Hoops Update, 10/18

Basketball practice is rolling along and HI.com's Don Oglesby gives you a glimpse of what is happening at Bud Walton Arena. For more information or to ask Don questions, visit our premium message board.

The second of Monday's two Arkansas basketball practices lasted nearly three hours, about equally divided between skill development drills and scrimmaging.

In the scrimmage portion the defense clearly got the better of the offense... not at all unusual or unexpected at this time of the year. In mentioning this to Coach Flaska he agreed that the defensive pressure on the ball was excellent, but said that after the offense completed the early offense phase of each possession there was too much stranding around, which made it too easy for the defense.

They will be emphasising hard cuts and movement without the ball to overcome that early season problem. As far as defensively, when the defense did break down the help defense wasn't as effective as it needs it to be.

Therre were some good offensive plays, though, many of them attributable to some fine play by Ronnie Brewer which earned several easy baskets for Rashard Sullivan and several of his own. I thought Charles Thomas also had an effective practice, showing a lot of energy. The big men were really goiing after each other defensively. I was pleased that Steve Hill held his own and on several occasions got offensive boards and worked hard to get good postup position. I only remember seeing one three made... this one by Preston Cranford, but then, very few were taken. One of Mike Jones' baskets may have been a three and a corner shot by Jonathon Modica was possibly a three.

After opening stretching the Hogs went through a jump shooting drill, some 2-on-2 work. a drill on feeding the post (under intense defensive pressure), a close-out drill done 4-on-4, some 3-on-3 work full court which may presage more tendency to use pressure in the backcourt than we have seen from Coach Heath's teams, though I don't want to read too much into just a day of drills.

In the 5-on-5 scrimmaging, mostly in the full court, the teams were divided as follows: Brewer (playing the point), Modica, Famutimi, Sullivan, Hill and Munsey on one team and Jefferson, Ferguson, Jones, Thomas, Townes, and Cranford on the other.

Brewer's team, with most of the veterans, seemed to get the best of things today. Not much of the offense is installed yet, of course, but from what I saw it appears that they will be looking to push the pace much more than in the past two years.

I made some notes of good plays and seemed to be writing down the names of Brewer, Sullivan and Thomas the most often.

By and large I get the impression that the staff is well pleased with where they are this early. Conditioning, effort and chemistry all seem very good.

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