Eric Weiss: You hear a lot about Coach Sloan and how he is tough and uncompromising. But hes also very successful. That style works for some players but not for others. What things does he do that you really like, and what about him do you think might be misunderstood?
Ronnie Brewer: From the outside, I think people misperceive his decision not to play rookies as much as some people may think they should play. But thats his decision; he feels that they dont have the experience, and by sitting, watching, and getting gradual playing time, they can really develop.
He doesnt feel that throwing a rookie into the fire and letting them get burnt is the right way. He lets you test the water and see how it feels, test it out, and then when you feel youve learned, he lets you back in the water again for another try.
A lot of young players may not have the patience to stick with it for a long time and learn the system and his performance in it. So that may be a knock on him , but I dont think so. I wish I would have played more last year, but it paid off in the long run because Im getting a lot of playing time THIS year, am in a starting role, and have been playing well so far.
What I really like about Coach Sloan is that hes fair to everybody. He really doesnt play favorites with the stars or anybody else. In my opinion, hes a hard-nosed, hall of fame coach who tells it to you like it is. Hes not going to paint a pretty picture for you. If youre not playing well he says, hey, youre not playing well. If youre playing good, he expects more. Hes not going to kiss your butt because youre playing well, because thats what he expects you to do. Thats what they pay people to do, and they pay them well.
So he expects you to play well and he lets you know when youre not, and I really like that about him. There are other coaches in the NBA that may not be as firm with their star players and I think our coach is. He pretty much wants perfection, and I think thats why hes been successful for so long teaching his offensive and defensive principles. He sticks by his guns and hes done that for many years.
Eric Weiss: Can you tell us more about what your role in the offense and defense is? You run a pretty complex system, with good use of roster depth. Offensively, everyone touches the ball. Tell us more about how you fit in?
Ronnie Brewer: In the past, I dont think this team has really had an athletic 2-guard, so the first thing that coach wants is just for me to be as athletic as possible, run the court in transition, running the lanes, hit the basket, and finish with contact. In the half court set, its just about getting into the offense, know the plays, be able to read the defense, knock down shots when Im open.
The more important role is the defensive role. Last year we had a lot of guards come in and have big games, a lot of 30 and 40 point games. Being a guy that can come in and make those 2-guards work, make them take tough shots, and challenge them to have to work on the defensive end, thats my job as a 2-guard on this team.
Eric Weiss: What are you striving for personally, and what collectively other than a championship? What are some of the small things youve discussed as a team internally that outsiders might not be aware of?
Ronnie Brewer: Well, I think our first goal is to just play every game and not think about the big picture. Go into every game like it is a playoff game and try to win it as if its a statement game. If you do that, you can end up with an amazing record. But we dont want to look at April and May, we want to take things month-by-month, with the championship being the obvious goal of every team.
We had a taste of success last year in getting to the conference finals. We definitely want to get back there and beyond, make a trip to the finals. We set our goals really high as a team. Everybody sets individual goals too, being a better player than you were last year.
To me, being a solid 2-guard, keeping the starting job at the beginning of this year, and playing well at the end to give our team a chance to win games is my goal. Keeping players from having those 40 and 30 point games. I feel if I go out and play 100 percent, then everything will take care of itself.
Eric Weiss: Just to extend off of that a little, where do you think the team went wrong in the matchup against San Antonio last year? From a skills standpoint it looks like the two teams match up pretty well. Was it just an experience factor, or were their nuances to the game that you fell short in that made the difference in that series?
Ronnie Brewer: I think experience went a long way, kind of an understatement. Theyve won four championships the last nine years with an experienced coach and players whove been together. For a lot of us, that was our first go-around with each other. We were kind of wide-eyed with the whole situation.
They just played better basketball than us, executed a little bit better, defended a little bit better. They played down the stretch in a way that a more veteran team would do, which propelled them to the win. Then they moved on and won pretty easily in the finals, so it shows you what type of team they are.
Eric Weiss: It seems like its really the speed at which they execute because of that familiarity, that chemistry. Its like theyre more than the sum of their parts. You think you have a match up that works for you, a player you can defend, or a guy you think you can score on. But the ball moves faster than a person can and it seems like theyre so in-tune with what they do that its just a well oiled machine out there.
You guys think you can get to that level?
Ronnie Brewer: San Antonio is a great team, but at the same time were a good team, great players, great coach
and youve certainly got age on your side with everybody being between 20 and 28 years old
.San Antonio cant keep it up forever
I mean, you hope that age starts to catch up with them eventually, but at the same time, they are an amazing team and weve got to do the things were capable of doing, play Utah Jazz basketball. If we do that, were capable of beating a lot of people. If we do what we do best, execute our offense and our defense I think we can shock a lot of people this year.
NBA Team Needs: Northwest Division
Jun 22, 2009, 11:07 pm
An in-depth look at the roster situations of the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trailblazers, Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder--what they have, where they are going and who are the players that may be targeted in this upcoming draft.
NBA Team Needs: Pacific Division
Jun 17, 2009, 10:34 pm
An in-depth look at the roster situations of the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings--what they have, where they are going and who are the players that may be targeted in this upcoming draft.