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Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Novak aiming for more than just spotting up

By Jared Zwerling

Knicks sharpshooter Steve Novak has new summer digs 10 minutes from Marquette's campus, where he spent his college career from 2002 to '06. He's also added some new elements to his life on the court. On Wednesday, after his three-hour morning workout, he shared insights into his different training methods with ESPNNewYork.com, and discussed the upcoming season and his personal goals.

First, Novak takes you inside the Golden Eagles' gym in Milwaukee to tell you how he's been gearing up for 2012-13.

Q: The Knicks' offseason acquisitions reflect Mike Woodson's defensive culture. Is that someting you've thought about and are preparing for?

Novak: Yeah, for sure. When I'm here in the summer playing against these former Marquette guys -- Wesley Matthews [Trail Blazers], Jimmy Butler [Bulls] and Darius Johnson-Odom [Lakers] -- I work on defense. I think for me, it's been nice to be at Marquette and have 5-on-5 games all summer long, because that's the time when you can really put an emphasis guarding different position players. I think for me, the thing I'm really focused on this summer was positioning -- making sure I was always in the right spot, making sure guys always knew where I was, that I was talking. I feel like that's going to be my value defensively -- being there to take a charge, being there to help -- because I need to be a team defender, there's no doubt. That's the kind of team that we've built.

Novak
Steve Novak wants to be more than just a spot-up shooter next season.
Q: Offensively, what have you been working on?

Novak: In the NBA, they say, "Do what you do." I try to never get away obviously from understanding what my strength is, which is shooting the ball, but knowing how defenses are going to change this year guarding me, I knew I had to work on my one- and two-dribble pullups. I knew I had to be more comfortable putting the ball on the floor more and dribbling more -- not just catching and shooting.

That's really what I did a lot of work on -- lots of reps with "The Gun," the rebounding machine. I would just get the ball and shot fake to the right, shot fake to the left and shot fake to draw the foul. The thing I've been focusing on is just a small change, being more comfortable with that, but I feel like it's one of those small changes that can just make a really big difference. I feel like if I can draw fouls on my shot fake and that kind of thing, it totally changes the way a defender has to guard me.

Q: In your drills, are you looking to take on more pressure from opposing players and different training devices that help players get used to absorbing contact, while still making the play? Your former Marquette teammate Dwyane Wade is great at that.

Novak: Yeah. I did quite a bit with my workout guy, where it would basically be him jumping in the air like he was contesting my shot and me just jumping into him. Sometimes I'll do it even without contact, and it's really just a mental exercise because it's almost like you have to just mentally know that's kind of what you're going for, and you have to be able to recognize it quickly. If you shot fake thinking you're going to dribble right away, then you lose the opportunity to draw that foul. A lot of times in my game, it's important for me to just get space as quickly as I can. So it's really two things: it's shot faking and getting away from the defender quickly, and then the shot fake and staying put to draw the foul.

Q: Do you watch film of guys who specialize in creating space and drawing fouls?

Novak: In years past, the film I watched wasn't as much how they drew fouls. The film I would watch would be how Reggie Miller comes off screens, how Rip Hamilton would set his man up -- how they would just come off screens and get their shot off quickly. That kind of thing. A lot of it was watching how guys got open -- not as much after they shot; more before they shot.

Q: It's amazing how it all comes down to a split-second decision, where one dribble here or one shot fake there can be the difference between an open look and a missed opportunity.

Novak: It really is true. Everything does happen so fast because guys are so long and guys are so athletic that you can't be thinking about it as an after-thought. It has to be something you kind of have ingrained in you, and I think that's what this summer has been about. I wanted things to be kind of more ingrained in me, so when the game comes so quickly and it's happening, I've been practicing those things, I've been thinking about those things, I've been recognizing them more quickly.

Stay tuned for Friday, when Novak discusses the upcoming season and his personal goals.

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