Amar’e Stoudemire Says He is Learning Defense for the First Time

by January 03, 2013

Perhaps unintentionally, Amar’e Stoudemire took a shot at his former head coach Mike D’Antoni, while praising his current one Mike Woodson. When it comes to defense, Stoudemire says it’s the first time it has become a point of emphasis (which is a comment he has made in the past.) Per Newsday: “Just having a defensive coach for the first time in my career is going to help,’ Stoudemire said. ‘I’ve never been taught defense in my whole career. To now have a coach that actually teaches defense and teaches strategies and knows positioning and posture and how to guard different plays is going to be helpful. I’m going to take it as a challenge, accept the challenge and try to improve as a player.’ Stoudemire, a high school-to-NBA player, was selected in the first round in 2002 by Phoenix and had eight seasons with the Suns and D’Antoni as his head coach before coming to the Knicks. Woodson, who was the Knicks’ defensive assistant under D’Antoni last season before becoming head coach, has changed the way they guard the pick-and-roll this year. Stoudemire is a little behind in where he needs to be defensively and in the terminology, and was out of position several times Tuesday against the Trail Blazers. He was not the only Knick. Woodson harped on defense throughout Wednesday’s practice because the Knicks have had major slippage on that end of the court. They have allowed at least 100 points in eight of their last 12 games. They yielded 100 five times in the first 19. Woodson hinted at switching up the starting lineup Thursday night against San Antonio since the Knicks have opened games flat lately. But Stoudemire won’t be the new addition. Woodson isn’t divulging Stoudemire’s long-term role. For now, at least, Woodson says Stoudemire will come off the bench and play limited minutes. To his credit, Stoudemire continues to say this works for him, especially if the Knicks are winning. ‘Depending on how we’re playing, if we’re playing well, I have no problem coming off the bench,’ Stoudemire said.”