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Old 10-04-05, 01:50 AM
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MySA: Spurs look into glaring expectations

Spurs look into glaring expectations
Web Posted: 10/04/2005 12:00 AM CDT
Johnny Ludden
Express-News Staff Writer

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas — The Spurs touched down here Monday, anticipating not only Caribbean-flavored wind and rain but blustery expectations befitting a championship team that spent a summer assembling what appears to be its most talented roster.

The team, which opens training camp this afternoon at the University of the Virgin Islands, hopes the weeklong stay will renew its focus, help it get in shape and acclimate its newest members.

Or maybe not.

"I think we're just going to sit on the beach and talk," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich deadpanned. "Between boogie-boarding and everything else, we'll figure it all out."

While thunderstorms may limit fun in the sun, the Spurs figure to have a more difficult time escaping the spotlight.

After dethroning the Detroit Pistons in seven games in the NBA Finals, the Spurs look more than capable of continuing their own reign. They re-signed playoff hero Robert Horry and added a pair of former All-Stars (point guard Nick Van Exel and swingman Michael Finley) and one Olympic gold medalist (Argentine forward Fabricio Oberto). Devin Brown was the only player from last season's regular rotation to leave.

As a result, several pundits have penciled in the Spurs as repeat champions. Some of the more delirious fans even have forecast a 70-victory season.

"We haven't ever been in a situation like this," Bruce Bowen said. "A lot of times Pop is putting things together, and we have to achieve even though we're not getting any recognition. Now, you have to fight that people are saying how good you are. You have to fight that battle as if no one is saying anything.

"Since I've been here that's been our motto: Fly under the radar, take care of business and things will happen as they should."


The Spurs would prefer to avoid the attention altogether. While acknowledging it's difficult not to feel satisfied, Manu Ginobili said the team can't afford to believe the hype.

"That," Ginobili said, "is when bad things happen."


The Spurs' previous two efforts at repeating have taught them not to look too far ahead.

After winning the 1999 title, the Spurs began the following season without starting small forward Sean Elliott, who underwent a kidney transplant. They ended it, in the first round of the playoffs, with Tim Duncan sidelined by a knee injury.

The Spurs looked well on their way to repeating their 2003 championship, even after David Robinson retired. Until, that is, Derek Fisher broke their hearts with his infamous .4 shot in the Western Conference finals.

As opposed to both of those seasons, however, the Spurs open training camp without a hole to fill in their lineup. Instead, Popovich's challenge is to mesh Finley and Van Exel — two players used to playing heavy minutes — into the rotation without disrupting last season's championship chemistry.

"This is the deepest team we've had talent-wise," Popovich said. "What I'm hoping is that it ends up being the deepest team we've had knowledge-wise, with professionalism and basketball IQ."

Said Duncan, "More talent doesn't always mean a better team."


The Spurs hope to start that bonding process in the Caribbean. Popovich decided to hold camp in Duncan's homeland after receiving an invitation from UVI's athletic director.

"It should be a blast," said Duncan, who grew up on the neighboring island of St. Croix. "Hopefully, we'll get some work done but also relax and enjoy ourselves."

Popovich wants the team to have fun but also remember the task at hand. And the Spurs can start, he said, by forgetting last season.

"As coaches, we have to create an environment where we don't allow anyone to skip a step or think that they've arrived," Popovich said. "It's our job to remind them that it takes a long journey to get to the top.

"In some ways it's the journey that makes the prize so sweet. If you try to cut that short, when June comes, you're going to be watching someone else on TV."


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Old 10-04-05, 01:58 AM
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On another note it looks like Don Nelson went up there too and is hanging out with Pop. They showed him walking into the hotel with the guys on KSAT and Pop said that he was his dinner buddy .
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Old 10-04-05, 07:26 AM
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The Spurs looked well on their way to repeating their 2003 championship, even after David Robinson retired. Until, that is, Derek Fisher broke their hearts with his infamous .4 shot in the Western Conference finals.

I thought it was the Western Conference Semi-finals...
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Old 10-04-05, 07:51 AM
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Quote:
As a result, several pundits have penciled in the Spurs as repeat champions. Some of the more delirious fans even have forecast a 70-victory season.
Now who would even consider such a feat as remotely possible?
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Old 10-04-05, 08:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Rattler
The Spurs looked well on their way to repeating their 2003 championship, even after David Robinson retired. Until, that is, Derek Fisher broke their hearts with his infamous .4 shot in the Western Conference finals.

I thought it was the Western Conference Semi-finals...
it was. and that wasn't all. and i disagree with the fisher shot being the turning point. the spurs played poorly in 8 out of 12 quarters before that shot and 3 out of 4 afterward.
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Old 10-04-05, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
As a result, several pundits have penciled in the Spurs as repeat champions. Some of the more delirious fans even have forecast a 70-victory season.
Johnny Ludden has been lurking around SR.
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Old 10-04-05, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Eddy from Austin
Johnny Ludden has been lurking around SR.
Does this make us "pundits"? (...I always wanted to be a "pundit"...)
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Old 10-04-05, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
"As coaches, we have to create an environment where we don't allow anyone to skip a step or think that they've arrived," Popovich said. "It's our job to remind them that it takes a long journey to get to the top.

"In some ways it's the journey that makes the prize so sweet. If you try to cut that short, when June comes, you're going to be watching someone else on TV."
Good one Pop
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"We would have two less championships here if it wasn't for Manu Ginobili," Popovich said. "In my book, Manu Ginobili is the stud of the world.
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Old 10-04-05, 04:35 PM
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