07 July 2010
Even four months after Portland’s season ended in the first round of the playoffs, Jeff Pendergraph still hasn’t taken time off from the court.
And he isn’t planning too any time soon.
The guy apparently doesn't believe in the "offseason".
“I don’t have time for a vacation. I’m on the team but I have to make them want to keep me on the team,” Pendergraph said.
“Vacations aren’t going to do that.”
Last year at this time, the 6-foot-9 power forward was getting ready for summer league in Las Vegas. It was a bitter sweet experience. Sooner after summer league, the Blazers learned Pendergraph had an impingement in his left hip and needed surgery. After missing 27 games, Jeff played spot minutes during Portland’s constant injury filled season and finished with 39 games played with four starts and averaged 2.7 points and 2.5 rebounds in roughly 11 minutes per game.
Rookie status. Those numbers aren’t going to blow anyone away.
But for Pendergraph, there was an adjustment period that took place and hit him hard around March.
“There was a lot of learning. A lot of learning,” Jeff continued before saying he’d hit a rookie wall.
“I remember the guys needed me to get them all hyped up and stuff and I couldn’t. It was a rough road trip I think and I was struggling. They said I wasn’t turned up anymore.”
During a time when Pendergraph was previously used to wrapping up a college season at Arizona State, he still had two more months of basketball to play. He had to prepare himself mentally and physically – even if he wasn’t getting the playing time others were. Pendergraph had to stay ready.
And he learned a lot along the way.
“Some guys aren’t as good as they think they are, but they are definitely a lot tougher and they know a lot. What you think they might not be good in, they are still skilled. Just because a guy isn’t averaging 20 points a game doesn’t mean he sucks or is a bum. Guys do stuff for their teams in other ways than just scoring. I have to get used to that and realize that.”
On Wednesday, Pendergraph and the Blazers get back to business – at least the summer league team does. Portland’s first game in Las Vegas tips off on Sunday against Denver. It’s a chance for Jeff to showcase what he’s been working on lately.
Kaleb Canales – the Blazers assistant coach who will head the team in Vegas - recently spent four days working out with Pendergraph in Ontario, CA., and Los Angeles, where the two spent a couple days doing multiple workout sessions focusing on Jeff’s lowpost moves and footwork.
“I’ll have to keep earning my place every year, so I’ll just do what I have to do. I have to get in the gym and work hard.”
For Pendergraph, working hard is all he knows. Taking a break, however, is slowly becoming part of the equation. But there is still much to prove and Pendergraph is the first to admit it.
“I might take breaks during the summer – like a day or so – where I won’t do anything,” laughed Pendergraph.
“I’ll just do what I have to do to keep getting better.”