A victory on the court, a loss on the gridiron


Channing Frye scored a season-high 26 points on Wednesday. He also recorded his second consecutive double-digit rebound game (and just his fourth of the season) after staying in single digits on the boards in every previous December contest.

His Suns beat an NBA powerhouse for the second straight outing as well, but Wednesday was not all good in the world of Channing Frye. After all, his Arizona Wildcats were embarrassed 33-0 in the Holiday Bowl.

“You know, hey. We got there,” Frye said when asked about his Wildcats. “We’re building blocks. Building blocks. Isn’t it coming up on softball season?”

I can learn a thing or two from my fellow alumnus when my friends inevitably give me crap about the Holiday Bowl; I can always bring up the program that’s won seven national championships.

When ASU-friendly local reporters asked Channing why he didn’t bring up UA hoops, Frye said, “Yeah hoops, we’re building on hoops, we’re building on hoops. I’m always with the hoops, but now we’ve got to go to something that I’m going to get a guaranteed win in, and that’s softball. Killing, killing in softball. What else? Swimming’s over, how did we do in swimming? Probably well, we always do good in swimming. So you’ve got to think about it. Where were we at last year in football?”

That would be the Las Vegas Bowl.

“OK, so we’re at the Holiday Bowl,” Frye continued. “That’s one step up. They (Nebraska) had the best defensive player in the country. Hey, stuff happens. Yeah, no, we’ll be all right. We’re a young school, everything is rebuilding, we going, we’ll be aight. I don’t want to talk about that, my heart hurts. That was a sensitive question.”

Taking it to the hole

Frye scorched the Celtics by hitting six three-pointers, but he’s also been working on taking the ball to the basket as defenders run out at him hard. As he’s becoming respected as a long-range shooter, Frye is starting to become adept at driving by closing bigs.

While he still dribbles too high at times, Frye is moving away from being a one-dimensional offensive player.

“I’ve been working on it, I’ve been trying to keep it under wraps, but hey, it’s a new year, I’ve got to try it something new,” Frye said. “I won’t do it too much, maybe two out of 10 times. Just enough to mix it up.”

Added head coach Alvin Gentry, “They’re closing out so hard on him, and that’s something that he’s worked on in practice. He has to be able to put it down for one or two dribbles and shoot it, or if there’s an alley he has to be able to take it to the basket. He’s gotten pretty good at that.”

Dragic’s development

Backup point guard Goran Dragic has enjoyed the best stretch of his career over the past nine games, averaging 10.2 points per contest. But he still lacks the kind of aggressiveness that would make him a viable candidate to be Steve Nash’s heir to the Phoenix point guard throne one day.

“I think he’s still trying to understand and get better,” Gentry said. “I think right now what he is — and I got on him the other night — he’s just too cautious. He won’t make the high-risk play, he won’t go risk-reward. He’s very conservative, he’ll throw a five-yard out, he’s not going to throw a post.

“Steve is Brett Favre, I mean, he’s Peyton Manning. He’ll check off anything and he’ll audible anything, and Goran has to get to that point where he understands that certain mistakes you’re going to make as a point guard, but the risk-reward sometimes is pretty high. I think he’ll get better in that department right there, but he’s playing well.”

Gentry said in Europe Dragic was that athletic high-risk player that the Suns hope he becomes, he’s just lost some of that aggressiveness while getting acclimated with the NBA game.

“He’ll get there,” Gentry said. “I’ve been happy with his progress.”

Staying out of foul trouble

After playing the entire first quarter and dominating it with 18 points and six boards, foul trouble (and the Suns’ big fourth-quarter lead) kept Amare Stoudemire on the bench for all but 10:40 the rest of the way against the Celtics. He added just eight points and a board after his big first.

STAT picked up two fouls during two different second-quarter stints that left him on the court for just 1:14 of the period, and then he picked up his fourth 16 seconds into the third quarter in the backcourt after a Rajon Rondo steal, but Gentry stuck with him in that situation.

“We talked to him about that, and that’s something he has to eliminate,” Gentry said. “Obviously it worked out tonight because we ended up having a lead, but we have to have him on the floor. That’s one of those things about gamesmanship he’s got to learn and do a better job of.

“He can’t get himself into that situation at the start.”