Blog Entry

Channing Frye: Mr. Sensitive

Posted on: May 24, 2010 6:14 pm
PHOENIX – Channing Frye moved around the 3-point line, draining shots from every spot on the floor. No, it wasn’t a dream. Just practice.

But still …

Frye then strolled over to a crowd of reporters waiting to discuss with him one of the most obvious storylines in the Western Conference finals – his incredible 1-for-20 shooting slump, punctuated by 17 consecutive misses. But instead of talking about how he’s going to shoot better in Game 4, Frye went with the defensive approach instead – lecturing the media and urging them to go find a better story.

No thanks, Channing. This one will do just fine.

“You know what guys, to be honest I’m kind of disappointed,” Frye said. “First you said we couldn’t beat them and now you’re talking about a lot of negativity. I think we need to look at how well Robin [Lopez] is playing, how well Amar’e [Stoudemire] is playing. My baskets – yeah, they would’ve helped. Yeah, I haven’t been shooting very well. But I feel like I’m doing other things better, helping out defensively and getting as many boards as I can. So for you guys to talk about me shooting, that’s kind of – there’s better stories to write about than me shooting.”

With all due respect, that’s for me to decide. Your job is to make shots.

Now I say this with all the requisite disappointment and astonishment that I felt as Frye kept going farther down this road in a hyper-sensitive rant Monday after practice. I know Frye as one of the most thoughtful, approachable players in the NBA – one of the nicest guys you could ever present with a question and a digital recorder.

But to ask for positive coverage in the midst of an epic shooting slump – one the Suns won’t recover from if Frye doesn’t snap out of it – was a little much. I could go back and watch video of the one shot he’s made in the series and write positive things about that, but it was so long ago it might have been purged from the YouTube archives by now.

“I think you guys make a bigger deal out of it than I do,” Frye said. “Shots just aren’t going in. All of them are good shots. I’m shooting them the same way and they’re just not going in. … Like I said before, it’s not a story or anything to write about. It’s kind of frustrating that we win a game and you guys talk about something negative again. So for us and for me personally, I just need to continue focusing on what the team wants and focus on what’s really important and that’s playing defense and getting boards.”

I tried to help Frye out by putting a positive spin on my question: The uproar over his slump stems from the fact that he was so good during the regular season – making 172 3-pointers after making only 20 in the first four years of his career – that it’s obvious Phoenix needs him to shoot better to have a chance to beat the defending champion Lakers.

“I totally understand that,” Frye said. “I like that question. You know what, I like that. Yeah, we need to hit shots – not just for me but for everybody else. I don’t think we’ve been shooting particularly well. It’s just one of those things.”

That’s one way to look at it. Another way is this: Subtract Frye’s 1-for-20 shooting, and the rest of the Suns are shooting 52 percent in the series (117-for-224).

There’s no question shooting a basketball is mental, and Frye is stuck in a mental rut as much as anything. He said he studied video of his shots, and didn’t see anything mechanical going wrong. It’s not for lack of practice, either. Frye told me earlier in the season that he held marathon shooting sessions last offseason that transformed him from the so-so mid-range shooter that the Suns thought they were getting into a 3-point threat who became a major part of Phoenix’s 54-win season and surprising journey to the conference finals.

“As shooters, we’re kind of emotional like that, sensitive about stuff like that,” teammate Jason Richardson said. “You don’t really want to say too many things to him. You kind of want to help him get out of his own funk and at the same time don’t put any added pressure on him. He knows there’s pressure on him with you guys talking about his shooting percentage. We’re still confident in him, and every time he’s open we want him to shoot the ball. That’s what he does best and that’s what made him successful on the court.”

As for coach Alvin Gentry, he still believes in Frye and won’t hesitate to use him in Game 4 Tuesday night.

“He’s a great shooter and he’s had a great year for us,” Gentry said. “He’s going through a tough time right now, but we still believe in him and that’s why I still play him. That’s what I told him: ‘You should just go out there and just shoot it and not worry about it. They’re not gonna get on your __, they’re gonna get on my __. And I don’t really care.’ I’m going to try to use him because I think he’s an important guy to our team. We’re not about to give up on him.”

Even though Frye is 1-for-14 on 3-pointers in the series, he isn’t the only culprit. In a way, it’s amazing that the Suns are still in the series given that only Richardson (10-for-20) and Jared Dudley (6-for-12) have hit more than one 3-pointer in three games. Take out Dudley’s numbers, and the Suns’ reserves are 2-for-24 on 3-point attempts in the series.

Alas, all of this was too negative for Frye’s taste.

“Why don’t we focus on what we’ve done?” Frye said. “We were down 0-2 – a lot of negativity, a lot of guys saying we’re going to get swept and we can’t compete with them. And we come out and play a great game and now we’re talking about me not being able to shoot well. I think it’s such a small part of the game. I don’t think we should focus on this. And now I’m getting upset, and I usually never get upset. But we played so hard and everybody left their heart out on the court and we’re just going to talk about something little like this. It’s something I’m kind of amazed about. I think we should focus on some of the good stuff.”

In the end, that’s what Frye did, predicting that his slump will be coming to an end in Game 4. From the Suns’ perspective, it better.

“That’s the funny thing about basketball,” he said. “You can shoot it today and it doesn’t go in, and you can shoot it tomorrow and it does. It’ going to go in tomorrow, I can tell you that. It’s going to go in tomorrow.”

Category: NBA

Since: Feb 17, 2010
Posted on: May 25, 2010 6:55 pm

Channing Frye: Mr. Sensitive

It's totally mental, like putting.  He's not accustomed to the play-offs.  If he makes one 3 on his home court, the crowd will react positively and then he'll make a bunch of them.  That's what I'm predicting.  He, Dudley, Dragic, Richardson and of course Nash shot the lights out from the arc all year.  Now most of them are missing but the Suns have still scored about 110 per game vs. LA.  I'll be astounded if the collective drought continues.  On the other hand Lakers such as Artest and Fisher have shot way above their averages in the series.  That's why I agree that it's surprising that the Suns are only down 2-1 - and why I still think they can win the series with some typical  shooting.  Go Suns!

Since: Feb 19, 2007
Posted on: May 25, 2010 6:02 pm

Channing Frye: Mr. Sensitive

Right now, Frye has no confidence, you can see it in his eyes...He's missed the shot before he even takes it...If he suddenly gets it back in the 1st quarter, fine, leave him in...Otherwise, I wouldn't even play him. These games are too crucial to have a guy playing who continues to struggle.

Since: Jan 17, 2010
Posted on: May 25, 2010 4:42 pm

Channing Frye: Mr. Sensitive

The stage is just too big for him I guess. Didn't the announcers say something about Reggie Miller would sometimes have to get a layup to get him going on his 3-shooting? If Reggie occasionaly had to build confidence to make 3's then might not be a bad idea with this guy.

Since: Jan 14, 2010
Posted on: May 25, 2010 1:07 am

Gotta agree with this

Frye's rebounding and defense will never be good enough to make up for him shooting poorly.  His role is to knock down threes and when he's not doing it, he's the suns worst enemy.  He doesn't have the size, strength or athleticism to guard Bynum, Gasol, or Odom with any effectiveness.  However, if Frye gets hot in the next few games, it could be a much more competitive series.

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