November 17, 1996 in Sports

Schrempf’s Drive Leads To Fast Start

Bob Condotta Tacoma News Tribune

For Detlef Schrempf, every missed shot is a form of motivation.

“I always think I shouldn’t miss an open jumper,” said Schrempf, a forward for the Seattle SuperSonics. “And when I miss one, I get frustrated.”

In the old days, such frustration might stay with Schrempf for a while.

Now, entering his 12th season in the NBA and fourth with the Sonics, Schrempf has found some perspective.

“I realized you aren’t going to shoot 100 percent, although your goal is always to try and get close to that,” he said.

Schrempf seems on the verge of finding out how close this season. So far, he has been the only consistent outside shooter on a team that is 6-2 despite its relative offensive struggles.

Schrempf is averaging 17.6 points a game while shooting 57.8 percent from the field (only Shawn Kemp’s 58.8 is higher), including a 40-percent mark (10-of-25) from the 3-point line. Seattle is shooting 47 percent as a team and only 32 percent from 3-point range.

“He has just been a tremendously efficient basketball player,” said coach George Karl, pointing out that Schrempf also is second on the team in assists (4.6 a game).

Schrempf doesn’t credit the fast start to anything other than hard work. Schrempf, in fact, used to have a reputation as a perfectionist who was rarely happy with his game no matter what he did, a trait he says he has relaxed a bit in recent years.

“I saw a lot of guys who had a lot more talent than me who wouldn’t take the game seriously and that was frustrating to me,” Schrempf said.

Especially in his early years, when Schrempf was a borderline NBA player in Dallas.

It’s easy to forget that phase of his career now, but it’s obvious it’s still part of what keeps Schrempf going.

Drafted with the eighth pick of the first round by the Mavericks in 1985, he found it hard to break in to a front line that featured Mark Aguirre and current teammate Sam Perkins.

His third year, he seemed to regress from the year before. He was traded midway through the following season to Indiana, where he finally blossomed.

“I think without my attitude I wouldn’t be here,” Schrempf said. “I didn’t play much my first three years and I could have just gone back to Europe.”

Instead he kept working, finally becoming a starter - and then an All-Star - with Indiana and Seattle.

In his best season two years ago, Schrempf averaged 19.2 points and shot 52 percent from the floor and a team-record 51.4 percent from the 3-point line.

All his stats dropped last year when he missed 19 games and then had the predictable struggle getting back into shape after suffering a non-displaced fracture of his left fibula.

“It wasn’t a wasted year at all,” Schrempf said. “It was a great year (for what the team did), but it was just tough getting hurt and sitting at home and not being able to do much.”

Karl said Schrempf is back in All-Star form this year, although Schrempf said he doesn’t care that much about such things.

“My goals are that I want to shoot a certain percentage and do certain things defensively and rebounding and with assist-to-turnover ratios,” Schrempf said.

Sonics sign Harvey

The Sonics signed 6-foot-11 free agent center Antonio Harvey to a contract Friday and he was in uniform for Saturday night’s game against Sacramento.

Harvey replaces Elmore Spencer, who was cut Wednesday. Like Spencer, Harvey signed a “make-good” contract that will become guaranteed later if the Sonics decide to keep him for the entire season.

Harvey played two seasons with the Lakers, then played last year with Vancouver and the Clippers, averaging 3.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 55 games. He wasn’t in any team’s camp this fall, saying he was waiting for the right deal from the right team.

The Sonics like the defensive potential of Harvey, who has a vertical leap of 36 inches.

In the 94-95 season, Harvey averaged a blocked shot every 14 minutes.

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