"Some guys are money players," says Gentry. "You put it on the line, they come through. Amar�'s one of them." As Gentry takes his $20, I still feel pretty good. Perhaps I've made STAT stand a little taller or a little more talented. Or perhaps he'll spend the season bombing ill-advised treys.
After a team dinner at a nearby restaurant, the staff heads to Mike's suite at the Westin. The reviews of practice and the strategizing for the next day's sessions have become more specific; the coaches have to get certain things out of each player. At practice I've been studying them all, trying to see what they need to work on, and sometimes I think I have it figured out. But I'm amazed at the awareness of my new colleagues. At root coaching is the same at every level. It's a matter of reading the team, motivating the players who are short on drive, propping up the ones who lack confidence and challenging the ones who are too self-assured.
Mike: "Guys, we have to watch James Jones a little bit, keep his confidence up."
Weber: "He was shooting before and after practice."
Mike: "I know. Sometimes when you're working that hard, though, it's because your confidence is down."
Weber: "He shot 40 percent on threes last year. There's a certain level of confidence that comes with that."
Iavaroni: "Emphasize the right things with him. That's because he's not going to come to you. You've got to give it to him."
Gentry: "But I do think he believes he's a good player."
Iavaroni: "Absolutely. Let's just make sure he knows we know that."
Mike: "I'd just like to see him get a little more aggressive. A little more vocal. A little more, Hey, I belong here."