Larry Drew wants Hawks running in motion offense

Larry Drew wants the Atlanta Hawks to pick up the pace this

season and run even in their half-court attack.

Drew, the first-year head coach, drove the point home on the

first day of training camp last week. He took the team to the

Georgia Tech track for timed mile runs.

It was clear from the start this would be a different training

camp for the Hawks.

”We had never done that before,” said center Zaza Pachulia,

who is entering his sixth season in Atlanta, after Wednesday’s

practice. ”It was something different that set the tone from the

beginning.”

The conditioning test was no surprise. Drew warned the players

about a month before training camp, and they were ready for the

challenge.

Every player met Drew’s standard of under 7 minutes.

Joe Johnson had the team’s fastest time at 5 minutes, 30

seconds. Another guard, Jeff Teague, was second at 6 minutes. The

surprise was the 6-foot-11, 275-pound Pachulia finishing third at

6:07.

The run provided statistical evidence the Hawks can run,

including such big men as Pachulia, Al Horford and Josh Smith.

Drew is installing a motion offense to take advantage of the

athleticism.

”I see a lot of positives coming out thus far of the work we’ve

put in, and I’m starting to see the guys catch on,” Drew said this

week.

Drew, 52, has been an NBA assistant coach for 18 years,

including the last six as former coach Mike Woodson’s top

assistant. He played 11 seasons with the Pistons, Kings, Clippers

and Lakers.

This is Drew’s long-awaited chance to direct a team, and it’s

clear his vision for the Hawks includes much running.

It’s not as if the Hawks never ran under Woodson.

Atlanta ranked fourth in the league with 16.2 fast-break points

per game last season, according to STATS, Inc. The problem was the

Hawks sometimes slowed to a crawl in their half-court offense. That

trend was painfully evident when they were swept by Orlando in the

Eastern Conference semifinals.

There was widespread criticism that too many Atlanta players

stood around, waiting for Johnson to create a scoring opportunity

for himself.

Drew wants his team to be on the move in its half-court attack

as well as on the break. He says the motion attack will create

scoring opportunities for more players while also helping

Johnson.

”I’m starting to see Joe start to find his way to where his

scoring opportunities are,” Drew said. ”And out of this offense,

it allows him to be himself but at the same time it puts other

people to where they can be successful.

”I’m starting to see a trust factor take place among the group

where they know where everyone is and everybody is in a position

where it all best suits them.”

Practice ends each day with a conditioning drill Drew said he

learned with the Lakers. Three players run with one ball up and

down the floor, using three passes one way and five passes on the

way back, with layups on each end.

Up and back. Over and over. There can be no turnovers, no drops,

no missed layups.

”Do it right and we do it once!” Smith reminded his teammates

at the end of Monday’s practice, repeating the mantra from

Drew.

Drew liked what he heard Smith and what he saw in the drill.

”There you go,” Drew said, referring to Smith’s challenge.

”They already know what type of pace that I’m looking for when

they do it.

”We do a good bit of running within our practice, and that’s

just a nice way to cap it off, just to finish off on a positive

note. That positive note is showing freshness at the end just as

they had freshness at the beginning. It forces them to focus moving

up and down the floor with the basketball.”

The Hawks play Memphis in their preseason opener on Thursday

night. Pachulia said he is eager to for a chance to see the offense

in a game.

”The ball will be swinging from side to side, bodies will be

moving around instead of the isolation offense that we were running

most of the time last year,” Pachulia said. ”It makes it fun.

”Offensively, we know we have very athletic guys. We know we

have players who can run the floor. That’s why most of the guys are

fit and it’s easier for most of the guys to fit into this kind of

motion offense.”

Added Pachulia: ”We need to get used to playing this way,

because this is our bread and butter.”

Note: The Hawks have exercised their option on guard Jeff Teague

for the 2011-12 season for about $1.58 million. Teague averaged 3.2

points and 1.7 assists as a rookie last season and is expected to

play a larger role and possibly start at point guard this

season.