Practice, perseverance in post for Amar'e Stoudemire
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Amar'e Stoudemire can't wait to set up in the post, take an entry pass from Raymond Felton and show some of the moves he learned from Hakeem Olajuwon over the summer.
Stoudemire spent two weeks at Olajuwon's Houston ranch, learning from the man of 1,000 post moves. He admits he's a work in progress, so no one should expect "The STAT Shake" right away. But if he can become a legitimate post player, it could lead to Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony coexisting successfully.
"I think it's going to benefit my career," Stoudemire said after Sunday's practice. "It's going to allow me to develop, become more of a complete player. Something I've always been striving for as a player is to have an all-around complete game. I think it's going to add to my offensive skill."
Stoudemire has been a premier pick-and-roll player and finisher throughout his 10-year career, much of which was spent with former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni. But coach Mike Woodson runs more isolations and wants his big men to post up more than D'Antoni did.
After last season, Woodson told Stoudemire -- whose scoring average of 17.5 was nearly eight points less than the year before -- to work on his inside game. Olajuwon, Woodson's former teammate in Houston, agreed to help. Olajuwon also spent a week at the Knicks' practice facility in September, working with Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby and other frontcourt players.
"I'm a player that adapts to the system I play in," Stoudemire said. "Being here with coach Woodson now, I'm allowed to develop a post game which my speed and quickness will still be used to my advantage, but adding a lot of skill. I'm eager to step into the new era of my career."
A sore left ankle limited Stoudemire on Friday and kept him out Saturday. He went through Sunday's light practice, which included some half-court sets. But Stoudemire needs more reps to get comfortable with his post game.
"It's definitely a new phase of my game as far as post moves and footwork, something I have never worked on and never really needed to until now," Stoudemire said. "To apply all these moves I learned from Hakeem and then implement that on to the basketball court takes a lot of practice and then it takes a lot of perseverance to get through the beginning struggles of those moves. That'll be OK."
Woodson said he will continue running some D'Antoni plays, presumably pick-and-roll sets that were so effective with Stoudemire and Felton two seasons ago. But Woodson also plans to add plays that feature Stoudemire in the post. It's important for the Knicks to make him more of a threat. It could open things up for Anthony and the perimeter players.
"I have some sets that I like to run that will utilize guys closer to the bucket, and Amar'e's one of those guys that we're going to have to try and take advantage of and utilize him down there," Woodson said.
"Amar'e worked all summer. You've got to do some things on your own to improve your game, too. I think Amar'e's intended to do that. I'm just anxious to see how it's going to all play out once we actually start playing."
Notes & quotes: Felton's right hand was taped Sunday. Woodson said Felton jammed it in Saturday's scrimmage but is fine. He participated in practice, as did Rasheed Wallace.