--Hawks GM Rick Sund wasn't thinking about long lines at gas stations when he decided the Hawks would stay at a downtown hotel for training camp. His was a purely business move designed to tighten the operation at the start of a new season.One of the unintended benefits of having the players, as well as head coach Mike Woodson and other members of the training staff, stay in a hotel walking distance from Philips Arena has been their ability to sit out the current gas crisis that has folks all over the metro area scrambling to fill up their tanks.
"That's definitely one of the benefits of being at the hotel," Hawks captain Joe Johnson said. "You keep seeing the stuff on the news and all you can do is hope it all gets worked out as soon as possible, because things are crazy for everybody."
Not for the Hawks, who are practicing during the day and then meeting for a team dinner in the early evening and then moving on to "skull sessions" after that before retiring to their rooms for a little rest and relaxation.
Woodson said the change in structure has turned out to be a perfect move for a team trying to incorporate a few new players to the mix while also getting everyone adjusted to the policies and procedures of a new front office staff.
"It's certainly not about babysitting these guys or anything like that because they're grown men," Woodson said. "But in a lot of ways this is like what we went through during the playoffs in terms of us being in close quarters and everybody being focused on the task at hand every day. From a coaching standpoint this is excellent, because we get to watch film with these guys and really hammer home what we're trying to do as a team."
Sund put a target on training camp shortly after being hired to replace Billy Knight. With a team full of what he likes to call "young veterans," he's been focused on making sure that the players comprehend just how important their role is in moving the franchise forward from its sketchy recent past.
"I think this training camp is so important, and that's why we're at the hotel and why we're having team dinners every night and skull sessions every night," Sund said. "We need to be focused. We're a little bit old school here, just for the week."
--While the rush of excitement on media day included first looks (for many people) at the familiar names and faces that helped the Hawks to the playoffs last season, C Randolph Morris held down his corner of the room in relative obscurity.
That's not an easy task for a man who is 6-foot-11 and 275 pounds, but since signing his free agent deal with the Hawks over the summer, Morris blended in as well as anyone. While appearances by his more high-profile teammates made a bigger splash during summer workouts, it was Morris who made it to the weight room and gym every day during the offseason.
"I didn't have nothing else to do," Morris said and then laughed. "Seriously, though, I'm trying to make my mark. I had to be in here every day. I had to go to work. I had to be back in this gym to get my game right."
No one was happier than Morris to get on the floor for the start of the contact work of training camp. When he targeted the Hawks during the early stages of free agency, he pointed to camp as his first real chance to make an impression.
"The opportunity is what I make it," Morris said. "That's why I'm going to continue to work my hardest and try and get in where I fit in."
Morris didn't have the same opportunity to earn a spot in the rotation in his previous NBA stop, in New York. With a roster stocked with high-salaried big men and the cosmic dysfunction that plagued the Knicks over the past few years, his initial voyage into pro basketball was an adventure, to say the least.
"Every team has its own vibes, and it trickles down from the management and the coaches and how your infrastructure works," Morris said. "Right here, it's just a totally different setup and one that fits where I am right now. So if I just work, grind every single day and bring that lunch pail with me at all times, I think I'll be able to get where I want to be this season."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't plan on taking any 3s this year, coach." -- Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson's response when coach Mike Woodson informed the entire team that anyone interested in shooting 3-pointers this season would be required to work before or after practice with assistant coach Jim Todd or new shooting coach Mark Price. Johnson was joking, of course.