Notebook: Hornacek No-Nonsense, Practice Report

Barry Gossage/NBAE

Teaching moments have been frequent for Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek, but the manner in which he uses them is worth noting.

Roughly 12 hours after NBA.com lauded Hornacek’s ability infuse the right amount of intensity when communicating with players, the first-year head coach exhibited that very same quality in the second half of Friday night’s game against Toronto.

Suns rookie Archie Goodwin had just mishandled a defensive assignment on Raptors star guard DeMar DeRozan. During the next stoppage in play, Hornacek didn’t mince words or tone while communicating the nature of the error to 19-year-old guard.

The coach’s vocal displeasure, howver, was the extent of Goodwin’s punishment. The rookie was not immediately subbed out for his error as many coaches are prone to do. Instead he remained on the court and played meaningful minutes to help Phoenix pull away, especially on the defensive end.

“You’ve got to balance it,” Hornacek said of the tones of communication toward young players. “As coaches, we don’t like to use the youth thing as an excuse. We’re going to get on these guys and they can’t let it be an excuse. We’re going to push them to get better. I think if you accept it and just say ‘okay, that’s alright Archie. You’ll get it next time,’ that doesn’t help him in the long run.”

Back to work

The Suns were allowed to come in for volunatary workouts on Saturday if they wanted to, but were banned from the gym on Sunday after the team went through a stretch of eight games in 12 days.

“I like the mental days just to get away from basketball so you can come back and play and you’re excited to play," Hornacek said. "It doesn’t turn into a job.”

The team shook off the rust before ending practice with a high-energy scrimmage. This week will mark the Suns' first without a back-to-back set of games since Nov. 15.

“We went through a little stretch there with a bunch of back-to-backs, a bunch of games," P.J. Tucker said. "I think, mentally, for the guys to get a couple days off, refresh a little bit, get ready for this little Christmas stretch. You kind of need it sometimes.”

Good Weekend for Frye

Smiles don’t get much bigger than the one Channing Frye sported Monday morning, and for good reason. His alma mater Arizona Wildcat men’s hoops team was ranked No. 1 in the nation. Arizona State had lost in the Pac-12 football championship game.

Finally, the veteran big man turned in a vicious, left-handed dunk in traffic toward the end of scrimmage, Monday, a show of athleticism that punctuated how far he has come since being forced to miss a year-and-a-half of basketball.

“I told them, ‘about December, I’m gonna catch somebody,’ Frye laughed. “They got caught today. It happens.”

Bledsoe’s Birthday

Eric Bledsoe got the singing treatment Monday morning courtesy of his turning 25 years old. The team made a passable attempt at staying on-pitch, something Hornacek pegged as an improvement.

“You should have heard them at the beginning of the year,” he laughed. “They’ve gotten better.”