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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Training Camp Underway...News And Notes

The Orlando Magic's last possession of the 2006-2007 season -- Game 4 of the playoffs against the Detroit Pistons -- ended, fittingly, in a turnover.No wonder that on the first day of training camp last Saturday, new Orlando Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy angrily halted practice after another pass ended up in the wrong hands."What were we in turnovers last season? Anybody know? 25th? 28th?" Van Gundy said, staring through several of his players. "No one-handed passes! Come on take care of the ball!"The Magic actually ranked 29th in turnovers last season, committing 1,392 -- second-most in the NBA behind the New York Knicks.Orlando averaged almost 17 per game. Their careless ways undermined their play, costing them valuable possessions, making the opposition's job easier.The Magic had 27 turnovers in a February game against the Chicago Bulls, 11 by center Dwight Howard, who finished with an NBA-high 317.Like his predecessor, Brian Hill, Van Gundy is determined to limit the miscues."If we want to win, we better," he said. "It's very difficult to overcome turning the ball over a lot. You'd have to make a lot of shots offensively, and your defense would have to be incredible to overcome it. They're giveaways, and they lead to points. It hurts you in a myriad of ways."Hill's impatience with the turnover outbreak reached a boiling point after one game when he growled, "This has got to stop!" It didn't.The Magic won't improve unless Howard and point guard Jameer Nelson (184 turnovers) reduce their mistakes.Howard, who gets the most touches, committed 100 more turnovers from Year 2 to Year 3. Opponents often knocked the ball out of his hands as he made a move. Other times, teammates struggled to feed him in the post."We just have to play smarter," Nelson said. "It's just playing the right way and developing good habits."Last season, there were spates of unforced errors. Instead of making the simple play, the Magic sometimes tried to go for the highlight-reel assist.Van Gundy has told his players he is backing off on playing such a structured style. But the leash will grow shorter if turnovers mount. "It's up to them," Van Gundy said.It didn't take long for players to discover that Van Gundy has little patience for carelessness.Guard Keith Bogans is worried each time a ball gets lost in practice. Van Gundy punishes players for various crimes against basketball fundamentals by making the offender (or offenders) run sprints."I had to run five sprints for not getting back on defense. Sprints will make you remember," Bogans said.

6 Comments:

  • At 3:50 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    No one grows up wanting to play basketball like Adonal Foyle.

    It just happens out of necessity.

    "It's an ugly game I play, doing things that you don't write home to your parents about," Foyle said. "It's in the trenches. It's pushing, shoving, elbowing. It's not the glorious side of the game, but all the good teams usually have someone to do it. I'll happily do it here."
    The Orlando Magic signed Foyle on the cheap this summer to play behind center Dwight Howard.

    He might be playing alongside him.

    The absence of Tony Battie, who likely is lost for the season, and the desire of Howard still to play some at power forward, has added to the importance of Foyle, whose love of the low-post, dirty-work duty has made him an increasingly attractive option for Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy.

    Howard/Foyle together was one of the lineups used during a scrimmage session this week at training camp, giving the Magic something to ponder.

    "I think Coach is going to try a lot of stuff. Against a big team, he'd be able to play us together. I can concentrate on the other team's big guy, and Dwight can have a field day against some forward. If he can play the four [power forward], it's clearly a mismatch in our favor."

    Foyle, 32, has spent the past 10 seasons playing defense with the Golden State Warriors. At 6 feet 10, 270 pounds, he is considerably heavier than Battie, which allows him to handle even the biggest NBA centers. And he is a much better shot-blocker, averaging 1.78 blocks in only 19.1 minutes, giving Howard a co-anchor defensively.

    The Warriors had little use for him, though, last season. New Coach Don Nelson favored a helter-skelter, small-ball style of play, in which the defense was making a steal to create a fast break.

    Foyle averaged only 10 minutes last season, but he also averaged one block in those short stints. For years, he was the NCAA all-time blocked shots leader (492 blocks) at Colgate.

    "This is a great situation for me. It's a new start with a team that wants, really wants, to play defense," Foyle said. "A lot of teams say they want to play defense, but after two days, it fades. I don't see that happening here. Not with all the time we spend on it in camp. And that's to my advantage."

    The Magic previously pursued Foyle as a free agent in 2004, but he re-signed with Golden State. It's why the Warriors were scheduled to pay him $8.9 million this season and $9.2 million next season. Both sides agreed to a buyout instead this summer, saving the Warriors a few million but allowing him to become a free agent again. The Magic signed him for the $1.2 million veteran's minimum, which could become a bargain.

