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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Suns to train in McKale

    Suns guard Leandro Barbosa (left) drives by teammate Raja Bell during an intrasquad scrimmage in McKale Center that concluded training camp in 2005. After holding  camp in Italy last year, the Suns will train in McKale once again this October.
    Suns guard Leandro Barbosa (left) drives by teammate Raja Bell during an intrasquad scrimmage in McKale Center that concluded training camp in 2005. After holding camp in Italy last year, the Suns will train in McKale once again this October.

    The Phoenix Suns will hold training camp in McKale Center this season for the second time in three years after training in Italy as part of an NBA program last season.

    Suns general manager Steve Kerr, a former Wildcat star who played on the school’s first Final Four team in 1988, said the team had a “”great experience”” training in Tucson two years ago, which Kerr attended as a consultant to the Suns.

    Phoenix held camp in Flagstaff 16 of the previous 19 years before the squad’s Tucson camp in preparation of the 2005-06 season, never coming to the Old Pueblo in that time. Kerr said he anticipates his club training in Tucson on an “”annual basis”” now, as the Suns continue to grow their fan base.

    “”We feel strongly about the connection between Tucson and the Suns,”” Kerr said after Sunday’s Lute Olson All-Star Classic Shootout. “”I think we’re getting more and more fans from down here who are coming up to games, who are watching the games on TV, and we just want to maintain that connection, make sure that the Suns are Arizona’s team, not just Phoenix’s.””

    Camp will take place during the week of Oct. 1 following Media Day in Phoenix that day, according to suns.com. When the Suns trained in Tucson two years ago the camp concluded with a Saturday scrimmage open to the public that would likely take place Oct. 6 this year if done again.

    Phoenix returns a squad that lost to eventual NBA champion San Antonio in the Western Conference Semifinals last season in a matchup of the teams with the two best records left in the playoffs. The Suns reached the West Finals the two previous years with a core of All-Stars Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion, with returning players Raja Bell, Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw joining free agent signee Grant Hill on this year’s team.

    “”We’re right there, we’re right there, so we’re trying to get over the hump,”” Kerr said.

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