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Phoenix Suns

Updated Feb 15, 2012 - 6:50 pm

Newsmakers Week: Gentry talks challenges, Lin, Morris

Alvin Gentry knew this would be a difficult season, but the lockout made things even more challenging.

The Suns coach, a guest on Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf Wednesday as part of Newsmakers Week, said the game seems to be coming quickly.

"I've gone through a lockout before, but not really like this," Gentry said. "We've had one practice in the last two weeks or so, and there's a lot of things you'd like to try to work on and get better at."

Gentry said the thing that most disappoints him is the team's record at home, where the Suns have won just five of 12 games.

"We've lost at home to Cleveland and we've lost at home to Toronto and we've lost at home to New Jersey," he said. "I think if we would have just taken care of business there, because we've played pretty good on the road, then we'd be in a situation where I think we'd be about where I thought we would be."

At 12-17, the Suns are certainly not where they wanted to be, which is on the outside of the playoffs looking in. But all is not lost, as Gentry knows there are ways his team can get better.

On Jeremy Lin: Linsanity is sweeping the nation, as the Knicks point guard proves with every game that he is, in fact, legit.

But it gets some to wonder, how does a player with that kind of talent slip through the cracks? Lin was not drafted coming out of college and was with the Warriors and Rockets before finding a home in the Big Apple.

"I'm not real sure," Gentry said. "The only thing I can really equate it to is a guy like Avery Johnson, where he was cut I think five or six times by NBA teams."

Johnson had a 16-year NBA career, and was the starting point guard for the San Antonio Spurs when they won the title in 1999.

"I think what happened is that you get a great fit in a situation, and for Jeremy, obviously, point guards - Mike has won championships with guys in Europe, and he's had Steve Nash and he's done some things," Gentry said. "That offense, it fits exactly what he can do. I think the way Mike coaches, it gives you the utmost confidence."

On how rookie Markieff Morris develops: Suns rookie Markieff Morris has had a very solid start to his NBA career, averaging 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds through his first 29 games.

And at 22, there is plenty of time for the former Kansas Jayhawk to improve, and possibly become a starter for a team that could use some young talent.

"I just think, number one, he needs experience," Gentry said. "Nothing takes the place of experience."

Gentry said experience will help Morris through certain situations, and as he learns the game he'll be able to adjust to the NBA players he's facing on a nightly basis.

"He's playing against bigger, stronger, faster guys every single night," Gentry said. "But I think we've also got to understand that it's going to be a little bit of a roller coaster with him, and that's what rookies do.

"Eventually I think he'll be a very consistent, very good NBA player."

And when he becomes that guy, Gentry said it will be at the power forward position.

"We'd like to keep him at that position," the coach said.

Gentry praised Morris' work effort and said he has the drive to become a very good player, which is why the rookie has been spending more time in the weight room and doing other things to help him improve.

"He's bought into that so I just think you'll see improvement," Gentry said. "I told him the most important thing to me is what happens between your first year and then the summer. I think the summer of your second year, where you really, really can make the jump."

Championship aspirations: Alvin Gentry also wants Suns fans to know the team is committed to winning the one thing that has eluded the franchise.

"I think this is a team and a franchise," Gentry said, "our ultimate goal is to try to win a championship.

"That's where all the work and all the direction that we're going to point's not something that's going to happen overnight."

Gentry said he wants the fans to be on board and hang tight, because "I think no one is more deserving than the fans of Phoenix."


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