Stan Van Gundy Interview
The 2005-06 NBA season starts soon. Here's what Miami Heat head coach Stan Van Gundy said about his team and the upcoming season on a recent conference call:
Q: How has your camp gone so far?
Van Gundy: Obviously, weíve incorporated a lot of new people, some very talented new people. Our practices have been going great. Our guys have worked very hard. I think everybody realizes the opportunity they have to be on a good team. The work has been great. It has not translated into games so far. We have played the game poorly, and have not been good at ball movement and things like that. I think it will take some time for people to not just get into the system, but to play the game a different way.
We have so many guys that have been the guy with the ball on their teams, and we donít have a lot of guys who are used to being the ball-movers who let the other people play and space the floor. That right now, from an offensive standpoint, has been our biggest challenge. There are a lot of guys trying to make too many and too difficult plays, turning the ball over like crazy. Defensively, we have not been awful, but we havenít been great. That, I think, is just more of a learning thing and getting into our system, so Iím overall very encouraged even though we have not played the games very well. I think itís a good group and I think it will come together within the next couple of weeks. Weíre looking forward to that time when it does.
Q: Is your job harder this year than it was last year?
Van Gundy: Itís not harder. Itís just different. I think all our guys have come in with the right attitude. They really want to get it done. But I think you underestimate the adjustments guys have had to make. We had a lot of new guys last year also. The only guy that really had to make an adjustment for us last year was Eddie Jones. His adjustment was to sort of take a step back. He already knew our system, so it was easy for him. But Damon Jones didnít have to make any adjustment. He knew he was a complimentary type of guy. Keyon Dooling, Udonis HaslemÖ there were no real adjustment.
Now, youíre asking guys like Antoine Walker, Gary Payton and Jason Williams to play off of Shaq and Dwyane [Wade]. I think they knew thatís what it was going to be and they were willing to do it, but itís different. Theyíre used to as soon as the ball comes to them to put it on the floor, create and make a play. Weíre sort of running into each other right now. I donít think it has anything to do with ego or selfishness. I think it has to do with guys having to make an adjustment in the way they play the game at times. Itís not as easy as some people think it is.
Q: Are certain guys who have been stars throughout their whole careers unable to make such adjustments?
Van Gundy: Itís different. I think they certainly can do it and are willing, but it takes some time. When youíre dealing with role players, or guys who you run plays for, theyíre sort of used to, you know, I spot up, I create space on the floor, I knock down open shots, and if I donít have the shot I throw it to someone else and get out of the way again. Weíve got guys who arenít used to being that guy, and a lot of times now weíre on the floor with four guys who when it comes to them, theyíre thinking about trying to make the play.
Itís not that guys are being selfish. Guys just arenít used to making the simple pass, and the simple reverse of the ball to let the next guy play. Thatís something that weíre struggling with, not because of an unwillingness, but because of an adjustment. And thatís a major adjustment for guys like Antoine and Gary. Itís a little easier for point guards, probably. Antoine probably has the toughest adjustment out of anybody that we have.
Q: Are you okay with the three-point shooting of your current team?
Van Gundy: Yes. We may not have guys with quite as proven track records of shooting a high percentage from three, but overall we probably have more guys who are capable of stretching the defense in James Posey, Jason Williams, Antoine Walker and Jason Kapono. All of those guys are capable of being good three-point shooters. I think weíve got plenty of it. Weíve just got to get guys to understand who theyíre playing off of, and then if theyíll get to spots on the floor and get themselves ready to shoot, theyíre going to have very good looks at the basket. Theyíve got to be ready to step in and knock it down.
Q: How important is having a dominant big man in this league?
Van Gundy: I think people have proven itís not necessary to win in the NBA. I think Detroit proved that a couple of years ago and they obviously beat us in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. I would not say that itís necessary, but at the same time I think if you look at most of the championship teams, going back as far as you want, whether itís Tim Duncan, or Shaq, or Olajuwon, obviously Jordanís teams were an exception. It obviously is a big help. I think itís a nice security blanket offensively that thereís times you can get somebody some rest by just coming in and getting the ball in to Shaq, spot up and let him go to work and make plays. He provides you with a security blanket. He provides you with a real chance to rest at times and just set your offense. He gives you a calmness, which I think is very helpful.
Q: Why did you want to alter your team so dramatically in the offseason?
Van Gundy: I donít think we went into the offseason saying we have to change this team. I think some opportunities came up to get some guys that he really liked and he thought would make the team better. I think if you give any good personnel guy a chance to make his team better, heís going to jump at it. The one thing I think people should understand and give [Heat VP of Player Personnel] Chet [Kammerer] a lot of credit for his that he opened himself up to possible criticism. A lot of guys I donít think would have the guts to make that move. But he thought it gave us a chance to be better. He was willing to be bold enough to go do it. I think itís going to work out very well. I think weíve got a lot of talent here, and a lot of guys that want to get it done. Weíve just got a job ahead of us to bring it together in the right way. Weíve hit some bumps in the road already, but weíll keep working on it, and I think itís going to be a very good team in the long run.
Q: What kind of shape is Shaq in?
Van Gundy: His conditioningís fine. He came in exactly as he did last year. I donít know where the reports came from. I guess somebody made something up, but heís right where he was last year at the start of camp. He has gotten bigger in terms of strength, but actually, heís right where he needs to be. Heís worked hard in practice everyday. I think his conditioning is fine. He still needs to work and get in better shape for the start of the season and beyond, but to where he was at the start of the camp, he was fine.
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