Homecoming Practice Report

On Saturday October 13th, Fairfield held an open practice session for the Alumni and Fans of Men's basketball. While much of the practice focused on drills and conditioning, and was not an actual scrimmage, it was still a good early look at the 2007-08 Stags.

The most evident aspect of practice was that the defense is a far ahead of the offense. Many of the drills focused on getting the players ready to play a physical and aggressive brand of basketball. One might say a Cooley brand of basketball. Here are some observations from practice:

Greg Nero and Anthony Johnson had some classic battles inside and both seemed to enjoy the physical contact needed to battle underneath. During the post-practice Meet the Coach session, Cooley said that Nero was the "toughest kid he has ever coached", and that was certainly reflected in this practice. Nero also showed confidence in his 15 to 17 foot jumper, draining a few of those type of shots. Johnson showed some power slams, which were only an encore to his impressive performance at Midnight Madness the night before.

John Han looked to be the leader out there. Sporting a shorter haircut and an obviously bigger frame, Han worked hard on defense and was impressive in conditioning drills. His skill level looks to have elevated to an all-around guard.

Herbie Allen played exclusively at 2G, looked confident and moved quicker and with a sense of purpose. His ballhandling, passing, and defense were similar to last year.

Devin Johnson looks strong and was playing Cooley ball….. aggressive and physical. His outside shooting is still a work in progress, however it did look like he shot better on his free throws.

Marty O'Sullivan was in street clothes and won't be back until Tuesday's practice. The roster handout listed him at 260 pounds. His baggy sweats at practice made him look big, however at the post-practice session, he did not look that heavy and looked similar to last year, much less than 260 pounds. He looked strong in his arms, shoulders and chest. He was very confident about this year.

Yorel Hawkins, Warrren Edney, and Lyndon Jordan looked good. All 3 had complete games inside and outside, with good size, athletic ability, and defensive skills. They all showed the ability to hit outside shot, even though they were inconsistent at times. They are both multi-talented wings, unlike any Fairfield pair of Fairfield wings since Flip Williams and Darrell Strickland in the late 70's. Lyndon Jordan has all the guard skills, and can play both PG or 2G. He seems to be really working hard mentally and physically to pick up all that is needed to play guard.

Mike Evanovich has a very good looking shot which was going in quite often. He has a very nice stroke with a consistent arc, with a high release point and soft touch. He is a shooter, and good passer. And while he did not show much as a low post back the basket player, he did cut well to the hoop, and has good hands and finishes nicely. Did not see much of his defense or rebounding to evaluate, but I heard he lost 15 pounds and moves well for a 6-9 guy.

Mamadou Diakhate and Geoff Middleton looked the same as last year as far as skills. Jimmy O'Sullivan showed a good grasp of the guard position, but had some trouble when double teamed by bigger guards and wings. Sean Grzeck had an unusual side spin on his shot, but it goes in. He can run and if he gets bigger and stronger he could be a player down the line. Robbie Sisca looked bigger than I expected and showed a lot more game than just a shooter; however his shot was not dropping. His shooting reputation is like a Mike Van Schaick, so if that comes around, he could be an interesting player next year.

The team has a way to go offensively, but its still early to work those things out. The practice can best be summed up with one of Cooley's drills where he told the players to be as physical as you can, as long as you don't foul.