Open Practice Notes

I ventured down to Crisler Arena yesterday to watch the basketball team go through their open practice. The way this staff does things stood out yet again!

More compelling than any individual performance was the tone and atmosphere of the practice. Everything is very structured and regimented. There is time set aside for every phase of the game. The first misconception that has to be thrown out of the window is the sentiment that some put out there about Coach Amaker’s laid back nature with his team. Some look at the way the coach conducts himself on the sideline and assume he is always that way. He chooses to present a certain level of decorum on the sideline, and that’s his prerogative. However, those clamoring for demonstrative reactions from the coach should take solace in the fact that the Coach Amaker in practice is anything but laid back.

The staff is very heavy on discipline. There is a ton of instruction and there is no tolerance for excuses. Furthermore, it’s very apparent that there is no room for placing blame on teammates. At one point a mistake was made on the court and one of the players involved exclaimed, “that was his fault!” That’s when Amaker interjected, had a few words for the player in question, and then resumed the drills. The message was clear. Focus more on what you can do better as a player as opposed to what your teammate may have done wrong. During another sequence of one of the scrimmages, both the maize and blue teams came down and put quick jumpers. Coach Amaker immediately blew the whistle to stop practice and said something along the lines of, “What in the heck are you guys doing? Both teams! Who in the heck do you guys think you are?!…Run the offense!” Structure, discipline and accountability. Those are all a part of the standard that the coach is so vehement about setting and maintaining, and they were all present in the practice yesterday.

Other brief observations:

  • Defensive intensity: Last season there was a marked improvement in this area, and this season should be no different. Contrasting the technique employed by this regime to that of past teams reveals a great deal. Defensive rotation is really stressed and details that might seem minute, like getting and keeping your arms up when guarding your man, are given serious attention.

  • There will be no easy buckets down low. Between Graham Brown, Amadou Ba, and JC Mathis, there is some serious attitude in the post. Expect a little friendly contact whenever the opposition goes into the lane.

  • One of the areas that will need to improve the most is catching passes in the post. There were a few occasions where the postmen were fed the ball in good position to go up and convert an easy bucket, but weren’t able to because the ball was fumbled. This will, without question, get better in the coming weeks.

  • Another glaring trait of the practice was how much the team runs. Conditioning won’t be a problem at Michigan because these kids do a ton of wind sprints. The majority of them are NOT of the disciplinary variety either. They’re a normal part of the practice regimen.

  • Bernard Robinson Jr. appears to have really accepted the challenge that coach Amaker put forth in the offseason. The young man is looking for the three point shot and hitting it. He was the man yesterday! He did everything well. He drove into the lane, found the open man, AND rebounded. He really seems poised to lead this team and have an All Big Ten performance this year.

  • Lester Abram is going to be the unsung hero of this team yet again. He’s so unassuming, but at the end of the night he will have filled up a stat sheet. He was money from deep all afternoon!

  • I said in the Maize and Blue scrimmage report last week that Brent Petway is a work in progress and will have to be brought along by the staff. Well, that process was very evident during yesterday’s practice when Coach Ramsey laid down a “no dunking” edict for the Georgia youngster. The young man went to work on his jumper for the rest of the practice. He just continues to improve.

  • Dion Harris and Dani Wohl didn’t participate yesterday because of minor injuries. Both will be fine.

Be sure to check back for pictures from the practice tomorrow.


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