Popovich keeps tried, true practice pattern

By Mike Monroe

After a day off that followed a game in which nobody played as many as 22 minutes, the Spurs knew what to expect from Monday’s practice session: One of the longest days of the preseason, a practice stretching well past three hours.

Veterans of past camps under coach Gregg Popovich weren’t surprised.

“Actually, the first three days was the same,” said All-NBA point guard Tony Parker, now in his 12th Spurs camp. “Especially coming off a day off, we knew Pop was going to be intense and it was going to be a long practice.

“I don’t mind. You can’t complain with Pop. He does a great job resting guys. All the stuff we do makes sense. He’s not that hard if you want to go far and get back to where we were last year. You can’t skip steps.”

Even after Monday’s three-hour practice, most of the team’s big men could be seen working with San Antonio boxing icon James Leija in the weight training room, firing punch combinations that Leija caught with padded gloves.

Tim Duncan, in particular, looked as if he had the makings of a potential pro fighter.

Conspicuously absent from the boxing workouts: Matt Bonner, who spent his post-practice time getting up dozens of 3-point shots.

“No boxing for me,” Bonner said. “I grew up on the streets of Concord, New Hampshire. I’m quick with the fists. Quick with the one-two.”

Second and third opinions: Though rookie Nando De Colo’s floor game and slick passing prompted veteran teammate Stephen Jackson to declare that he was “another Manu Ginobili,” Parker and fellow French Olympian Boris Diaw were slightly more realistic about the young guard from Arras, France.

“In a sense, he is,” Parker said, “because he’ll do some crazy pass or go for crazy steals. But he’s got a long way to be like Manu. So we can say he’s like a poor Manu right now. But he definitely has the skills and that kind of flashy (style). I remember in a timeout Pop was joking, ‘I have one Manu. I don’t need two.’

“You’ll give him a heart attack with two Manus on the team.”

Diaw hadn’t heard about Jackson’s comparison and couldn’t quite believe he had made it.

“Jack said that?” Diaw said. “In some ways, the way (Nando) plays in the passing game. But Manu’s unique.”

Back to work: Backup center Tiago Splitter, who sat out Saturday’s preseason game against Italian team Montepaschi Siena with back spasms, was a full participant in Monday’s workout.

Twitter: @Monroe_SA

Leave a Reply