Woody understands 'expectations are high'

NEW YORK -- Even with Mike D'Antoni's sudden resignation Wednesday morning, which also included the departure of assistants Dan D'Antoni and Phil Weber, interim head coach Mike Woodson knows the direction of the Knicks hasn't changed.

"There's still a lot at stake here," Woodson said during his introductory news conference tonight at the Garden. "There's a lot that needs to be done in terms of winning basketball games. And I understand that expectations are high. We knew that coming in this season and that's the only way it should be. I've expressed that to the guys. We've already met a little. Expectations are still high. We still have a great opportunity to do something special here in New York."

Like Glen Grunwald, Woodson was surprised when D'Antoni suddenly wanted to resign from the Knicks on Wednesday morning. Right at the start of his news conference, Woodson called D'Antoni "an excellent coach" and offered him thanks for the chance to return to the organization that drafted him 31 years ago as a player out of Indiana.

"Mike D'Antoni was good to me," Woodson said. "He gave me an opportunity when I was out. I have a great deal of respect for that, but we've got to move on. We can't undo what's been done. I feel good about moving forward with this team. We're going to continue to push and try to get the most out of this team as we can to be where we need to be, and that's the playoffs."

Previously, under D'Antoni, defense was Woodson's primary responsibility, and the Knicks have developed into a better team on that end of the court this season. They've gone from a defensive rating of 110.1 in 2010-11 (22th of 30 in the NBA) to 101.5 this season (10th of 30).

Woodson didn't offer much in the way of the Knicks' recent offensive struggles, as they've gone 2-8 since Carmelo Anthony returned on Feb. 20 after a groin injury. But he said he'd look to alter some things in the coming days, perhaps posting up Anthony more and giving Amare Stoudemire more looks down low by the basket.

"I've got to get a practice under my belt to be able to answer things as we move forward," he said. "As we move forward, it's my job as the head coach now to push guys to try to get to that next level in terms of turning it around and making the playoffs."

Woodson, who has 24 regular-season games left to turn things around for the 18-24 Knicks, had a chance to address the team on Wednesday. He told the players, "Take a deep breath and relax. All is not bad."

While Grunwald was "disappointed" to see D'Antoni go, he spoke highly of Woodson. Grunwald and Woodson were actually Hoosiers teammates more than three decades ago.

"I've known Woody for a long time," Grunwald said. "He's another good coach, another great guy. And I think our team is in good hands, and I look forward to working with him."

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