Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 12/19/11
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Rodney Stuckey was drenched in sweat, tugging at his shorts, the international sign of a tired basketball player. He had just finished a 2 12-hour practice with his Pistons teammates, yet he and rookie Brandon Knight kept doing extra shooting drills with assistant coach Dee Brown. Over and over again, the two would dart around orange cones, stop and then shoot. Sometimes a team assistant would stand in the lane for them to drive around or shoot over. The only thing that stopped them was the fact that they had to be ready to board a plane at 4 p.m. for the quick flight to Cleveland for Tuesday night's second and final preseason game. "I'm good. Yeah, I'm tired, but this is what we've got to do," Stuckey said, mopping his brow with a towel. "This is my job. I missed a week of training camp, so I'm just trying to fight back and get back into the rhythm." Stuckey was a restricted free agent after last season and did not re-sign until Saturday. The deal is reportedly worth 25 million over three years. Stuckey took part in a four-hour practice that day, the team's 90-minute open practice Sunday and then Monday's workout. "Rodney's been great," coach Lawrence Frank said. "He's fit right in, very eager learner, trying to catch up on the stuff he's missed. "Obviously, he's a huge difference-maker for us and for our team. Every day he'll do more, and he did more today and made really good progress." Frank said Monday he hadn't decided whether he'd throw Stuckey in during Tuesday's preseason game, but he would have an answer after shootaround. Last season Stuckey led the team in scoring with 15.5 points per game and in assists with a career best 5.2 assists per game in 70 games (54 starts). Although he's having to play catch-up to learn Frank's system, Stuckey said he wasn't worried last week when everyone was in camp. "It wasn't hard on me at all," Stuckey said. "First thing was, my agent had to take care of my business, and he did a good job. Then after that, just get back into working. "I'm happy to be back with my teammates and get back in the rhythm and playing with these guys. I missed them. But I just had to go through that process. I'm glad it's over." Despite some personal success last season, Stuckey, like most Pistons, was not happy with what was occurring with the team. He openly clashed with former coach John Kuester on occasion. But so far, Stuckey seems to appreciate Frank's straightforward way of communicating with players. "One thing about him is once we mess up, he stops everything and we do it over again," said Stuckey, reiterating what other Pistons have said. "That's the key. Guys need to know what they're doing wrong first and then we do it over again just to get it right. Every time we mess up, we do it over again. "I'm happy that he's here. I know all the other guys are happy that he's here as well. Overall he's just a good dude and a good teacher." In addition to communicating himself, Frank wants his players to communicate with each other, especially on the court. "Coach emphasizes that, if we don't talk, we're going to get beat on defense," Stuckey said. "I think just doing it in practice is going to lead to it being easier in games." Now that he's 26 and entering his fifth NBA season, Stuckey plans to be a little more vocal, both on and off the court. "It's a younger team this year, too, so guys are gonna be listening and looking up to you as you talk to them and stuff like that," Stuckey said. "I think just being here for these past three days or so, it's been really talkative in here. Guys are getting after each other and stuff like that. "I think the more vocal we'll be with each other, the better we'll be off in games." There are some who believe that Stuckey was forced into playing the point guard position when he seemed more comfortable playing shooting guard. With Knight on board, Stuckey knows he'll be playing both guard spots. "Whatever position I need to play, I'm going to play," Stuckey said. "I know I'm going to be playing a lot of 2 (shooting guard) this year, too, and also be playing point, so I've just got to learn both positions. "It's a lot of stuff, so I gotta catch up. He's (Frank) got a lot of terminology and a lot of defensive schemes that I need to catch up on, but I'm getting it, though. "When I come in to play the 2, I know I've gotta come in and score. But when I'm at the point, I'm going to be looking for my teammates to try and create. I think when I'm out there on the court, I'll just always be aggressive." Stuckey said there's only one thing limiting his aggressiveness right now. "Right now my legs are killing me," he said with a laugh. "So as soon as I get my legs back, I'll be fine. Once my legs are under me, that'll allow me to get up and down the court a lot more, get more elevation on my shots." Stuckey knows he doesn't have a lot of time. The Pistons' regular-season opener is Dec. 26 at Indiana.
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