That's what Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said was needed, after practice was over early in the afternoon, for the Magic to improve on the defensive side of the ball. It'll be interesting to see if Orlando will bring more energy and intensity on defense when it treks on the road for back-to-back games against the Memphis Grizzlies and the New Orleans Hornets (in Wichita, Kansas), respectively.
I was able to speak with Van Gundy amongst the media and J.J. Redick one-on-one. Here's what they had to say:
Stan Van Gundy:
What does Rashard Lewis need to do adjust defensively at the three?
Well, I mean, it's a whole different deal for him. I mean, it's a whole different situation, it's basically being further away from the basket a lot and chasing people through screens and stuff and that's something he has not done a lot of, at least since he's been here.
In terms of Marcin Gortat's play last night, do you think that's an example of him being worth of the contract he received?
Well, I don't think there's any question he's worth the contract. I think that's why Otis [Smith] and Bob [Vander Weide] decided to match. I mean, we think he's worth that and I think what happened last night is he really got into the game well into the second half. Now, the tough part for him is to get ... which he's always been very good at but he's got to get himself going quicker because he's normally not going to get 35 minutes so he's got to get going into the flow of what's going on quicker but he did a great job last night.
Recently, the NBA released it's GM survey and not one person voted the Orlando Magic as the best defensive team. What do you think about that?
Maybe they watched our game last night. *laughs*
No, I don't care what anyone votes. The numbers say what they say so ... but right now, we're certainly not with the way we played last night so that was a big emphasis today. Part of it is repetition and watching film and making sure everybody is on the same page learning our system, there's no question about that. We showed some things today that were mistakes, mistakes are not ... we can work on those, a lot of the things we saw were correctable but our effort has got to go up, it's go to go up, and a lot of the things we did wrong last night would have been cured just by making a better effort.
How does the offense change having Gortat on the floor instead of Dwight Howard? Are there more pick & rolls?
Yeah, I think that Marcin's strength is to ... constant movement and energy, getting into pick & rolls and making them [opposing defenses] defend that and with Dwight, we post up more so that's the main difference.
When you have a full roster ready to go when Rashard Lewis gets back from suspension, how big will your rotation be?
I don't know. I just don't know. We'll see how everybody is playing. Eight, nine, or ten [players], I don't know. It certainly can't be more than ten and ten is a lot. Eight or nine? A back-up point, a back-up center, and two of those other guys at most and that's it. Probably. It'll be hard, we could go ten for a while I guess and just have a back-up at every spot but I don't know, we'll have to see how everybody is playing and what we think we're getting not only with our starting lineup but with our second unit. This group will be a little harder to figure out, as it has been in the past but all the options are good options so it's certainly not a complaint.
How do coaches figure that out? In terms of figuring out a rotation, is that based on personnel, talent, what?
Well, what we think will work. We'll obviously want to see much of them as we can in the pre-season and then you find things you like and don't like and how guys who fit together. I mean, I think there are some guys that maybe are very good players who work themselves more to say being go-to guys with the second unit than really guys who can fit in and be complimentary guys in the first unit so it's not just putting your five best players on the floor to start because I think with those first four guys (Nelson, Carter, Lewis, Howard), the guys I know I'm going to start when Rashard comes back, that fifth guy has got to be a guy that helps those four guys the most in some way and then we got to find a second unit where at least one of our main guys is still in it playing with them but a second unit that operates pretty well and find what they can do. That'll be more what we're trying to figure out probably in those last three exhibition games. Use these first five to sort out, come up with some possibilities, and then try to use the last three to try to narrow it down and get fixed on something.
Do a lot of players do that, to organize what Jameer Nelson does during the off-season?
No, I haven't heard of very many at all. They may get together in groups of them in the off-season but not try to bring a whole team together. I've never heard of that before.
More after the jump.
I know yesterday you were able to create off the dribble. Is that something you're trying to do more of?
It's not something I'm necessarily looking to do. I mean, I know that one of the things as part of my role is just giving energy offensively off the bench so [assistant coach] Bob Beyer and I have talked a lot about just having an aggressive mentality and an attacking mindset when I'm out there. If people are going to play me a certain way off screens or off pick & rolls, allow me to take it to the basket and create off the dribble then I'll always do that.
Stan talked about you getting into a rhythm when you get into the game because he doesn't know how many minutes you'll see coming off the bench. How tough is that to get in a game and get hot really quick?
It is tough, it is tough, and that's why I can't work myself into games. I have to come out aggressive, I have to come out with a scorer's mentality because I mean, realistically, I played 20 minutes last night [20:48, to be exact] but I played 9 straight minutes in the first half and 12 straight minutes in the second half. In the regular season, I probably won't get the opportunity just because Vince is going to play so much so whether it's a five minute or eight minute stretch, I got to be aggressive.
What do you have to do to get yourself prepared, so when you come into a game, you're ready to go right away?
The preparation comes before the game. I mean, everything that I do before and after practice and the work I do before a game, I mean, once the game starts when you're on the bench, I just got to prepare mentality but physically, all the work is done prior to.
On your site, you talked about learning how to be a professional. Is there anyone on the team that's taken you under their wing and taught you what it's like to be a pro in the NBA?
Yeah, certain guys have and some of the stuff I've had to learn on my own. I talk a lot about my first couple years in the league, just kind of getting knocked in the mouth a little bit. It really was kind of having a wake-up call. I think that was good for me. One of the guys, who's not here anymore, one of the guys that taught me a lot was Keyon Dooling. Keyon kind of went through the same thing that I went through, he didn't play a lot in his first few years in L.A. with the Clippers, and he had a coach who told him he wasn't an NBA player and Keyon learned how to be a pro. He's someone that I looked to and admire because he put in the work, he carries himself like a professional.
Do you still keep in contact with him, even though he's in New Jersey right now?
Yeah, we actually kept in contact all of last year, texting occasionally and over the summers. I haven't talked to him since the season has started, though.
Odds and Ends:
I was able to speak with a source associated with the team's plans and it was stated to me that the Orlando Magic are currently scouting (usually it's one person who charts plays, patterns, tendencies, etc.) their future pre-season opponents, in preparation for when the team faces off against them in the next coming weeks.