First week of practice is tough

As expected, the freshmen had a rude awakening to the rigors of Division I college basketball. There has been some progress made during the first week, but there have been some surprises.

Since practice is closed to the public, including the media, I did not attend any of the practices during this first week of drills. However, I have spoken with the coaching staff so I can share a few a tidbits with you.

The first week of basketball practice ended Friday just the way it should have, with most of the freshmen clutching their shorts in exhaustion. In fact, Will Bynum and Salim Stoudamire told me they had never been put through anything as strenuous before.

The point guard position is receiving a great deal of scrutiny from the coaching staff. Jason Gardner has a lock on the starting job, but a backup is needed. Stoudamire and Bynum have worked at the point during the week and both have had their positive and negative moments. Bynum is by far the quicker of the two, but he's also more out of control. Stoudamire has a scorer's mentality and doesn't always get the rest of the team involved.

You can see by watching the two that Stoudamire received better instruction at the high school level. He's a better off-the-ball defender and lose his concentration.

On Friday, with Gardner back in Indianapolis attending the wedding of his sister, Stoudamire and Bynum went head-to-head against each other.

"Salim really schooled Wil," Lute Olson said. "If we had to pick a backup point guard, Salim would play there and we'd use Wil strictly at the two. Salim is justfar and away the better of the two at the position right now." According to Olson, Stoudamire makes better decisions with the ball than Bynum and doesn't turn it over as much.

The coaching staff was also pleased with the progress of the freshmen post players.

Isaiah Fox, who reported to school weighing 286 pounds, has trimmed down to 267. He's running the floor better and is extremely quick to the glass for man his size. Fox is not a quick jumper, but he has great hands. He has a knack of tipping the ball to himself, rather than catching it clean when the ball comes off the glass.

Olson also praised the progress of Channing Frye. "Channing is really playing well," Olson said. "He can really get up and down the floor."

The Wildcats practices will be closed during the week but open to the public next Saturday when the team will practice in McKale Center prior to the UA/USC football game.

Olson has the team on a an accellerated learning curve in an attempt to get them ready for the season the opener against Maryland on Nov. 8. The annual Blue-Red Game is coming up Sunday Oct. 29 and then they'll play an exhibition game with EA Sports All-Stars Nov. 4. Time flys when you're having fun!!!


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