Basketball Practice Update, 8/30

Arkansas' basketball team is going through intensive workouts in preparation for the season. Don Oglesby gives his impressions after a session this week.

Yes, I know there's lesss than ten days to the first football game. But there are some exciting things going on at Bud Walton Arena as well. Let me tell you, this coaching staff is coaching their tails off (and the players' tails as well).

I had the good fortune to catch three skills sessions and some pickup games Thursday. (They have been on something of a day-to-day schedule while they work through class schedules, etc. so practice times have been erratic.)

It was intense with a capital I ... almost like NCAA tournament week practices. All three coaches earned their pay today and Coach Stan Heath took it all in from the sidelines and then talked with each group for about ten minutes following their session.

Coach Rob Flaska put Baker, Eddins, Gomez and Jones through their paces, assisted by Coach Byron Boudreaux, who worked especially with Gomez and Jones. Then Coach Boudreaux, assisted by Coach Flaska and Coach Oronde Taliaferro, had a really interesting session with big men Lane, Satchell, Sullivan and Pharis. The skill development sessions ended with Coach Taliaferro, assisted by Boudreaux and Flaska, working with freshmen Davis, Ferguson and Modica and Jamarr Blackmon. They are limited to coaching no more than four players at a time (NCAA rule), so today was Mukubu's day off with respect to the drills.

The emphasis in all sessions (each somewhat different) was on being fundamentally sound in every movement {down to calling for the ball (you'll hear a lot of "hey, hey, hey" or "ball, ball, ball" cries.)} I think I said in a post on our message board a couple weeks ago that Lane and Satchell were going to have to work to get playing time. Well, they are working.

Coach Boudreaux is seeeing to that. When he was having a little difficulty with one of the drills, Satchell was invited to the sideline where Coach Boudreaux worked one-on-one with him for about three minutes on one little move while the other three went on with the drills. When Satchell got it right he rejoined the group.

Lane is working harder than I have ever seen him work. With three coaches (actually four, as Coach Heath occasionally interrupts with some teaching points of his own) working with four players, a lot of teaching goes on in a 40-minute period. I can't help but think that the big guys are going to show some significant improvement.

In the pickup games play was pretty evenly divided, but Baker had a terriffic practice and Davis, Mukuba and Eddins had their best pickup game performances among those I have seen. Sullivan, Gomez and Ferguson also played well.

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