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News » Jazz turning their focus to defense

Jazz turning their focus to defense

Jazz turning their focus to defense A movie-theater-like marquee has not been installed outside the Utah Jazz's practice facility. But if one goes up soon at the Zions Bank Basketball Center, don't be surprised if it reads something like this: "Now showing: The Hustler, Fast & Furious, and Bring It On." They're all rated D for defense, of course. Two-thumbs-down movie puns aside, Jazz players and coaches are spending a lot of time in the film room this year.

It isn't to watch Hollywood's latest flick, either. Tired of viewing their guys play defense like they were acting out the titles of movies such as "Dazed and Confused" and "Superbad," the coaching staff decided to make the team watch more footage of scrimmage sessions and games this season. The Jazz's cozy in-house movie theater doesn't come equipped with popcorn machines or candy selections like their owner's many megaplexes. But Jazz players are embracing the matinees. After all, they don't want this year to be a sequel to last year's defensive flop. "We're focused on it a lot," Carlos Boozer said. "We're watching a lot more tape." Not long ago considered one of the stingiest and feistiest defenses in the league, the Jazz D has steadily gotten worse over the past four years. Last year's team struggled on the court about as much as Paris Hilton does on the big screen. The Jazz allowed 100.9 points per game, marking the first time Utah foes have averaged triple-digit scoring since 1992-93. Deron Williams was surprised how little time the Jazz spent in film sessions in his first four years. Coach Jerry Sloan admits it, too. That coaching method just hasn't been his style. He'd rather make players learn and improve on the court during intense practices. And that still happens, of course. But the Hall of Famer is trying to adapt to the YouTube generation of players now on his roster who like the help of visual aids so they can see a picture of how to play better defense. Williams admires Sloan for being "old school," but the point guard also likes that he is going out of his comfort zone to help the Jazz find a more comfortable defensive zone, so to speak. "He's said we're going to watch a lot more film this year, which I think is important to show guys where we make mistakes," Williams said. "Sometimes you can say it, but it's hard to comprehend it or maybe you want to look past it until you see yourself on film. Then you've got to be held accountable." Coaches decided to incorporate more film sessions following last year's early playoff exit and after seeing teams consistently light them up. "If guys aren't going to get out and try to do it, we've got try to figure out some way to watch and see if they can learn that way," Sloan said of his decision to watch more film. "The idea was to try to build a little bit more from defensive standpoint," he added. "We feel like we'll score. We think we can score points, but we've got to be able to stop the other team more often." And seeing is believing. "Hopefully, guys can see what they did wrong," Sloan said. Hopefully, they'll see improvement from correcting those mistakes the next time out on the court, too. But even if this old dog teaches himself new tricks, Sloan admits his young pups are ultimately the ones who have to implement what they see on the screen. He blames himself in part for last year's defensive woes, but he points out that players have a responsibility. It's up to each guy to stay in front of his man and be cognizant when others need help. "We can provide it for them," Sloan said of the film feedback. "But if they don't do the work and they don't have the ability to try to stay after it, then it won't make a lot of difference." Boozer, having professed a newfound desire to be a defensive stalwart, is excited the Jazz are watching film daily now. "This is my sixth year and we've never done that," he said. "That just tells you how important of an emphasis that we're putting on our defense much more than ever before." They're not just talking this year, the power forward insists. Players are, however, ending huddles with a "Defense!" yell to keep their focus fresh when they're not in cushy seats. "We're learning from it. We're seeing it on an everyday basis," Boozer said. "That's how you improve ? by seeing what you can do better to get better." The Jazz coaches are stressing a "trust each other, help each other" attitude, and Boozer says the players have bought into it. "We've never done that before," he said. "That's why I think this year is going to be a huge defensive statement for us." Perhaps an NBA championship video will be the reward? "For us to be a true contender ? not a team that's exciting to watch or team that can make some noise ? but to be a contender to win the whole thing, our defense has to be at that championship level," Boozer said. "And that's what our coaches are focusing on this season," he added. "I think it's going to pay off." e-mail:

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 4, 2009


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