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Pitino Says C's Are A Very Together Team
Pitino: What a difference a year makes
Celtics Notebook/by Steve Bulpett
Thursday, October 7, 1999
The Celtics haven't played an exhibition game yet, and no one's putting
points and rebounds in the paper, but Rick Pitino believes the attitude of
his club is very different from the previous edition.
During the 1999 irregular season, the coach carped regularly about
selfishness and players looking for their own numbers.
``This is different,'' he said after yesterday's practice at The Satch
(Sports Authority Training Center at Healthpoint) in Waltham. ``The team
is very together, has great chemistry. Everybody knows their role and
realizes they're going to play a lot of minutes.
``I don't know what agendas we had last year, but I know what agenda we
have this year. I think we took two steps back last year. This year
there's nobody interested in stats; there's nobody interested in anything
except winning. And you see that. It's infectious and it's all anybody
cares about. Nobody cares about points. You see the ball being moved. You
see everybody banging each other. You see everybody playing defense. It's
so much more noticeable this year that nobody cares about statistics.''
Surely Pitino has had teams pay lip service to such team ideals -
particularly so early in the process. Does he truly believe the worm has
turned so completely?
``Oh, yeah,'' Pitino said, ``because when guys come off screens, they're
not looking to shoot now; they're looking to dump the ball down into the
post. The truth is in the pudding. You see them doing it. You see Antoine
(Walker) going down the lane and he's looking to who he can dish it off
to. And if we can get him to average six assists a game, we'll be in good
shape. It used to be he was gun-shy because he didn't know if the guy he
gave it to was going to knock the shot down. But all these guys can shoot
now. All these guys can play. Now we expect him to find the open people.''
Pitino sees the 50-game condensed schedule for what it was.
``Last year was a nightmare. It was terrible,'' he said. ``It was really a
terrible, terrible existence.
``And on top of it, I even screwed it up further because I tried to get
them in shape in a short period of time and everybody got hurt. The entire
team. Good guys like Andrew DeClercq who keep their bodies in shape, and
Walter McCarty, they all had groin pulls the first day.''
Ice cream high
NBA security was in the house yesterday, with all Celtics undergoing a
drug test. There was nothing to report from that exercise, but word is
general manager Chris Wallace did test positive for Baskin and Robbins
mint chocolate chip.
A number of college coaches are in watching the practices. On hand are
Herb Sendek of North Carolina State, Billy Donovan of Florida, Bruiser
Flint of UMass and Bobby Gonzalez of Manhattan.
Former Celtic CEO Dave Gavitt stopped by to watch some of the morning
workout and have a chat with Pitino.
Best of bunch
Danny Fortson is drawing most of Pitino's raves, displaying a nice
shooting touch to go with his huge biceps and aggressive board work. And
Paul Pierce appears to be using a strong rookie season as a launch point.
``Paul's just a throwback basketball player,'' Pitino said. ``A lot of
guys will work hard, but they're not enjoying every second they're working
hard. He's thoroughly enjoying it. If we didn't have practice tonight,
he'd be back in here anyway working on his jump shot.''