According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Amar’e Stoudemire is determined to improve on the defensive end and believes Mike Woodson can help. He also indirectly appeared to lay some of the blame on playing for the defensively indifferent Mike D’Antoni in his formative NBA years:
“Just having a defensive coach for the first time in my career is going to help,’’ Stoudemire said. “I’ve never been taught defense my whole career. To now have a coach who actually teaches defense and strategies and knows positioning and posture and how to guard different plays is going to be helpful and I’m taking it as a challenge and try to improve as a player.’’
D’Antoni must hear this and just think, “Thanks.” Now, no one’s confusing D’Antoni with some sort of defensive wizard, but I kind of feel like Amar’e could have picked up a thing or two about defense during a 10-year NBA career, right? Someone must have at least mentioned something somewhere along the way. I just can’t imagine a young Stoudemire raising his hand at Suns practice, “Um, yes, sirs, about defense, uh, I was just wondering…”
“SILENCE! WE DON’T TALK ABOUT THAT HERE! Just go work on your dunking and then grab some lunch!”
That being said, Stoudemire has always had skills that you’d think could make him a decent defensive player, obviously just his crazy athleticism, but also an ability to block a shot along with plenty of strength, as well, but too often he appears to lack almost any sense of how to play team defense. He just looks lost out there at times, the kind of thing I guess you might expect from someone claiming he’s never been taught defense his whole career.
In fairness, Amar’e was a guy who came straight out of high school, where one imagines he didn’t really get fully versed in the intricacies of defense while he was stomping every poor pimple-faced kid in his path. That’s the type of stuff that really needs to be drilled in before you arrive in the NBA, since it’s the type of training that’s difficult to get done under the grind and speed of professional hoops, and could go a long way in explaining how porous he’s become on that end.
Anyway, it’s worth a shot. Best of luck, Woody.