    "The No. 1 thing we're going to get from him is great defense, shot-blocking and rebounds," Van Gundy said. "He also brings great energy and consistency. What has been surprising are his offensive skills. He has shown some nice moves around the basket. That would be a nice bonus."

    Foyle never has averaged more than 5.9 points per game in his career, showing little offensive consistency. Playing him alongside Howard could be a problem for the Magic if opponents don't have to guard him outside the lane. Battie, conversely, had a nice 12-foot jump shot to keep defenses honest.

    "I think people will be surprised with my offense, which is a good thing. Just because you haven't seen it, doesn't mean I don't have it," he said. "It's been percolating beneath the surface all these years. It's like a doctor who has to go to school for quite awhile before he can practice medicine.

     
  • At 3:51 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Orlando Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy said three starting jobs are up for grabs, leaving two 2006-07 incumbents -- point guard Jameer Nelson and small forward Hedo Turkoglu -- fighting for spots.

    Van Gundy said Dwight Howard will start at center, and Rashard Lewis will start at one of the forward spots.

    Last season, Howard, Nelson, Turkoglu, Grant Hill and Tony Battie were the starters. Hill left for the Phoenix Suns to open up competition at shooting guard, and Battie's shoulder injury left Orlando looking to fill his spot at power forward.While Turkgolu figures to get the forward spot opposite Lewis, the most surprising development is that Nelson apparently needs to beat out Carlos Arroyo and Keyon Dooling. Nelson is counting on playing a lot of minutes in this, his contract season.

    "It is what it is. Nothing has ever been given to me," Nelson said. "I wasn't surprised. If I was surprised, I'd be stressed about it. I'm not stressed over it."


    Lineup tinkering

    Van Gundy said he will experiment with different lineups during the preseason, which begins Monday against the Atlanta Hawks at Amway Arena.

    "Next week . . . I'm trying to put together five or six lineups we want to look at. . . ," he said. "Who do we want to see play together?"

    Van Gundy mixed and matched in Tuesday's practice. He said he had small forward Trevor Ariza playing shooting guard, Lewis playing both forward spots and Turkoglu at shooting guard, small forward and power forward.

    "We're trying to move guys around," Van Gundy said.


    Etc.

    Van Gundy raved about the point-guard play Tuesday, saying the guards recorded 16 assists to one turnover in a scrimmage. . . . Arroyo had some dental work and was unable to be boisterous. "He'd just nod," Van Gundy said.. . . . The Magic held one three-hour practice Tuesday, skipping the night session. They'll resume two-a-days today and Thursday.

     
  • At 9:18 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    I like what I've been reading so far. With only two players (Howard and Lewis) guaranteed a starting spot, it should be quite a competition for the other three spots, which should bring out the best in the guys.

    I have full confidence that Coach Van Gundy will make the right choices about who starts and where. It will be interesting in the preseason to see some of the starting lineups and player combinations that are used on the court.

     
  • At 12:33 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    I thought the same thing,cant wait for the pre-season to get started so we can see what coach svg is thinking.Also,to hear him say the shooting guard spot has been a position of strength the first four days of practice is very good to hear. I like the thought of trevor starting at the two if hedo and rashard are the starters at the forward spots. Technically trevor would be playing the three on offense and on defense he would guard all the two guards,hedo and rashard would rotate shooting guard and power-forward duties on the offensive end,seeing as how both can spread the floor. We wont have great size at any one position,but we would have better than average size throughout the line-up with everyone except jameer being 6ft8 or above!

     
  • At 4:37 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    I'm guessing either Keith or Trevor will end up being the starting 2. It just makes sense, especially on the defensive end. If Keith is out there, everyone on the floor surrounding Dwight would have the ability to hit the 3. But Trevor can offer a lot more than Keith, minus the 3 point shot. However, as BIG pointed out, Trevor could just play as the 3 on the offensive end, and still defend the 2 on the defensive side of things. One thing is for sure, the versatility is nice to have.

     
  • At 9:48 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    On the paper it is exciting to tinker with the line-up. However, the past experiences prove that depending on the offense at the expense of the defense does not pay off, especially if your point guard's name is not Nash.

    I have my doubts about using Rashard and Hedo side-by-side, but if that is the route to go, we should have Keyon at the point facilitating a faster pace offense while inserting a better defense. With Keyon at the point, our options at two will expand also since the defense at two becomes lesser of a factor.

    Having all that said, as Winston Churchill once said, planning is all good but once in a while one has to look at the results. I am confident that Coach Van Gundy would be good at assessing results, and quite capable of adjusting at any given time, if need be.

     

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