By Michael Schwartz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
While the Suns had training camp in Tucson last week, they left without the services of star forward Amaré Stoudemire, whose left knee injury caused him to miss the last three days of camp and Saturday's scrimmage.
A team doctor, Thomas Carter, discovered during preliminary surgery yesterday that Stoudemire had more extensive damage in his knee than previously thought, The Associated Press reported yesterday.
The all-star underwent a second procedure that will him keep out of action for at least the first three months of the regular season.
The Suns sent out a news release yesterday that stated Carter fixed a joint surface on the inside of Stoudamire's left knee that was about 1 centimeter wide.
"The surgery went well, and other than the defect that we treated today, Amaré's knee is remarkably and structurally healthy," Carter said in a statement released by the team. "Given Amaré's age and the nominal size of the location of the defect, I am confident the microfracture procedure performed will allow a healthy and normal return to action."
Suns enjoy stay in Tucson
The Suns wrapped up training camp in Tucson Sunday morning, as many players and coaches gave the city's atmosphere and the university's facilities rave reviews.
After an NAU home football game forced the Suns out of Walkup Skydome, where they had held training camp 16 of the last 19 years, McKale Center proved a worthy alternative.
"They had great facilities, and the people have been very hospitable," said Suns guard Steve Nash. "It's been a blast."
The Suns spent most of their time grinding through two-a-day practices in McKale or relaxing at the posh Westin La Paloma hotel, making the experience enjoyable off the court, especially for guard Raja Bell.
"Tucson's been great for me. ... I like it," he said. "Everybody's been real cool, from the people here at the McKale Center to all the students that see us."
With 10 players new to the team, training camp helped them get to know one another in a variety of settings.
"I thought we had a really good camp," Nash said. "We know a lot more about each other and ourselves.
"I think we learned some things, most importantly (that) our offense is improved," he said. "Early in practice, when we were just getting to know each other, it got really bogged down, and it really opened up in the (intrasquad) scrimmage."
Guard Eddie House said the Suns grew as a team during training camp.
"Everybody's getting along from the coaching staff to the players," said House, a former ASU player. "It's a great relationship for everybody. We're just building, getting better and making our push for the championship."
Ex-Sun Devil still not welcome at McKale
Although he left school in 2000, House still received boos from many of the 7,688 in attendance during player introductions at the scrimmage in McKale.
As House was introduced as a member of the Orange team, he flashed Sun Devil pitchforks at the crowd, prompting some to boo louder.
"I wasn't expecting that because I'm here with the Suns, but I guess I'll always be a Sun Devil," House said. "I guess that's how they looked at it, so I let them know that I will always be a Sun Devil and threw it up for them."
One man not booing House was his college coach during his freshman year, former Sun Devils coach Bill Frieder.
"He brought me to the desert," House said. "He was a guy who, (when I was) a freshman, gave me a lot of confidence to come in and shoot the ball."
Fans forget Nash's first-round upset
In the first round of the 1993 NCAA Tournament, No. 15-seed Santa Clara upset No. 2-seed Arizona 64-61 in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. The then-short-haired freshman point guard Nash nailed six straight pressure free throws to seal the game for the Broncos.
Twelve years later, he has earned NBA MVP honors and developed legions of fans in Tucson.
"They were great to me," Nash said. "I appreciate that."
"It was a lot of fun coming to play here in front of the fans," he said. "This is a Wildcat city, but hopefully they can really take pride in us, as well."
Wildcats take in practice
While the Suns' two-a-day practices were closed to the public all last week, many Arizona men's basketball players managed to sneak in to view the workouts.
Junior forward Ivan Radenovic said Sunday's practice was the third he attended.
"This is good experience for us, just to make sure you know what to expect for training camp when you get to the NBA," he said.
Junior point guard Mustafa Shakur attended the session Oct. 4 specifically to watch Nash work his trade.
"This is an opportunity to be around pros and watch Steve going around the court, trying to pick up some things," Shakur said.
With the Suns' offseason acquisitions of center Kurt Thomas and Bell, Radenovic said he has high hopes for a Phoenix team that he figured will play less of a run-and-gun style this year after watching them practice.
"They're going to focus on defense," Radenovic said. "They're going all the way this year."
'Polkey' remembered before scrimmage
The Suns honored Shawntinice "Polkey" Polk with a moment of silence and her picture on the Jumbotron before Saturday's scrimmage.
Polk passed away Sept. 26 from a blood clot in her lungs. She was an all-Pacific 10 Conference first-team selection all three years she played as a center for the Arizona women's basketball team.