In an interview with the Traverse City Record-Eagle, Michael Curry talked about setting the tone early for the 2008-09 season:
When you start camp (Sept. 30), and get the players together for the first time, what will your message be?
First of all, I'm going to address the trade talk. That stuff happens. I'm going to tell them that we're happy to see everybody here and let them know how much we understand and appreciate the great job they've done the last six or seven years. Immediately after that, I'll explain that 20 years ago, during the Bad Boys era, this team was really good. But the Bad Boys era didn't carry over to the team that won the championship in 2004. There was a distance in between. I want them to understand there's also a distance between 2004 and now. This is a new era. We no longer have meaningless regular season games. Regular season games mean something to us. We've been consistent and we've been good, but we haven't been the best at the end the last four seasons. We want to get back on top. Until then, we're fighting an uphill battle. That's what I want the guys to understand.
That's great to hear and it makes an excellent sound bite, but is anyone actually worried about the regular season? The Pistons won 59 games last year, which quietly tied for third-most in team history. Not only that, it seems like they won most of those games going away, running out to a huge lead after three quarters before handing it over to the Zoo Crew in the fourth.
In hindsight, if anyone took the regular season for granted last year it was the coaching staff. The Pistons were one of the deepest teams in the regular season last year (mathematically speaking, only the Spurs were deeper), and yet come playoff time, Flip Saunders choked up the rotation and relied almost exclusively on veterans. Talk about a guy showing that the first 82 meant nothing to him ...
Trouble is, "conventional wisdom" says Saunders did absolutely nothing wrong. Everybody knows that teams shorten the rotation in the playoffs, right? Well, when's the last time that conventional wisdom won an NBA title? Teams that make calculated risks to separate themselves form the pack win titles, not those concerned with "playing it safe." Here's to hoping that Curry feels secure enough as a first-year coach to realize that come playoff time.
While answering another question, Curry also revealed that he's taking this "Rodney Stuckey as sixth starter" business seriously:
Do you see an expanded role for second-year pro Rodney Stuckey?
We look at Rodney Stuckey as a sixth starter. He's capable of starting for most teams in this league. We have to find a way to get him 30 minutes a game. We expect a lot out him. He expects a lot out of himself.