After his team was eliminated last night, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spoke one last time to the media about the 2011 season.
“It was a disappointing end to a wonderful season.” Popovich said of the 2011 season, “I think we did a wonderful job this season, something that nobody expected us to do.”
“Memphis deserves a lot of credit, they played better than we did. Like I told the players, I can’t think of somebody on Memphis who didn’t play well.”
When asked what changes will be made, Pop said they’ll go through the same off-season routine.
“You move on, we’ll have our meetings like we do every year whether we win it all or don’t. And (we’ll) get ready for next season.”
“As I told the team, the only real change I wish we could have changed was when we lost our rhythm at the end of the season.” Continued Pop, “Timmy going down for all those games followed by Manu going down, I think it really did hurt our rhythm. It’s not an excuse, it’s a fact that we didn’t really go into the playoffs with that rhythm and that “mojo” that you like to have going in. And to some degree that hurt us. And after that Memphis’ good play hurt us.”
When asked how his young players played, Popovich felt they played well. “Gary Neal was pretty consistent the whole way. Tiago and DeJuan did a good job during the season; Tiago didn’t get much of an opportunity with the injuries and that kind of thing.” Pop looks toward next season, “We look forward to having all those guys back and putting it together again.”
Most Spurs writers have been questioning the issue of size in the frontline, Pop knew this was an issue.
“Their defense was excellent. To some extent that was size and strength, they really manhandled us in situations where we couldn’t get anything done scoring wise.” Pop simply put it, “Size was definitely a factor.”
Pop said that someone had asked him recently that if the Spurs lost in round one if he’d blow up the team? He responded, “That’s just the most preposterous attitude to have because 29 teams lose. It’s important to take time and reflect.”
Spurs forward Antonio McDyess has said he will retire. Popovich is not going to be one to put any pressure on him to return, “We’re not going to fight him, he’s gong to make his own decision. But if he does retire, as much as a player, but as much as a person we’re going to miss him. He’s one of the finest human beings I’ve ever been associated with and he commands huge, huge buckets of respect from his teammates. Pop continued on McDyess, “Just the way he conducts himself on a daily basis. He’s just a wonderful man, if he does retire we’ll really miss him in that leadership role.”
The next question was whether or not Tim Duncan is at full strength, Pop said, “That’s irrelevant now, he’s a warrior, he comes to play, he doesn’t make excuses.”
The looming question is whether or not Tim Duncan will hang up his jersey too if there’s an extended lockout. Popovich said this of his future hall of famer, “I don’t see why he wouldn’t? I haven’t talked to him about the next few years or what he plans on doing.”