After practice today, Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy stated that he sees the the defensive effort he wants in practices but the team has had troubles transferring over the intensity in games. Not tonight. Van Gundy was pleased with the Magic's play, defensively, for the most part. At times, Orlando had lapses on defense but Van Gundy stated after the game that the errors are fixable - all in all, he was happy.
I was able to ask a few questions to Van Gundy amongst the media, as well as speak with Matt Barnes and Marcin Gortat. Here's what they had to say after the game:
Stan Van Gundy:
What did you think of your team's defensive performance tonight?
I thought it was good pretty much for the whole night. I thought our guys played hard, played focused, we made a couple of mistakes but the mistakes were down from what they've been and I thought that our intensity for longer periods of time was higher than it's been so I was pretty happy.
Tonight, you had seven guys in double-figures. Is that the type of balance you'd like to see offensively?
Not necessarily. I don't really care except I just sort of noticed it in my time here that when I'm just sort of watching, thinking we're playing well, we end up with five, six, seven is rare, but five, six guys in double-figures because even though we're only going to a few guys - we're running pick & rolls for Jameer, we're giving Vince the ball, we're going to Dwight - if we're playing the game right and playing together, then the ball moves and everybody gets shots and we get pretty good balance so it's a pretty good indicator of our ball movement, if nothing else.
More after the jump.
You were able to start at the four tonight. How did you think you performed?
It's a position I've played before. With this team, it's always different but I felt pretty good tonight, rebounding, defending well so it's a new spot for this team but it's going to take a little bit of getting used to.
What are some things that Stan is looking from you out of the position?
Just energy, effort, rebounds definitely. Dwight's a good rebounder, but we need some other people to pitch in. Being able to be more active on pick & rolls when my man sets the screen and really going out there and play. My shot hasn't been feeling too good so I haven't been shooting it too much but just a little bit more work and it'll come back and I'll feel good.
With the regular season approaching, is it good to have some games under your belt?
Yeah, it's good. I think our chemistry is starting to pick up, it's pretty much ... there's seven new guys so it's predominantly a new team and I think our chemistry is coming a long way and I think by next week we'll be ready to go.
How much confidence do you have being able to play with some many guys that are talented players, that have been on the big stage before in the NBA FInals?
We have a high confidence level. I think, as a team, our confidence is high but we can't let it go to our head. We got to come out every night, people are going to be gunning for us as the Eastern Conference champs, so everyone is going to be coming for our head this year and I think we got to be ready for that and we will be.
With Rashard Lewis out for the first ten games, will you see a lot of minutes at the four?
I think that's what he's [Stan Van Gundy] is looking at now. I know he said that he'd like to see me at the four so in practice, I've been playing a lot of four lately and it's where the ball is going so we'll see how it goes.
How have the practices been? Have they been intense?
Yes, very long and very intense. It's something that everyone is getting used to here, I think for a little while - I know for me, personally - my body took a hit and I think that's why my jumpshot hasn't been falling because these practices have been a grinder, but I found a way to take care of my body better and I'll be ready for the time when the season comes.
Will you guys continue to maintain a defensive mentality?
Yeah, that's the staple of this team. With Dwight being one of the best defensive players in the league, it makes everyone else want to pick their game up and I think with him staying honest, we're going to stay focused, and be a good defensive team no matter what. Whether we want to or not, he's going to get it out of us.
How physical has it been in the pre-season so far? Is it different from the regular season, in terms of the physicality?
I would say that everything depends on how you're going to start, if you really want to start. I would say that the game starts medium, average, there's not much fighting but if people are starting to push more and hitting people, then obviously I'm going to respond and I'm kind of putting myself on a bind because I'm always trying to play hard and trying to pin someone under the basket so they just hit me back and obviously the teams are always ready for Dwight so when Dwight is coming out and I'm coming in, the defense is still the same.
Do you feel like an enforcer sometimes when you're coming in for Dwight?
I feel great. When I'm coming in, I feel great. Obviously if I can give him a couple minutes of rest, then he's going to come back in and do his thing then that's all we need.
How eager are you to start the regular season, just so that the games can start to count and they mean something?
That's what we were talking about today because it's just weird, it's just pre-season, so those games don't count. Those statistics are going to go away so it's just hard. I hope I'm going to keep up this work and hopefully I can bring this attitude to the regular season.
Are you at least encouraged with the start to the season you guys have had?
I mean, that's what we got to do. We come out everyday to play and win the game. I've been here, this is going to be my third year so I don't remember a year where we started 13-1 or 13-0, who knows, we might make it work this year and we'll see.
With all the new players on the team, how do you think they've adjusted so far?
I think they're getting it. I think they're already ... things are getting better and better with our system. Obviously it was hard the first couple of days to play with the new guys because they have to understand our mentality and our game but with every game, there's big progress, there's a big step, so I'm 100% sure we're going to be ready for the opening night.
With the talent on the roster, do you feel you come at teams relentlessly?
That's the thing, with the first unit, when the first unit is taking a lead or is taking everything out of the starting lineup from the other team, then our second unit is coming in and we're still pushing and still playing hard. We put more energy into the game so if all the units can do that, then we're seriously going to be dangerous, real dangerous.
In practice, does the second unit push the first unit hard?
The second unit is kind of crazy because the second unit is only white guys. *laughs*
There's only white guys on the team and we're always winning but no, there's always a different day, a different game. It depends on what we play and what kind of rules we have and what kind of drills we got but it's pretty cool, it's pretty tough. There's a lot of fun in the practice, too.
Do you think that's something that's going to really benefit you guys during the regular season? The practices?
I think so. There's a lot of guys fighting for minutes right now so with me, my situation, me and Dwight are the only five men on the team but there's still Brandon, who's pushing also as a five man. On the four spot, there's a big crowd so everybody competes, everybody tries to beat me up for being the first guy in the weight room every day but trust me, if someone comes at 8:00 [in the morning], I'm going to come at 7:50, if someone comes at 7:45, I'm going to come at 7:30.
People see Brandon Bass as a relentless guy with a lot of energy. Do you see that in practice?
Oh, yeah. With Brandon, I'm laughing that he's getting the ball, the red eyes as a bull, so okay, he's going to go and you got to watch out and he's just going hard. Like I tried to take a charge on him, but no, not in the pre-season.