7/13 Pick Up Games in Warehouse

Blake Stepp, Richard Fox, Tony Skinner and Kyle Bankhead joined with newcomers Erroll Knight, Adam Morrison, Derek Raivio and Drew Hall for a fun day of hoops in Stockton's Warehouse. (Pictures coming soon.)

Blake Stepp: What new is there to say? He's ripped, he's a stud, and he is unbelievable! His knee woes are long gone, because he is running faster, jumping higher, and playing sticky defense. However, he made too many deflected or intercepted passes and Skinner, among other guards, picked his pocket a few times. His handles were good today but not great.

Kyle Bankhead: Nothing new to report here either. He still has good consistency from beyond the arc. We could see him relieving Blake at the point and putting in time at the 2 guard spot, and he'll always be a situational 3-point shooter. Kyle continues to add more dimensions to his game inside the arc and will be one of the smartest Zags on the court.

Tony Skinner: My sister commented that she didn't even recognize him because his shot looked different. Whatever he is doing that is different it sure is helping! He was knocking down threes, jumpers, and skying for dunks. He isn't as athletic as Erroll, but I'd say he is getting there. My favorite comment I heard all day on Tony (via Ronny after Tony threw down a two-handed dunk): "Why didn't you do that against Cincinnati?!" Tony's defense has improved and he gave Blake plenty of trouble. Compared to last year at this time, he's lightyears ahead, knows the system and looks totally comfortable out there.

Richard Fox: Foxy has trimmed down a lot. His speed seems to have improved because he was the finisher on several fast breaks. However, he is still one of the slower players on the court but that's not an entirely fair comment because no other bigs scrimmaged this day and a true center like Richard will never out-quick guards, wings and forwards. He was finishing plays well: either dunking or kissing it off the glass, and his baby hook was on target. Foxy remains a master at tip-ins. Also, he's serious out there and just might emerge as this team's leader.

Erroll Knight: He can jump out of the gym! On one play he blocked a shot that was at the top of the square on the backboard with two hands! And it wasn't a goal-tending violation either; it was still on its way up. Raivio fed Erroll nicely with several alley-oops that I thought no one would ever be able to connect on since they were so high up, but in comes Erroll and flushes them down with a one-hand tomahawk. His jump shot was prettier and more consistent since the last time I saw him play. He should be a fun player to watch on the fast break next season! Erroll concentrated on his slashing a lot where he would elevate high and pop the little four-footer. Knight finds a way to the rim. A group of Zag fans likened him to Secretariat or Seattle Slew; nobody, not even Blake, is as thoroughly ripped as this guy.

Adam Morrison: Adam is just plain tough. He is almost 6'8" and nearing 210 lbs and was guarding Fox down-low the entire time. Anyone who has seen Morrison knows he isn't quite as big as Fox! But Adam wouldn't let Richard get the ball that easy. The two of them were pushing and shoving down below. Adam contested each of Foxy's shots as well, clearly getting on Richard's nerves at times. [note: Adam did have to foul sometimes to keep the bigger Fox from dominating.] On the offensive end Adam's shot was on the mark today. He drained threes and jumpers with a hand in his face all day. He releases his shot so high no one can get a piece of them; sometimes his release and arch are so high it makes it look as though the shot won't hit rim; and that's right, it doesn't! It hits pure net! Whether it's an impressive drive to the hoop, a five-footer, a fadeaway ten- or fifteen-footer, or an NBA trey, you could count his missed shots on one hand.

Drew Hall: He isn't as quick or as athletic as Winston, but he seems to be more offensively-minded. He made some nice cuts to the basket for easy lay-ins and made several good passes. Drew's shot is good but not great, and he excels at finding the open man first, shooting it second. There were a few times when Drew over-passed (Derek Raivio was guilty a time or two of this, too) instead of popping the short shot himself. He is not flashy and he doesn't try to be nor need to be. This redshirt year should help him adapt to Coach Few's system and improve his overall game. Drew will be vital to Gonzaga in the post-Blake Stepp era.

Derek Raivio: Though all wiry muscle now, D-Rav would benefit with another ten to fifteen pounds. His body reminded me a little of Danny Pariseau: thin and long, but stronger. His handles were eye-popping. He could dribble the ball so fast between his legs you couldn't watch where it was. He did do a lot of fancy ball-handling without going anywhere, but after awhile he began to use his quickness to slash to the hoop. He reminded me a little of Jayson Williams from the Memphis Grizzlies; Derek had his fancy dribbling as well as fancy passing. He made some nice alley-oops to Erroll and Adam. Derek shoots the ball from his forehead, which could create problems with taller guards blocking it, but that can be fixed by coaches Krause and Lloyd. Overall, I was happy with his performance and think he will help at the point this season. The word jitterbug or, in football terms, scatback, came to mind while watching Derek. He goes, stops, zips, jukes and flies in a herky-jerky manner that leaves defenders behind and looking confused as he jets down the lane or along the baseline and lays it in or dishes for an easy assist-to-dunk. His "Basketball IQ" ranks up there with Dickau's and Stepp's.

Nathan Doudney: The transfer from Texas Tech looked pretty impressive. A more athletic version of Kyle with solid handles. He made a couple nice treys and slashed to the hoop. New to the system, he didn't shoot as much as he could have. My favorite play of his was when he drove to the basket and saw Erroll preparing himself to smack the shot into the rafters. Nathan tricked Erroll and laid the ball up with a ton of arch so that it was too high for Erroll to swat. I think the redshirt season should help him adapt to the system and improve his skills. He is not the one dimensional spot-up shooter that I expected to see, he is much more. A very pleasant surprise.

Ronny was there, but was only watching. He says that he will be playing with the French National team again, like he did last summer, and will be flying out shortly for France. Cory, Colin and Sean weren't there, nursing bumps, bruises and the general wear and tear from days and days of pick up games. This latest scrimmage has left me more confident than the last in our ability to go places next season. We will have more than a few scoring threats and our team will be very tall, with Raivio, at 6'2" (in shoes), being the shortest.

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