New defensive specialist and coordinator, Elston Turner, had his first meeting with the media today since becoming the newest member of the Phoenix Suns coaching staff. Turner was hired by the Suns on July 11th after being handpicked by Suns head coach Alvin Gentry to be the defensive coach/coordinator. He now joins fellow Suns assistants Dan Majerle, Bill Cartwright, Igor Kokoskov, and Noel Gillespie on the coaching staff; but with the unique responsibility of teaching the team how to play effective defense and incorporate it into their style of play.
In an article by Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, Elston Turner briefly covered some of his plans to address both team and individual defensive performance alike, in hopes of improving last seasons 26th ranked defense and league-worst 30th ranked rebounding. Although he is currently limited on what he can work on in regards to the specifics of his job, due to the lockout, Turner still sounded prepared to take on the challenge and confident that he can effectively utilize the talent on the team to create a new defensive identity.
Some of the more interesting points Turner covered in his media address included a plan to commit 40 minutes of each practice to working on defense. Since the Suns are already known for having relatively short practices compared to other teams, one would assume that this would mean practice times will also increase next season to accommodate this new commitment. Another interesting topic Turner covered was how he could help Steve Nash become a fantastic team defender and an effective solo defender by helping him utilize his proven ability to read the plays before they happen.
Whether or not Elston Turner will actually be able to change the attitude and the overall culture of the team remains to be seen. However, it is evident that the Suns are committed to improving their defense in the coming seasons. If Elston Turner receives the necessary support from the rest of the coaching staff and can also get the players to buy into his methods, the Suns may finally find a solution to their biggest issue which has plagued them since the Mike D'antoni days.