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Wed, May 22

Training Camp Report: NAZ Suns addressing weaknesses in second week
NBA G League

Northern Arizona’s Eric Stuteville goes up for a basket Dec. 22, 2017, in Prescott Valley. On Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, he was one of seven players to score in double figures. However, Northern Arizona lost to Texas, 126-107. (Les Stukenberg/Courier, file)

Northern Arizona’s Eric Stuteville goes up for a basket Dec. 22, 2017, in Prescott Valley. On Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, he was one of seven players to score in double figures. However, Northern Arizona lost to Texas, 126-107. (Les Stukenberg/Courier, file)

Suns set to open 2018-19 season against Santa Cruz Warriors on Saturday at PV Event Center

PRESCOTT VALLEY — With five days left until the 2018-19 season tips off for the Northern Arizona Suns, the club was putting in their work at practice Monday afternoon, making adjustments and addressing some of the weaknesses they saw during the scrimmage this past weekend.

“For us it was practice No. 7, it was good chance to see us against another team and not playing against ourselves,” first-year Suns head coach Brett Burchard said at the Prescott Valley Event Center on Monday. “We figured out what we needed to work on, and gave us a focus for the next week of practice.”

Northern Arizona made its first five shots and took a 12-0 lead against the South Bay Lakers on Saturday in El Segundo, California, but cooled off in the second half and suffered a 118-89 defeat.

The Suns started Peter Jok, George King, Daxter Miles Jr., Derek Cooke Jr. and NBA G League first-round draft pick Aaron Epps.

Burchard said Saturday’s affair was more for the players they don’t know a whole lot about, however, so any kind of seven-or eight-man rotation was not used.

The first-year coach pointed out the efforts of Epps and Miles in the first week of camp, stating they’ve had a “really good first week” of practice. Burchard said Tidjan Keita has “made progress” from where he was a year ago, and said big man Eric Stuteville has provided something his team doesn’t have much of, at least not yet.

“We have nobody like him. His physicality, his size. He’s been really good with his ball-screen defense, his communication and being an anchor at the rim for us. But that’s what I like most, he gives us something different. Everyone in practice loves to play with him, and hates to play against him, because the game gets really physical when he gets involved,” Burchard said with a laugh.

Cooke said it’s been tough to get in a rhythm with as many as 16 guys in camp, because any one player may not get the repetitions he usually does during the regular season. Despite that, Cooke said he’s been impressed so far.

“I see a lot of great things from a lot of guys,” Cooke said.

Two-way player George King said the group as a whole were able to learn a little bit about what their weaknesses may be at the scrimmage Saturday, and the team was able to begin correcting them Monday at practice.

“We took a couple steps in the right direction in fixing things as a team, so the scrimmage was great for us (in that aspect),” King said.

TWO PLAYERS CUT

Forwards Anthony Lefeau and James Pegues were waived by the Suns on Monday, bringing the training camp roster down to 14 players.

Both Lefeau and Pegues were local tryout players. Two local tryout players still remain in camp with Wayne McCullough and Retin Obasohan at practice Monday.

G League clubs are required to cut their roster down to 10 players by Friday, but can have two additional players if they are playing with the organization under a two-way contract. Thus, King would make No. 11 once the Suns cut the roster down later this week.

SHOWCASE

Last week, the league announced its schedule for the 2018 MGM Resorts NBA G League Winter Showcase, which is set for Dec. 19-22 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Northern Arizona is scheduled to play the Windy City Bulls on Dec. 19, and the Erie BayHawks on Dec. 21.

The four-day, 27-game scouting event feature’s the league’s 27 teams each playing two regular-season games in front of representatives from all 30 NBA clubs.

This year’s event is the first time it will be held in December, allowing NBA personnel to evaluate G League talent ahead of the 10-day signing period and two-way guarantee deadline.

Brian M. Bergner Jr. is news/sports editor for The Daily Courier of Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud at @TheEditorDesk. Email bbergner@prescottaz.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.

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