Hoops Update, 10/14

Arkansas worked for over three hours Monday afternoon as basketball practice continued on the hardwood of Bud Walton Arena. Here are the observations from HI.com basketball contributing editor Don Oglesby.

First of all, it was a long one... three hours 5 minutes. And there wasn't an idle minute. A lot of 2 on 2, 3 on 3 and 4 on 4 work getting the perimeter defense down... including some switching...the first we have seen of that. Then there was a segment where Coaches Orande Taliaferro and Rob Flaska were working with the perimeter players on defense while Coach Boudreaux was at the other end of the court working on post defense with the big men.

They also spent half an hour or so working on another offensive set. I described the 1-2-2 sset used in Saturday's practice. Today they worked on an offense starting with one man on the high post and 4 perimeter players. Like the other set there is a lot of screening. There are about 5 options out of this set. Several people have raised questons on this board about Alonzo Lane. This is a set Alonzo should thrive on, because in at least two of the sets the first option is to get the ball to the power forward LOW in the post. So far, then, we have seen two different offensive sets, each with about five options... and this is only the third day of practice.

Sometimes things are a bit sloppy as you would expect with so much being thrown at themn so fast, and of course there are mistakes. But by and large most of the players seem to understand where they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to do. When the whistle blows (as it always does when there is some error of execution, you usually see one player shaking his head as if to say, "Yeah, I know... I blew it." Eric Ferguson is playing the point on one team and Kendrick Davis on the other. This offense puts a lot of responsibility in the hands of the point guard and the two are responding very well for so early and with so much to learn so fast.

The last half hour or so featured a controlled scrimmage between the two teams, using both the new offenses and the defenses that had been practiced earlier. I thought it went pretty well. About an hour into the practice Dionisio Gomez went down with some kind of knee problem. It was painful, but I don't think it was a serious injury as Nichy was walking around toward the end of the practice after icing it down. He's going to be awfully sore tomorrow, but hopefully there's no sprain and I'm pretty certain there's no ligament damage.

Carl Baker had a very nice shooting day. In the scrimmage I thought both Ferguson and Mukubu played very well. Jonathan "Pookie" Modica had a couple of opportunistic baskets. Davis hit a couple of threes. Lane looked strong. Larry Satchell wasn't there... don't know whether he had a late lab or what.

The practice finished with free throw shooting. Each player shot one free throw and the objective was 8 of 11, with suicides to be run if the target wasn't met. Unfortunately it was three suicides later that they finally hit 8 of 11. By this time, though, they were quite tired (Blake Eddins and Mike Jones, two of our better free throw shooters, each missed on at least two turns.) With the count standing at 7 of 10 Blake made the last one to end the practice. I think the free throw shooting will be a better this year than what we have seen the past couple years.

One of the noticeable things about practice this year... if there is a foulup the team runs laps or suicides. If there is an individual error, pushups are in order. It's serious business, yet there is some fun as well.

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