Knicks coach calls Robinson 'scary athletic' as team breaks training camp

Updated: October 4, 2008, 6:30 PM ET
Associated Press

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Even though Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni isn't ready to determine his rotation, he liked what he saw from Nate Robinson during New York's first week of practice.

"I'm really surprised with him and how good he is," D'Antoni said of the 5-foot-9 guard after the team broke training camp at Skidmore College on Saturday. "He can play a lot of systems, but I do think that the way we want to play an open court, that will benefit him as much or more than anybody.

"He's just -- he is athletic as can be. He's scary athletic, and fast."

The Knicks spent five days getting used to their new coach's fast-paced system and trained for the first time at the Saratoga Springs college.

"We still got a lot of work to do. We don't have to be ready tomorrow," D'Antoni said. "We've got to be ready on Oct. 29."

That's when New York opens its season at home against the Miami Heat. Their first preseason game is Wednesday at Toronto.

D'Antoni was also impressed by Mardy Collins, another guard.

"I really didn't think of him, because we had so many guys, but he played really well," the coach said.

He will determine his core eight or nine players after a few weeks when "everybody will be in shape and we'll be able to assess a little bit better."

For his part, Robinson liked what he saw from his teammates.

"Guys are closer, playing harder, playing together, learning coach's style of play," he said. "Every guy came in ready to play and ready to learn, and I think that goes a long way."

New York left Saratoga Springs with Jared Jeffries sidelined up to two months with a left leg fracture he injured during practice Thursday. Also, Eddy Curry didn't practice all week because of a bacterial infection that initially landed him in Saratoga Hospital.

"It's always tough when you're missing some of your key guys," Quentin Richardson said. "But I think with them missing, it gave other guys a chance to play a little bit more and to practice a little more."

Jerome James suffered a slight strain in his left quadriceps Saturday, and sat the final 15 minutes of the team's last scrimmage.

"We've got a lot of things to still do, a lot of things to go, and then we'll see on the 29th that I'm sure there will still be a lot of learning to do," D'Antoni said. "But the first three or four months it's going to be, we're going to have to grind it out and learn how to play and just make sure we're making progress."

D'Antoni praised the facilities at Skidmore and would welcome a return next year, though no decision has yet been made.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press