Don’t use “Mike Woodson” and “defensive coach” in the same sentence in front of Mike D’Antoni.

The Knicks’ head coach doesn’t want to hear it.

“He’s a basketball coach, OK?” an annoyed D’Antoni said when asked about Woodson’s role. “I keep saying it. Hopefully one of these days it will get through. We’re not football. We don’t have [separate coaches for] offense and defense.”

That may be true. But so far, Woodson has played the part of defensive coordinator for the Knicks.

On the court and in the film room during training camp, Woodson talks to players about defense; D’Antoni sticks to offense.

“I can’t step on his toes too much,” D’Antoni said.

It makes for a strange scene on the practice court at times, Woodson on the floor talking to players while D’Antoni stands on the sideline.

But, D’Antoni insists that it’s working well -- so far.

“He is a great coach and hopefully his voice will help,” he said.

The Knicks reportedly were searching for a defensive-minded coach to add in the offseason. So they turned to Woodson, hiring the former Hawks head coach as an assistant in late August.

"I'm just a coach that's looking for an opportunity. I have experience and I'm just excited about the opportunity," Woodson said at the time. "That's all a coach in this league can ask for."

Woodson faces a tough task this winter. He has 16 days of training camp to turn around a Knicks club that ranked 26th in opponent field goal percentage last year and allowed an average of 45.4 points in the paint, the fifth-highest total in the league.

With 7-1 Tyson Chanlder in tow, those numbers should improve.

If so, Woodson will likely get credit.

But if the defense struggles again, does D’Antoni get the blame? The lame-duck coach would be an easy target.

But no one at Knicks camp is worried about that right now.

With just nine practices left before the season opener, Amare Stoudemire insists the focus in camp is on clamping down at the defensive end.

“That’s what the goals are right now ... to become known as a defensive team,” Stoudemire said.

To get there, they will have to listen to Woodson. They just can’t call him a defensive coach.


The First Ripple?

Mike, your teams have always sucked at defense, deal with it. Someone needed to be brought in to sew up the holes in your strategy.

If he's not a defensive coach, then you're not an offensive one.

Guarantee this'll get Melrose Place within not too long.