise physiology, said. “And now we’re introducing is one that monitors the heart rate and an accelerometer. What that means is that I can get all of the movement and determine how much energy is in their legs.”

His data just doesn’t measure the players’ cardio-vascular fitness, but how the exercise load is affecting their legs when they fatigue. The trainers analyze the data and decide whether they should train the players harder or let up on them.

If the demo goes well for Roberts, he’s hoping the Suns will allow him to continue tracking the players throughout the season. He’s already worked with the Suns on and off over the last 13 years.

One of the interesting findings is what a beast Nash is from a cardio-vascular standpoint. Although training camp is grueling for most players, Roberts said that it’s been difficult getting Nash’s heart rate up.

Even at 37-years-old, you’ll constantly see Nash blow away the younger 20-somethings on the roster in sprints at the finish of practice. In order to maximize his training, they have to force him to do exercises beyond basketball and running.

Making Gaines

Mercury Head Coach Corey Gaines, who also played in the NBA during his basketball career, is officially on the Suns’ staff this season. Last season, the Suns hired Nenad Trajkovic to help give the younger players and non-rotation players more work.

At the end of practice, or on game days, you would see Trajkovic or Gaines working out players like Suns center Garret Siler or Dowdell. The position was created to take the burden off of the assistant coaches, who could spend more time studying video and creating game plans.

It's a nice addition for the Suns, and for Gaines, who has already captured a WNBA Championship as a head coach. Thus far, it seems as if Gaines has taken a liking to rookie Markieff Morris, rebounding for him before and after practice.

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