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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Suns open preseason in McKale

    Phoenix Suns coach Mike DAntoni talks to reporters yesterday in McKale Center. The Suns will practice in McKale every day until Sunday, with the public scrimmage taking place Saturday night.
    Phoenix Suns coach Mike D’Antoni talks to reporters yesterday in McKale Center. The Suns will practice in McKale every day until Sunday, with the public scrimmage taking place Saturday night.

    Suns Notes

    Orange and purple sneakers filled McKale Center yesterday as the Phoenix Suns officially kicked off its 40th year with preseason training camp.

    The team had a two-hour morning workout – working on its base defense and offense sans contact – and a two-hour evening workout that saw more physical play.

    Though the Suns are running two-a-days all week and are having an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday night in McKale, head coach Mike D’Antoni said the team does not feel rushed to get ready for the preseason, which starts Oct. 11 in Sacramento against the Kings.

    Rather, he said, the team’s goal while in Tucson is to prepare for Nov. 1, when the regular season tips off.

    “”Then we’ve got to be ready in April,”” D’Antoni said. “”It’s a gradual process that starts this week.””

    D’Antoni added that it is good for the team to get out of the monotony of Phoenix, if only for a week.

    The Suns return to Tucson after holding training camp in McKale two years ago. The team had camped in Flagstaff for 16 of the previous 19 years.

    We like coming down to Tucson. It’s a great facility here and it
    signifies the fact that basketball is starting up. It’s good for the guys … and it’s fun.

    Mike D’Antoni, Suns head coach

    “”We like coming down to Tucson,”” he said. “”It’s a great facility here and it signifies the fact that basketball is starting up. It’s good for the guys…and it’s fun.””

    Marion dodges trade questions, relates Suns to Wildcats

    While forward Shawn Marion was loathe to address the latest set of rumors surrounding where he’ll play this season, he was glad to talk about college basketball after yesterday’s morning session.

    He said he liked the fact that coaches from North Carolina, Oregon and Wake Forest were observing the workout. Arizona coaches Lute Olson, Miles Simon and Kevin O’Neill were also on hand.

    “”It’s cool,”” he said. “”They got to sit in and observe what we go over. We said hi to them, but once we got here we had to get to work, and they understood.””

    Marion – who played one season at UNLV in 1998-1999 after two seasons at Vincennes University, a junior college in Indiana – said the gap between college and professional basketball has been narrowing of late.

    “”We’re starting to see a lot more pick-and-rolls in the college game,”” he said. “”But (in the NBA) the court is bigger and wider and the talent is definitely more competitive.””

    Marion compared the Arizona men’s basketball team to the Suns, saying that each of the team’s last seasons ended before anticipated.

    The Wildcats lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against Purdue, as the Suns fell to the San Antonio Spurs in six games in last season’s Western Conference semifinals.

    “”I watched (the Wildcats) play in the tournament last year,”” he said. “”They’ve got some really talented players. It was disappointing for them, but it was disappointing for us to end that way, but that’s part of the game.””

    The media bombarded Marion about trade rumors after yesterday’s morning session.

    He said repeatedly that he was with the team to play basketball and that his focus is nowhere else. He asked one reporter to stop asking questions about the subject and “”baiting”” him.

    “”We’re talking about basketball,”” he said. “”I’m here with this team and that’s what it’s about.””

    Marion asked to be traded from Phoenix on Sept. 26, noting the team’s refusal to negotiate a contract extension and pervading rumors that he would be included in a trade for new Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett.

    Suns general manager Steve Kerr, a former UA men’s basketball player, said he had a private conversation with Marion on Monday night to address the issue and offered sympathy.

    “”I understand that this kind of thing happens,”” said Kerr, who played in the NBA for 15 seasons. “”I’ve been around this very scenario many times in my career, and I told Shawn that. This happened in ’98 with Scottie Pippen. But Scottie didn’t allow it to affect his play. I don’t think Shawn will either.

    “”It was a distraction in the summer, and now it’s time to play basketball.””

    D’Antoni said despite all the talk, Marion will continue to conduct himself as a professional athlete.

    “”He wants what he wants and that’s fine,”” D’Antoni said. “”That’s the business side of it. But Shawn, as a person, is going to come in and play as hard as he can and be with the team and try to win as much as he can.””

    Amaré won’t join McKale festivities

    Six-foot-10 center AmarǸ Stoudemire was not present yesterday, as he underwent a successful arthroscopy yesterday morning in Phoenix. Suns team physician Thomas Carter removed a loose particle from Stoudemire’s right knee.

    “”Everything was great with Dr. Carter,”” Kerr said. “”The surgery went exactly as planned.””

    Kerr said Stoudemire will come down to Tucson tomorrow, immediately start rehab and will see the hardwood again in two and a half to three weeks.

    The particle in Stoudemire’s knee was found in an MRI on Sunday after his knee began to swell, Kerr said.

    “”We didn’t think it was much, just some irritation,”” Kerr said, “”but we didn’t want him to push it. …After the surgery, we felt it was the right decision. It was something that probably would have hampered AmarǸ all year long, so it was better to get it done now.””

    Though he admitted it wasn’t the best news in the world, teammate Steve Nash said that the situation could have been worse.

    “”It was a sigh of relief knowing that the surgery went OK and he’ll be back with us in a couple weeks,”” he said.

    Kerr said he is confident the team’s trainers will help Stoudemire recover quickly and stay healthy. The treatment that the trainers have given to Boris Diaw and Suns newcomer Grant Hill gave Kerr even more confidence.

    “”One thing that we really have going for us is our medical staff is the best in the league,”” Kerr said.

    “”People had told me that before and I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I watched them work with Grant. Grant is amazed at the work they’ve done and said he hasn’t felt this great in years.””

    Stoudemire underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee two years ago this month after he participated in preseason camp in McKale Center.

    “”We’ve got to stop coming to Tucson,”” Kerr joked.

    Added D’Antoni: “”(Stoudemire) played all summer, so he’ll take these three weeks, rehabilitate and he’ll be good all year. His body told him he needed three weeks off, and that’s fine.””

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