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Let’s Talk Defense. It’s What Bob Hill Wants the Team to do.

Coach Bob Hill needed to get a few things off his chest yesterday. That much was clear from the nearly 40 minutes he spent with a few media members going over the state of the team.

A tired, but upbeat Hill displayed a lot of passion going so far as to draw out various blown plays from the loss to the Hornets on the teams chalk board. During the course of the conversation he made clear his opinions on several matters:

First of all let it be known that the young centers Swift and Petro are going to continue to see time and that he is optimistic about the future and enjoying the development of those two players.

“That’s where we are.” Said Hill, “the two big kids are going to play. They’re going to be good. Nobody’s got two young 7 footers in the league, nobody.”

Optimism aside Hill acknowledges that both Swift and Petro have some additional work to do before they learn how to win games.

“I look at it as a process.” He says before reitterating, “I’ve made a commitment to Robert and Johan.”

While he is optimistic about the “two babies” as he refers to Swift and Petro Hill remains perplexed at the team’s inability to improve at basic defensive help and communication. According to Hill there is a lack of support on the defensive end of the floor that stems from not talking to each other or offering enough help in defensive rotations.

“I’ve got to get them (Swift and Johan) not to help as much and we’re trying to get everyone else to help more.”

Defense is the key for Hill who states “You have to piece surges of defense together during the course of the game to get enough stops to get the win. They are a plethora of little things away from becoming good enough defensively to win games.”

“They’ll be on the bus and talk as much as they do, then they get on the floor and refuse to help each other and talk defensively.”

The results are not pretty.

“There were plays, probably 5 or 6 or 7 of them throughout the course of the game that their reaction, it didn’t make any sense.”

Unfortunately the roster provided does not offer a many defensive minded options to turn to.

“Every guy we have is a basketball player first and foremost because they can score. It’s not because they bring a mindset day in and day out that I’m going to stop my man.” Hill said. “If you’re out there playing defense you need to talk a little louder than we’re talking. I don’t know, we’ve got some soft spoken guys I guess. They just refuse on a consistent basis to help one another.”

Hill constantly refers to this team “Being built to score points” and cannot name the defensive leaders on the team when asked. He does however feel that Nick Collison has the ability to step up on the defensive end. Collison was slated to become a starter even before injuries removed Vladimir Radmanovic from the lineup.

“Nick deserved it and our interior defense wasn’t what it needed to be” Said Hill “Maybe (Nick) could help that some.”

“Nick is a very good team defender. I think Nick Collison can be a very, very good big forward who can play both ends of the floor. I think he’ll evolve into that.”

Unfortunately Collison continues to struggle with foul troubles that he will need to overcome before he can move up to the next level.

“I go on stretches where I get in quick foul trouble and I wasn’t on the floor enough. It’s my own fault, getting into foul trouble.” Said Collison. “I have to do a good job of not playing with my hands. I have a tendency to play with my hands and when you have your hands extended sometimes they’re going to call it whether you commit a foul or not."

As for the rest of the team Hill feels they simply need to talk to each other, pointing out screens, communicating on rotations, etc.

It remains difficult to listen to comments by coaches or staff and not feel like the organization intends to make some type of move to make things better.

“I’m sure that they’ll want to change this team a little bit, and add to it. But you’ve got to get a couple of guys who take pride in making stops.” Said Hill who adds “We have who we have and I don’t go into Rick Sund and say I need this or I need that. I never do that. I try to take who I’ve got and make them better. The thing that is frustrating is that we have really, really quality people on this team. But they don’t play together on either end of the floor like they should.”

If Hill were to go to Sund he would be seeking defensive role players to build around their offensive talent.

“We don’t have anybody who’s going to step over that line with the attitude that I’m going to shut this guy down.” He said. “If you want to build a championship team with guys who can score initially, then decide who of those offensive players you want to keep then fill the rest of the roster with defensive minded guys. If you look at the teams that win every year…I mean all you have to do is look at their rosters and the answer is right there for you.”

When the defense gets better either via trade or improvement from the existing roster Hill is confident that the team will come around.

“They do go out there, and they play so damn hard, and they’re having a hard time getting wins. Those will come when they start being a real team.”