Mike Woodson: “The good thing about this year versus last year is that guys have bought into what we’re trying to get done”

November 15, 2012 – 10:00 am by Chris Fedor

The New York Knicks are undefeated. Okay, so maybe it has only been five games and maybe two of those wins have comes against the Philadelphia 76ers without Andrew Bynum, but the Knicks look good early on this season. The team not only has some new faces that were brought in this offseason but they also seem to have a new attitude. No longer are they just focused on scoring triple digits and making highlight reel plays but they are playing defense. Through five games, New York has the number one D in the NBA in terms of points allowed and that is a reflection of their head coach, Mike Woodson, who preaches defense on a daily basis. The Knicks next two games will be against two of the best teams in the Western Conference, Memphis and San Antonio, and these two can be used as a nice measuring stick. We will find out a lot about the Knicks in the next two but no matter what happens, this year’s Knicks team just has a different look and it’s not only the three new starters that were brought to the Big Apple this offseason.

Mike Woodson joined ESPN Radio in New York with Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco to talk about what his approach is when dealing with star players like Carmelo Anthony, what he thinks the difference is between last year’s team and this year’s team, on the difference between his coaching style and Mike D’Antoni’s and whether he will use these next few games for the Knicks as a measuring stick.

What his approach is when dealing with a player like Carmelo Anthony:

“My approach is just to coach. I think all players want to be coached and it’s just a matter of you pushing the right buttons when coaching a player and Melo is no different. Melo wants to be coached, he wants to win, he wants to do things the right way so it’s my job to make sure I put him in position to be successful and the system that we have defensively everybody has to try to buy in and see that it works. I’m not saying it’s always going to work, we’re not perfect by any means, we make mistakes defensively as a unit and individually we have breakdowns as well, but when the system is put in place we have to make sure that we at least attempt to do what’s asked and then if you don’t get it done it’s my job to point it out and see that we don’t continue to make those mistakes.”

On the difference between this year’s team and last year’s team:

“The good thing about this year’s team versus last year’s team is that we are a little bit deeper and guys have bought into what we’re trying to get done on the basketball floor. They have bought in off the court too. They’re committed and that’s the only way you’re going to win at a high level and even put yourself in position to possibly win a title. You have to be committed and that’s on both ends of the floor and off the floor you have to be committed. We’re getting those kinds of results from our players. They’re close to one another and they want to win so they play like they want to win and that’s why we’re 5-0 and we have a big test here in San Antonio.”

On the difference between his coaching style and Mike D’Antoni’s style:

“Well again I have so much respect for Mike because Mike gave me a job when I was out of a job and I came in and learned a lot from Mike and some of his offensive things I’m still using. I’ve added a lot of offensive things to what we’re doing this year but I think when I look at this year’s team compared to last year’s team, we’re not turning the ball over as much as we did last year so therefore we’re getting shots and we’re executing at a higher level and then our defense has just been solid. We have been able to go through camp and get the system down the way we want it done and guys have been able to go out on the court and execute it. I don’t know if it’s always right but these guys are buying in and playing hard and that’s why we’re sitting here 5-0 I think.”

Whether he is using this upcoming stretch of games, starting in San Antonio as a measuring stick for his team:

“We’re taking them one at a time and there’s no doubt that San Antonio is sitting right at the top. What Pop has done over the years with his organization and his team is amazing. He has the banners to back it up. Everybody seems to think every year that (Tony) Parker and (Manu) Ginobili and (Tim) Duncan are getting older and yeah they are getting older but they’re older players that know how to play. When these young guys come in that Pop puts around them they have no doubt that they have to buy in. There’s no doubt in their mind that they must buy in to what Pop, Duncan, Ginobil and Parker. The banners are there to speak for them. To me it’s an easy transition for anyone that puts on a San Antonio uniform with Pop being the ringleader. He runs the show and he’s very successful at it. It will be a major test for our ballclub just to see where we are but we have played some good teams. Philadelphia is not a slouchy team, they’re a pretty good team and Dallas is a pretty good team even though they were shorthanded. And Miami, it doesn’t get much better than that so this will be another test for our ballclub to see where we are, playing a great team on their floor.”

Listen to Mike Woodson on ESPN Radio in NY here

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