EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Monty Williams happy to be back in Suns gym as team remains separated

Jul 1, 2020, 4:45 PM | Updated: 5:32 pm
Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams instructs his team during the first half of an NBA preseason...

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams instructs his team during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

What exactly do coaches across professional sports do right now to prepare their teams?

Everyone is learning on the fly through the precautions in place for COVID-19, and the NBA and NHL are in the most unique positions because they are finishing a season, not starting a new one.

You’ll often hear Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams refer to “our group,” but Williams hasn’t had his full group physically together since mid-March and won’t again until they travel to Orlando on July 7.

There has been no group because even as players returned for voluntary individual workouts the past few weeks with mandatory ones beginning on Wednesday, they are all isolated to their own basket and own coach or staff member. Daily schedules have been set so only a certain number of people are in the building at a time.

As far as team communication, Williams said the key thing that he has been doing is sending information to get everyone back in the habit of schemes, terminology and so on.

With the dynamic of the eight-game schedule in Orlando and the Suns need to be nearly perfect to make the playoffs, Williams has been focused on the nearest opposition.

“I’ve already watched the Washington game more times than I should,” Williams said of the Suns’ first opponent on July 31.

“That’s my job but it’s also what I like to do.”

It’s all going to move very quickly from here on out.

The team leaves for Orlando on Tuesday, and six days later they will start up some 5-on-5 elements for the first time, assumingly a full, mostly regular practice. In the period of a little over two weeks between then and the resumption of the season, the Suns will also play three exhibition games.

And as fast as that is to get to that Wizards matchup, with the standings against them, they could be eliminated in less than a week.

With that, the fragility of Phoenix’s season requires the right mindset.

Williams always has a core message for the team to have, one we can confidently say he gets through to the players with how often they repeat to the media what the coach had just said to the media.

For now, Williams presented the team’s high-level vibes in a way that, in hindsight, seems obvious.

“Getting back into the gym has been cathartic for a lot of us who just love the gym and love being around each other,” Williams said. “It’s really helped me a ton when you’ve been quarantined so long and being in somewhat of a limited routine, it’s good to have the gym to get back with your guys. I missed being around our guys.”

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