Former Suns assistant faces tough climb in charge of Grizzlies Print
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Thursday, 31 May 2007 22:00
NBA Headline News

 MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -New Memphis Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni says he has a plan to help resurrect the worst team in the league - speed it up and introduce some of the flair shown by his former Phoenix Suns.
On Thursday he vowed to return the sense of competition the Grizzlies seem to have misplaced in a 22-60 run last season.
``You compete in a drill. You compete in a scrimmage. You compete in a preseason game. You compete in one minute or you compete in 41 minutes. That's going to be a trademark of our team,'' Iavaroni said.
Team owner Michael Heisley said Iavaroni's coaching style with an emphasis on ``positive reinforcement'' will work well with younger players like Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry and Hakim Warrick.
``With his background, with his personality ... he'll be the right guy for a young upcoming Grizzlies team,'' Heisley said.
Iavaroni said he will pick up the pace of the Grizzlies' play, something that has repeatedly worked for a Suns team led by two-time reigning MVP Steve Nash.
``We want to attack the opponent,'' he said. ``We want to make sure we're attacking before the defense is set and at the same time we want to make sure we go a great job of setting our defense as quickly as possible.''
With the Suns, Iavaroni was a lead assistant for five seasons under coach Mike D'Antoni. He was an assistant under Pat Riley at Miami from 1999-02 and an assistant under Fratello at Cleveland from 1997-99. Iavaroni played in the NBA from 1982-89 with Philadelphia, San Antonio and Utah.
``I've always been noted for my enthusiasm, my passion for the game,'' he said. ``We're going to instill in them a continuing passion for winning, a passion for preparation and a passion for honest competition.''
A selling point for Iavaroni with Memphis was Heisley's pledge of cooperation between the management and coaching staffs, to the point of giving the new coach input on choosing a general manager to replace Jerry West.
Heisley acknowledged he has talked with David Griffin, the Suns' vice president of basketball operations, about the general manager job. But he said he has also talked with ``some other people'' and does not expect to make a decision until mid-June. Iavaroni said he will be consulted about that choice.
``It'll be important what I think,'' he said. ``But at the same time, that's not going to be my decision.''
The Grizzlies began last season with All-Star Pau Gasol missing the first 22 games recovering from a broken left foot. Lowry broke his left wrist and missed 71 games.
For several months during the season, talk about the pending sale of the franchise raised doubts about the team's future. The proposed sale to a group led by former Duke teammates Brian Davis and Christian Laettner ultimately fell through, and Heisley said he was taking the Grizzlies off the market.
Before moving to Memphis from Vancouver in 2001, the Grizzlies were regularly near the bottom of the standings. But West, one of the league's top executives, joined the franchise in 2002 and the Grizzlies were in the playoffs two years later.
The Grizzlies were swept in all three playoff appearances, however, and have the league's longest postseason losing streak.
 

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