Terry Porter Interview
Milwaukee Bucks coach Terry Porter spoke with InsideHoops.com and other major media outlets in a teleconference. Here are the questions and answers:
Terry Porter's Opening Statement: Training camp went pretty good. I thought guys did a good job of coming to camp in good shape. We put in a couple of things defensively and offensively that they have gotten pretty good at. Weíre just looking to continue to improve every night out and weíre very excited about the start of the year for us and we look forward to the challenges we have ahead of us.
Q: Michael Redd had a breakout season last year. What are you looking for him to improve on this season and what do you need from him each night to get back to the postseason?
Terry Porter: Like you said, he had a breakout season last year, so teams are going to focus on him more. Itís going to be important for him at this stage of the game to still be aggressive in the things he needs to get done. But also understand what the opponents are going to be doing and he may have to get other guys, other teammates involved. There comes a point in a playerís career where he gets the label of ďsuperstarĒ or ďof having arrivedĒ and teams make their adjustments defensively, so he has to make the adjustment by making his teammates better while still being aggressive.
Q: When Keith Van Horn was in Philadelphia he didnít gel well with (Allen) Iverson having to be the second go-to guy. Do you think that Van Horn could be that player for you and what do you need from him?
Terry Porter: Well, I think he can. I think Keith has been a very consistent scorer and rebounder throughout his career Ė about 18 points and eight or nine rebounds. We expect those types of numbers from him when itís all said and done. The key for us is keeping everybody healthy.
Q: Bernie Bickerstaff has mentioned many times that he had studied your team last year and observed your team as a young team who overachieved by playing really hard night after night. Do you think thatís an accurate characterization of what happened last season and, if so, how do you get there?
Terry Porter: I played this game and I think the key for me when I learned to play this game was to play hard every night. I think at this level if you play hard every night you can be successful. You can win your share of games. You have to explain that to the players. I try to let them know what to expect right away, but I doní try to kill guys. I think that itís important that they understand that they have to get their rest but they have to come out and play at a certain level. And as far as overachieving, we donít see ourselves overachieving although obviously everyone else did. Our goal was to get to the playoffs and we achieved that goal, so we were excited about achieving that goal. At the start of this yearís training camp we talked about playing hard every night and improving in areas we need to improve on.
Q: What do you think your team picked up from losing in the playoffs to the Pistons and watching them win the title? Is there anything you would like to draw from that experience?
Terry Porter: Well the biggest thing is they didnít have a bona fide superstar. They had a bunch very good players who played extremely well together and had a great team worth ethic, I think. And thatís something that we stress. At both ends of the floor, I think offensively Larry tried to have them share the ball, pass and make the right decisions. That is something that we hyped up from day one: To make sure we put in a good team effort at both ends of the floor.
Q: Is it challenging for a coach to say this is the way the Pistons won it, we could do this too?
Terry Porter: Itís hard for a coach to keep harping on that. I think you have to look at your personnel, look at your roster to see if that best fits your needs and your kind of situation. For me, it does. We donít have a bona fide superstar, we donít have a Shaq or a KG or a Tim Duncan, so thereís no true anchor like that. Mike (Redd) had a great year last year and itís going to be a lot of pressure on him to try to duplicate that this year and try to get the same numbers. But we really try to rely on teammates offensively and defensively.
Q: As a former point guard who has quarterbacked some really good teams, are you okay with your point guard situation at this point, with Mike James and Maurice Williams and with T.J. Ford out?
Terry Porter: Yes I am. Obviously it was a concern when we got into the free agency. We were looking at guys out there that we could bring in and Mike James has been a starter in this league before and I think Mo is a young man who definitely can be a starter in this league. So Iím happy with both of those new additions. They both bring some athleticism to this position. They can shoot the ball, they can score and I think they are very capable of running a team.
Q: One thing about Damon Jones is that he really didnít turn the ball over that much, is that something youíre preaching with these guys as well?
Terry Porter: Yes. Damon did a great job with not turning the ball over and running our team. And thatís something we definitely have to continue to stress to them because that was one of the reasons we had success. We werenít a team that turned it over a lot. We did, for the most part, keep our turnovers down, which prevented our opponents from getting out in the open court. Most of the time when a turnover occurs, it leads to an easy basket or an easy opportunity and we canít afford those types of breakdowns.
Q: Can you talk about Desmond Mason and your frontcourt and specific skills each player in your front court brings and how you decide who should be playing next to each other and who should be coming off the bench?
Terry Porter: Mason is a key part to our team. I donít know if he is going to start, thatís yet to be determined and weíre still looking at that. But heís definitely a guy who we see playing a lot of minutes for us. Heís going to be a key factor in our success this year. As far as our big guys, we are still working on that. Dan Gadzuric has not played in any preseason games yet so itís hard fore me to talk about everyone. But Daniel Santiago was a solid contributor for us last year. We have some new guys -- Zendon Hamilton, who brings a physical presence with rebounding and good defense. Zaza Pachulia is a young man who I think is just starting to get his feel for this league, 21 and he can defend around the floor extremely well. Jelani McCoy, who we have in camp and has been around the league, could do some things. And we also have a young man by the name of Lonnie Jones. So weíre just trying to get a look at as many bigs as we can knowing that thatís a spot where we really have some challenges in going forward.