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Interview with Ronnie Brewer: Part Two
by: Eric Weiss
November 15, 2007
Eric Weiss: You hear a lot about Coach Sloan and how he is tough and uncompromising. But he’s also very successful. That style works for some players but not for others. What things does he do that you really like, and what about him do you think might be misunderstood?

Ronnie Brewer: From the outside, I think people misperceive his decision not to play rookies as much as some people may think they should play. But that’s his decision; he feels that they don’t have the experience, and by sitting, watching, and getting gradual playing time, they can really develop.

He doesn’t feel that throwing a rookie into the fire and letting them get burnt is the right way. He lets you test the water and see how it feels, test it out, and then when you feel you’ve learned, he lets you back in the water again for another try.

A lot of young players may not have the patience to stick with it for a long time and learn the system and his performance in it. So that may be a knock on him , but I don’t think so. I wish I would have played more last year, but it paid off in the long run because I’m getting a lot of playing time THIS year, am in a starting role, and have been playing well so far.

What I really like about Coach Sloan is that he’s fair to everybody. He really doesn’t play favorites with the stars or anybody else. In my opinion, he’s a hard-nosed, hall of fame coach who tells it to you like it is. He’s not going to paint a pretty picture for you. If you’re not playing well he says, “hey, you’re not playing well.” If you’re playing good, he expects more. He’s not going to kiss your butt because you’re playing well, because that’s what he expects you to do. That’s what they pay people to do, and they pay them well.

So he expects you to play well and he lets you know when you’re not, and I really like that about him. There are other coaches in the NBA that may not be as firm with their star players and I think our coach is. He pretty much wants perfection, and I think that’s why he’s been successful for so long teaching his offensive and defensive principles. He sticks by his guns and he’s done that for many years.

Eric Weiss: Can you tell us more about what your role in the offense and defense is? You run a pretty complex system, with good use of roster depth. Offensively, everyone touches the ball. Tell us more about how you fit in?

Ronnie Brewer: In the past, I don’t think this team has really had an athletic 2-guard, so the first thing that coach wants is just for me to be as athletic as possible, run the court in transition, running the lanes, hit the basket, and finish with contact. In the half court set, it’s just about getting into the offense, know the plays, be able to read the defense, knock down shots when I’m open.

The more important role is the defensive role. Last year we had a lot of guards come in and have big games, a lot of 30 and 40 point games. Being a guy that can come in and make those 2-guards work, make them take tough shots, and challenge them to have to work on the defensive end, that’s my job as a 2-guard on this team.

Eric Weiss: What are you striving for personally, and what collectively other than a championship? What are some of the small things you’ve discussed as a team internally that outsiders might not be aware of?

Ronnie Brewer: Well, I think our first goal is to just play every game and not think about the big picture. Go into every game like it is a playoff game and try to win it as if it’s a statement game. If you do that, you can end up with an amazing record. But we don’t want to look at April and May, we want to take things month-by-month, with the championship being the obvious goal of every team.

We had a taste of success last year in getting to the conference finals. We definitely want to get back there and beyond, make a trip to the finals. We set our goals really high as a team. Everybody sets individual goals too, being a better player than you were last year.

To me, being a solid 2-guard, keeping the starting job at the beginning of this year, and playing well at the end to give our team a chance to win games is my goal. Keeping players from having those 40 and 30 point games. I feel if I go out and play 100 percent, then everything will take care of itself.

Eric Weiss: Just to extend off of that a little, where do you think the team went wrong in the matchup against San Antonio last year? From a skills standpoint it looks like the two teams match up pretty well. Was it just an experience factor, or were their nuances to the game that you fell short in that made the difference in that series?

Ronnie Brewer: I think experience went a long way, kind of an understatement. They’ve won four championships the last nine years with an experienced coach and players who’ve been together. For a lot of us, that was our first go-around with each other. We were kind of wide-eyed with the whole situation.

They just played better basketball than us, executed a little bit better, defended a little bit better. They played down the stretch in a way that a more veteran team would do, which propelled them to the win. Then they moved on and won pretty easily in the finals, so it shows you what type of team they are.

Eric Weiss: It seems like it’s really the speed at which they execute because of that familiarity, that chemistry. It’s like they’re more than the sum of their parts. You think you have a match up that works for you, a player you can defend, or a guy you think you can score on. But the ball moves faster than a person can and it seems like they’re so in-tune with what they do that it’s just a well oiled machine out there.
You guys think you can get to that level?


Ronnie Brewer: San Antonio is a great team, but at the same time we’re a good team, great players, great coach…
Eric Weiss: …and you’ve certainly got age on your side with everybody being between 20 and 28 years old….San Antonio can’t keep it up forever…

Ronnie Brewer: …exactly, exactly…I mean, you hope that age starts to catch up with them eventually, but at the same time, they are an amazing team and we’ve got to do the things we’re capable of doing, play Utah Jazz basketball. If we do that, we’re capable of beating a lot of people. If we do what we do best, execute our offense and our defense I think we can shock a lot of people this year.
 


Feedback for this article may be sent to eric.weiss@gmail.com .

 

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