Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Express News: Undrafted Tolliver Shoots For Spot On Spurs' Roster


Mike Monroe - Express-News

Two games into a preseason Anthony Tolliver hopes will prove he merits a spot on the Spurs' roster, the rookie free agent already has shown coach Gregg Popovich he understands the most important truth of pro basketball: Shooters must shoot, no matter what.

Signed by the Spurs after making an amazing 16 of 28 3-pointers in seven summer league games, he has made only five of 24 shots in the team's two preseason games.

The 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward was 2 for 10 in Friday's 89-84 loss to the New Orleans Hornets at the AT&T Center, with both makes from 3-point range.

“My shots haven't been falling,” he said after Friday's contest, in which he also grabbed a game-high six rebounds, “but that's something that they know I can do, and I know I can do.

“So, I'm going to keep shooting when I'm open. It's not really a big deal.”

An over-abundance of adrenalin likely resulted in long-range inaccuracy in his first two games. Each of his 3-point misses was on line. Most were slightly long.

“I think there's something going on with his shot,” assistant coach Mike Budenholzer said, “whether it's pressing, or he's just too excited. We've noticed that most of his shots are on the back of the rim. He's geeked up. We've got to get him to cut back on the Cheerios in the morning.”

Preseason relaxation is a rare commodity for an NBA rookie without a guaranteed contract. Tolliver acknowledges he has been trying too hard.

“The majority of my shots are directly on,” Tolliver said, “but just a little too strong,” Tolliver said. “Tim (Duncan) keeps telling me to just slow down a little bit and calm down, but it's kind of hard in the first couple of games. (Thursday) was the first game, and this was the first home game, so it was hard to relax. I'm sure I will start doing what I do.”

Tolliver's willingness to keep shooting has impressed the coaches.

“I think the fact he keeps shooting and stays aggressive is a great sign,” said Budenholzer. “He's a great shooter, and when you're a great shooter you've got to keep shooting.”

The Spurs see Tolliver as the sort of sweet-shooting big man they use to open the floor, much as Robert Horry did in his five seasons with the Spurs. Shooting alone, though, won't earn him a roster spot.

“Coach Pop told me this summer he saw that I can shoot it,” Tolliver said, “and now I have to prove I can rebound and defend at this level. I think I've done a pretty good job, especially rebounding. I've tried to concentrate on the defensive rotations and make it my main focus.”

Back to work: After giving his players a day off after their back-to-back preseason games, Popovich scheduled a morning practice today.

They also are to practice on Monday morning before flying in the afternoon to Grand Rapids, Mich., where they will play the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday.

Their only extended road trip of the preseason will continue Thursday, when they are to meet the Cavaliers at Cleveland's Gund Arena.

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