Spurs’ shot doctor earns Joseph’s attention

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By Mike Monroe

When Spurs guard Cory Joseph showed up at the practice facility a week after the team’s elimination by the Thunder last season, there to greet him was shooting coach Chip Engelland.

When the former Longhorns’ star hit the gym in Austin with some of his pals from his University of Texas days, Engelland was there, too.

When the Spurs’ summer-league team walked into the Thomas and Mack Arena in Las Vegas for its first game, Engelland pulled Joseph aside for additional one-on-one shot doctoring.

So when Joseph opened the preseason against Montepaschi Siena by making 4 of 6 shots, including 1 of 2 from 3-point range, it was hard to tell who was happier: Joseph or Engelland.

“Man, I worked on my shot a lot this summer, countless hours,” Joseph said after scoring 10 points in the Spurs’ 106-77 victory Saturday night. “Chip and I spent a whole lot of time together, and I can’t tell you how much he helped my shot. Wherever I went, Chip found me or sent somebody to work with me. Here in San Antonio, in Austin, in Las Vegas. It didn’t matter, he was there, one way or the other.”

Joseph said Engelland’s message was simple: Find a way to get properly balanced before you attempt your shot and repeat that several thousand times.

“There was a specific workout we did every day,” Joseph said. “He’d change it up a little bit from time to time with different challenges as I’d progress from day to day. But it was mostly a lot of shots. I didn’t keep track but it was a lot.”

Joseph spent most of his 2011-12 rookie season with the Austin Toros, the Spurs’ Development League team. He appeared in only 29 NBA games, during which he shot just 31 percent. He figures he will have to earn time as one of point guard Tony Parker’s backups through his work at the defensive end, and his three steals in just under 15 minutes on Saturday did not escape coach Gregg Popovich’s notice.

“I was just trying to keep my head in the game defensively,” Joseph said. “I know that’s what Coach Pop looks for.

“That’s what this whole organization is about. So I just tried to key in defensively and make stops and help my team as much as possible.”

Day of rest: After four hard days of training camp and Saturday’s game, the Spurs got their first off day of the season Sunday. Popovich used the break to visit his friend and mentor, former Spurs coach Larry Brown, in Dallas, where Brown now coaches SMU. Popovich participated in a coaching clinic Brown sponsored on the SMU campus.

Twitter: @Monroe_SA

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