I went out with the rest of the media to today's open practice in the Rudy Davalos center. I will once again reiterate that this has to be one of the most physically athletic teams from top to bottom that have played at UNM in many a years. From a superstar like JR Giddens to our lone walk-on Aaron Johnson and all the players in between.
First thing noticeable was that Derek Oestreicher did not participate in today's practice as he is still recovering from his knee surgery. So we didn't get to see Derek play. We did however get to see Kellen Walter, Chad Toppert, and the dude I really wanted to see today Jamaal Smith hoop it up! None of the 3 disappointed as Walter and Toppert were their usual deadly from behind the arc selves, while Jamaal Smith displayed the talent that has people drawing comparisons to former Lobo great Greg Brown.
When Mr. Smith hits the ‘Burque in full force later this year people are going to be amazed. He has great speed, ball presence and has no fear in taking it to the rack. Coach Mckay may have found the best point guard we have had here since Greg Brown as he is a shooter, can penetrate, and oohh that speed!
Now not to be undone I also noticed Soph. Ryan Kersten's play today as he doesn't possess the speed of a Jamaal Smith, but more of a thinking man's point guard. His play is uncanny the way he can put the ball in the right spot or stops and pops for the right shot. I don't know how to explain it but like this. In one pass he floated a pass from top of the key through traffic and a couple of defenders arms into the posts hands perfectly. It was like a QB threading the needle over a linebackers hands. The duo of Smith and Kersten at the point position is going to be something to watch.
It was also great to see Tony Danridge pulling up from behind the arc and not only pulling the trigger, but making them count as well. I know that Coach Mckay and the staff constantly tell Tony to take those shots even if he misses, as they will start going down. Today "Tones'" shot did exactly that as he was hitting everything. Still everyone loves a Tony D. rim rattler so hear you go!
Another player that has stood out all summer and the few practices I've checked out is Chad Toppert. I know I've said this in just about all my reports, but Chad just hits his shots within the offense. He plays within himself and if given just an inch the ball is in the hoop. I realize that these are practices and "shirts and skins" but Chad has a swagger and confidence that will carry him throughout this season and will earn him more time.
It was sweet to see 6-10 Kellen Walter back on the court and dude has not lost his shot from last year. The senior is yet another player that if given an inch he will make you pay. He is unconscious when it comes to shooting and obviously with his height gives fits to all opposing coaches.
Finally, no practice report would be complete without some a couple of highlights from JR Giddens and "The People's Champ" Aaron Johnson!
Give my man Aaron Johnson The Belt!
Now I don't want to be some hype machine guy as Lobo fans we see reports like this and we start preparing for the "Sweet 16". And it is very early but buy your tickets now!