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Summer Suns get the message: ‘We’re going to run’

Jeff Hornacek made it clear from day one.

“We’ll know if they’re in shape or not,” the new Phoenix Suns head coach said Tuesday, following the team’s first Summer League practice. “We want to push the ball.”

Message received.

“We’re going to run a lot,” Archie Goodwin said.

“(Hornacek) wants to get up-and-down, for sure,” P.J. Tucker added with a laugh.

Now, three days and six practices later, how in shape are the guys, coach?

“They’re not in the pushing shape, yet. They got better,” Hornacek smiled and said Thursday. “I don’t think they understood how much running it would be.”

They do now.

“He wants us to run,” Kendall Marshall said. “We definitely want to get up and down the court.”

The first opportunity for Hornacek to see his guys get up and down the court comes Saturday against Portland, the first of what will be a five-game run in the Las Vegas Summer League.

“It’s just a chance for us to get to know those guys; how they play, what we expect, the effort level, the passing part of it, the teamwork, the defensive stuff that we’re putting in,” Hornacek said. “They understand that we’re out there showing these guys in the summer because that’s what’s going to carry over into the regular season. It gives them the opportunity to really know the level of commitment that we’re asking these guys to give.

“Yeah you want to win,” Hornacek continued. “You want to play well, but really what we want to see is the effort. If we go down there and we don’t win, yeah we won’t be happy about it, but if they’re doing the things we’re trying to instill and get set with these guys, we’ll be happy.”

And as long as they’re pushing the tempo.

“That’s really one thing that (Hornacek) stresses is for us to run. That’s one of the things that we’ve really been keying in on,” Goodwin said. “I think that’s the best way to play, being able to play fast but with pace. If we master that, then we’re going to be pretty good.”

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