Today we had another opportunity to check out the Lobo Men's Basketball team and it was pretty cool to get down there and watch what is going on. Once again I'm not always sure of what I'm looking at when it comes to hoops practice as well I was never really was a hoopster.
To me it is putting ball in the bucket and trying not to allow the other team to do so, still I have some thoughts.
The first things I checked out was a drill putting a huge emphasis on offensive rebounding. The way I see it is Coach separates his team into black and/or white jerseys and assigns a certain point total for the offense getting an offensive board and obviously a bucket as well. It is interesting seeing how much Coach Mckay emphasis communication between his players so that they don't get themselves or their teammates in trouble. I also enjoyed seeing the camaraderie amongst the team. It is very obvious these guys like each other and are working hard not only for their coach… but for each other as well.
Some of the guys that were really impressive to me in this drill were obviously Aaron Johnson who isn't the biggest post player we have seen at UNM sure is aggressive and just determined to grab any ball in his area.
Daniel Faris is also another guy that battles hard. I can still recall seeing Daniel at the Eldorado gym a couple of years ago and you could see the potential in the guy. Now that potential is being developed and he is really coming on as a strong post player with a nice shot. What I LOVE about Daniel's game is not only his ability to fight for a board, but he can step out and hit a nice mid range jumper. That ability has been lost by a lot of big men these days. It seems like it has to be a lay-up/dunk or the three. Daniel has a nice mid range game that makes him a very dangerous player.
Jeff Henfield Will Hurt You Bad!
Jeff Henfield really looked good today. He is a solid body that can crash the boards and with his strength he will make people get out of the way. It will be interesting to see how Jeff continues to pan out as he gets more of the offense and becomes more of a fluid player his minutes and ability will grow.
From the outside I was extremely impressed with Jamaal Smith today. He is a tenacious defender who isn't afraid to throw his 5-9 175 lbs in front of anyone defensively, and give him just a crack and he is amongst the trees for the hoop and the harm.
I was able to see today why the coaches are so excited about the play of Roman Martinez and his ability to shoot. It was a simple drill with two trashcans that were "setting a screen" for the player. PG Ryan Kersten just kept feeding "Ro" the ball, as he would circle from the left side of the 3 pt. line to the right. He would bounce off the screen, grab the ball and hoist it up, and then run to the next side and do the same thing. His range is unbelievable, and then he would curl around the "screen" and have a nice little 10-15 foot shot. Very fluid and a quick release.
Mr. Incredible JR Giddens!
Mr. Incredible JR Giddens!
Last year was the first time I ever met JR Giddens at a practice. I remember I was talking to a couple of reporters about past Lobo players and teams and the conversation rolled around to former Lobo Danny Granger. JR overheard our conversation and said, "Don't be talking about Granger. He's gone. This is Mark (Walters) and Dave's (Chiotti) team. I told him maybe we will talk about you instead. "No. I'm next year. Not this year."
I was kind of taken aback. We had heard the story of JR's exit from Kansas, and we all knew that he and Coach Mckay were working on getting to know each other and some of their butting of heads on certain issues so I thought okay this guy is really cocky and arrogant.
I had seen JR away from the court over the summer and was very impressed with his attitude, demeanor, and general attitude. So I thought well maybe it was just his on the court persona where he was that cocky arrogant dude… Man how wrong I was. JR's whole attitude seems to have changed this year.
Last year when he was goofing on his teammates, I see him this year congratulating, and working together as teammates. Propping each other up. Last year when it seems like he would question or maybe not pay attention to what the coaches were telling him, this year he seems to be eating up everything they say.
It is really cool to see what kind of a man JR has really grown into over the past year with Coach Mckay and his staff. We all knew the basketball part was there. The guy is a phenomenal player no doubt, but he had to grow up some in other ways. Gone is that arrogant cockiness that made me as a reporter wince at the thought of interviewing him and now it is replaced with an eagerness just to talk to JR. He is a funny dude that has replaced that arrogance with confidence. You can see it, his coaches can see it, his teammates can see it, and I believe everyone can feed off of it.
Click on this photo to see a sick dunk by JR Giddens!
Don't believe me… Well here is an interview I conducted with JR Giddens this afternoon during practice. Listen to him speak man. It was so hard conducting the interview today because I kept busting up laughing at everything he had to say and I would lose my train of thought just listening to him. Next time perhaps I'll just give him open mic and let him do the talking!
Find out why JR Giddens felt like Mr. Incredible!
Not that it means anything, but JR Giddens has earned my respect as not only a superb basketball talent, but as a man!
Don't forget the Lobo Howl is this Friday night. Get there early and get ready for excitement this whole season.