Tisdale Will Be More Defensive in Role With Suns
BY Matt Doyle
Oct 12, 1994
6/02/08 at 11:53 PM
INDIANA University basketball coach Bob Knight was not defensive in his
remarks 10 years ago when asked about Wayman Tisdale's defensive skills.
"Wayman does about one or two things acceptable by my standards," said
Knight when he coached Tisdale on the 1984 United States Olympic basketball
Tisdale, one of the newest members of the Phoenix Suns,
said his defensive skills have come a long way since then.
"I learned a lot about defense from coach Knight," Tisdale said. "That
helped when I first got to the NBA. I had to guard someone out on the floor.
I was never used to that at OU because I was a center.
"It was good to go through that and prepare me for where I am today."
Playing defense will be a determining factor for success
this season for Tisdale and the Suns.
Tisdale and his new Phoenix teammates will play an exhibition
game against the Detroit Pistons at 7 p.m. Saturday at the
Myriad in Oklahoma City.
The old adage of defense wins championships has held in
the NBA for the past six years. Detroit and Chicago emphasized
defense in their championship runs. Houston downed New York
last season in the lowest scoring NBA Finals of recent memory.
"One of our main concerns early is to work on getting defensive
help," Tisdale said. "We realize that we don't have a
truly great center so we're going to have help out a Joe
Kleine and double down a lot."
Phoenix does not have a "great" center on its roster to
match up against a Hakeem Olajuwon or David Robinson. The
Suns could not contain Olajuwon as Houston eliminated Phoenix
from the playoffs last May.
The two centers Phoenix relied on a year ago, Mark West
and Oliver Miller, are with Detroit now and will face their
former mates on Saturday. The Suns hope Kleine and free
agent acquistion Danny Schayes can provide an adequate job
at the center position.
"We will surprise people early with our defense," Tisdale
said. "We're definitely going to be help conscious. I don't
know how many centers can stop the great centers in this league."
Phoenix, though, has a lot of offensive firepower in its
aresenal. All-stars Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson and Dan
Majerle remain from a team that has won over 50 games the
last six seasons. Add free agent forward signees Tisdale
and Danny Manning, along with the re-signing of forward
A.C. Green, and the Suns have at least six players that
can score 20 points in a game.
"It's kind of funny because I'm used to being the only
guy on the team," Tisdale said. "It's great to be with
all these all-stars. I'm more used to a lean situation."
For all of Tisdale's nine-year NBA career he has been in
a lean situation. The Indiana and Sacramento teams Tisdale
played on have been among the worst in the NBA. In fact,
Tisdale has only played in four playoff games (with Indiana
in 1987) in his NBA career.
"I'm just happy to be in a winning situation at last,"
he said. "It was time to get out of Sacramento. I had the
opportunity to come to Phoenix and I couldn't pass it up."
Since arriving in Phoenix, Tisdale has noticed a big difference
his new team and those he previously played on.
"The confidence level of this team is very noticeable.
Everybody is more pleasant to each other," Tisdale said.
"There are no hidden agendas like there are on losing teams
... some players on losing teams want to go out and average
lots of points and just don't care about winning. Here,
there is a collective winning attitude."
Winning, just like playing defense, is something that Tisdale
could get used to in a hurry now that he's with a winner in Phoenix.