Warriors try to lock down on defense

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» Thu Oct 13, 2005 11:29 am
By Marcus Thompson II, CONTRA COSTA TIMES
October 12, 2005

HONOLULU - The consensus among the Warriors is that they have to improve defensively to have a chance of making the playoffs. The question becomes how to make it happen.

How can the Warriors be transformed from porous to productive on defense? How can they overcome a roster of subpar defensive players and a still relatively new system to become proficient at stopping opponents?

"A lot of defense is just want, just wanting to do it," Warriors coach Mike Montgomery said. "It's hard work. You get tired, you've got to be able to defend and that's what we're working on. But they're working at it. It's not something that's going to happen overnight. Team defense takes a while to develop."

The Warriors were one of the worst defensive teams in the league last year. They allowed an average of 100.9 points per game, 102.6 in their 48 losses.

Getting torched by Amare Stoudemire, LeBron James or Stephon Marbury is one thing. But what really hurt was the role players who burned the Warriors last season, such as giving up 26 points to the Los Angeles Lakers' Chucky Atkins, 23 to New Orleans' Dan Dickau or 29 to New Jersey's Brian Scalabrine.

"If you want to be in a position to be a playoff team, you can't play that type of ball," said Warriors guard Jason Richardson, who this summer worked on his footwork and lateral movement and broke down film in at attempt to improve his defense.

"... This year the coaching staff has put together a good defensive plan. That's something we didn't have in the past. First day of training camp was defense this year. In the past it was offense the first two or three days. This year it was defense. That's a good feeling."

There were a couple things working against the Warriors defense last season. First off, four of the five members of the coaching staff were new to the organization. The defensive scheme was mostly experimental given the staff's unfamiliarity with the players. Secondly, the roster had only four or five players who were solid one-on-one defenders, and no more than one of those players started at a time.

With that in mind, how will the Warriors be better defensively this season?

Members of the organization said one positive is that the staff and players have a year under their belts together. The continuity, ideally, would lead to a better understanding of the system and more thorough execution.

"The most important thing is the next person, not so much on-ball," Warriors assistant coach Keith Smart said. "If you can eliminate penetration six times out of 10, that's pretty good. But it's the next guy that is in line. It's all about your personnel. Some guys are not known as defensive players, and they're not going to be defensive players. But knowing that this guy may be beaten off the dribble, you've got to have help.

"We all have to be on the same page and just everyone knowing their rotation. I think it's concept more than anything, having people in help position more than trying to get a player to develop a defensive mentality."

There have been signs of improvement. The intensity has been up in training camp, which Montgomery said has resulted in frustration for some players on offense.

It seems the players clearly have a better understanding of where they are supposed to be. Some of the players said the trust in one another is developing. One example came in practice Monday at BYU-Hawaii.

Forward Mike Dunleavy beat his man from the left wing and darted toward the basket. He went up for what looked to be an easy layup, but forward Troy Murphy came out of nowhere and swatted it out of bounds.

"We know if we are beat, somebody's going to be back there," Richardson said. "In the past, it wasn't like that. If you pressured up on somebody and you got beat, you were getting dunked on. This year, we're helping each other out."

That's a start.

INDEFENSIBLE

Some Warriors defensive statistics from last season:

• 136: Season-high points allowed (Double-overtime loss to San Antonio on April 10)

• 102: Points per game the Warriors allowed after the trade deadline Feb. 24 (100.3 before trade deadline)

• 46: Number of games opponents shot 50 percent or better from the field

• 24: League rank in points per game allowed (out of 30 teams)

• 11: Numbers of times an opposing player scored 30 or more points

• 1: Number of times the Warriors held an opponent below 80 (78 in season-opening loss to Portland)
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» Thu Oct 13, 2005 2:16 pm
Ouch, those numbers hurt... especially cause we still got a LONG way to go as far as defense.
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» Fri Oct 14, 2005 2:45 am
And even with those numbers, the team finished strong. They need to improve the defense, but it's not as bad as it seems. Any run&gun team will give up a lot of points...
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» Fri Oct 14, 2005 7:43 am
True... but imagine the Warriors playing with defense. They'd be damn near unstoppable.
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» Fri Oct 14, 2005 6:57 pm
True, even with those numbers the Warriors finished very strong!

Good to see Murphy get a block!!!!!!!! Imagine if that became a standard!


Warriors should be focussing on defense but they should not neglect their offense! even great offensive teams can stray offensively if they don't practise enough
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» Fri Oct 14, 2005 8:45 pm
I wish that was Murphy's standard... our problems at center would be over!

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