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Alvin Gentry on Why the Suns are Better Defensively

Yesterday morning, I jumped into my daily routine. Wake up, get in the car, turn on “The Dan Patrick Show,”and head off to Equinox in Santa Monica.

But, yesterday was different. I got in my car and turned to “The Dan Patrick Show” and instead of hearing the sweet soothing voice of Mr. Patrick, I heard a cackle of a voice from none other than Petros Papadakis. Apparently, Dan Patrick is off and filming a movie in Hawaii, and “Petros and Money” were filling in for his time slot. Being on the west coast, I am not sure of how many of you get to listen to the smooth voice and opinion of Petros (sarcasm font needed), but I rate him up there with lets say…Stephen A. Smith. Yeah, it is that bad!

So, obviously, I went to change the radio station, but just as I was about to turn the station, I noticed that Petros and Money were interviewing Phoenix Suns’ head coach Alvin Gentry. Having Gentry on the show piqued my interest considerably, particularly since the Suns were about to play game 6 that night against the Blazers, and hopefully we can hear some insight into the game. Now after some BS questions about In and Out burger by Petros (shocking), Money finally asked a great question, and the whole reason I am writing this article today–besides bashing Petros.

Money asked coach Gentry why he thought the Suns were so much better defensively this year, not only an improvement in opposing field goal percentage, but points per game and in many other facets of the defensive end.

Gentry’s response and I am going to paraphrase in bullet points:

  • We simplified things on the defensive end.
  • By simplifying things, it made the players more accountable.
  • The players made each other accountable.

These are three fantastic points that any coach at any level can take home with them to their basketball team. Coaches, lets all admit it, tend to over complicate things. But, as coaches we must remember that good defense, in large part, comes down to how hard a player/team works at that end of the floor. There is no need to come up with crazy defensive schemes that over-complicates things, when simple schemes and hard work accomplish what needs to be accomplished. In addition, by making players accountable enables coaches to easily show a player when they screw up. No matter what player you have, nobody wants to be shown that they were scored on or they screwed up the defensive rotation. Simplifying your defense allows players to understand it, see and try harder at fixing it the next time.

Lastly, Gentry talks about the players making each other accountable. Now, Gentry is lucky in this instance of having players accountable for each other because he has a hall of fame leader in Steve Nash on the court for him. Although Nash is not a great defender, he demands a ton of respect from his teammates on any aspect of the court. Some say the Suns’ players listen more to Nash then the coaches, and my point is that, as a coach, you need to figure out a way to develop leadership in the team. Players get tired of hearing the coach yell and hearing it from their teammates works 10x better, especially on the defensive end. Unless, of course, Petros Papadakis is your teammate.


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