Monday (5/21) Hoops Practice Notes

Monday was another great practice, with players stepping up and Monty teaching a load. We once again saw work on 5-on-0 motion, as well as zone defense. Individual skills were important, with all of the big men making progress. Nick Robinson and Tony G impressed as well.

Monty teaching the troops Monday's practice saw a lot of work on fundamentals, which may dismay Booties who want to see the horses unleashed, but is necessary work. I say necessary because absent these drills, there are too many players on this team not getting it right. The roles in the motion offense, the individual and collective execution of the zone defense, and individual offensive moves for both the big men and the guards/wings. The beautiful thing about Stanford basketball, though, is the excellence of teaching offered by Monty and the staff, and the corresponding improvements these kids show with steep learning curves. The work on the zone defense Monday was an excellent case in point. It is apparent that Stanford doesn't or hasn't spent much time on the zone in the past, as several guys looked lost (particularly in the paint) as the offense would move the ball around. Teyo probably has the most to learn, both from a position and experience standpoint, yet he made great strides just in Monday's practice. He excels running the baseline to attack the corner, and his footspeed could make this a zone very difficult to shoot over. The PGs plus Casey and Lotty can pressure the rest of the perimeter well, and look fundamentally sound. Stanford fans remember several instances last season where one trey would pull Monty out of the zone, but if we have three guys out on the perimeter, plus Justin and Teyo covering the paint and corner, I see potential. It's far too early to say if the zone will be a more viable part of the 2001-2002 Stanford defense, but it's worth anticipating if injuries put the team in a position similar to how it stands now.

Justin throws down Earlier in practice, the team was again segregated into bigs and smalls: Teyo, Justin and Joe; Julius, Tony, Matt, Casey, Kyle, Nick, Tyler and Tunde (student manager). Tyler and Kyle ran with the guards/wings for half an hour tops, before hitting the sideline and exercise bike. Curtis was out for the full practice. Rev worked on fundamentals in the post for the big guys, particularly footwork. All three of those guys are like sponges out there, and do not just go through the motions in these drills. They will stop a drill to get Coach Reveno to fix the mechanics, or show them again exactly how to pivot or which foot to lead with in such-and-such situation. Teyo and Justin both have incredible athletic abilities, but it's clear that they have simply been able to dominate opponents on Q&A alone through their playing careers. I caution Booties that their application of these fundamentals will not come from just a practice or two, but will take weeks and months of this work with Rev. There is still a real gap between those drills and what they do in five-on-five on the floor.

Joe goes up for the hoop The more I watch Joe, the more I can see a very similar body movement in his jump hook and his attacking shots off the glass. He can be quite effective with those moves, and I did note that he executed well in five-on-five. One thing is for sure – it's near impossible to defend when done right.

Nick hits a floating jumper The guards and wings worked on options after catching the ball in transition. Standard stuff, but worked them everywhere from shooting the three to taking it to the hole. All of the guys looked awfully good from mid-range, but most had difficulty catching at the three-point line and then stepping back for the shot. Nick Robinson showed more range in his shot than I saw Saturday, with good form and accuracy. He had a very strong practice in all areas on offense, though his work needs to come on the boards and defense. He has the long arms to be big in both areas, but needs aggressiveness and practice. Casey continues to show the most diverse arsenal of offensive shots. One that stood out was 8-9 foot release behind his body that is best described as a baby hook. Haven't seen that from him before, but it just adds to the list of scoring options against the defense. Kyle and Tyler look in better shape than they are when you watch them early in practice, but they can't afford to take a full practice yet.

Tony followed up Saturday's showing with another awfully good practice. There wasn't a one-on-one drill like Saturday to test those abilities, but every shooting drill looked superb. Tony had a tough season this past year, and that will leave a lot of doubters about these reports, but I stand by what I'm seeing and relating: now healthy, Tony is shooting lights out. Even after practice, he was burning up the nets. He shot three pointers from five spots around the perimeter. He didn't move to the next spot until he hit ten. From what I counted, he needed between 11 and 15 shots at each spot to hit 10. To the doubters, remember the huge improvement Mike McDonald showed from his junior to senior seasons, as well as the fact that Tony is only now getting a healthy off-season to develop.

Julius is showing an improving shot as well, but I most noticed a particular of his offensive game. In the five-on-five, he drove from the top of the arc through the defense to the basket, but Monty wanted to show him that he could and should dump off the ball when defenders collapse on him. "There's probably not a better shot in basketball when you've got that guy open," he said when pointing to a player on the wing. I noticed twice in the remainder of practice that Julius attacked the defense and then dished the ball out to an open man. It's exactly that play and progress that will get him more playing time, and make this a better basketball team.

Reveno w/ 'classic' jersey Some recent love has been given to Tunde the manager, who has been filling in as another guard in practices, but I don't think Rev gets near enough attention for what he does with the big men. He is the fourth body out there, which means he is in the drills and every five-on-five. Perhaps some of the attention has been diverted intentionally. Witness Rev's "classic" look practice jersey, which drew jeers from the entire team and one comment asking "Can you even find a smaller jersey?" He is also easily the biggest and most physical player on the floor, which is very good practice for our big guys, but also can lay waste to those in his path like a buzzsaw through prairie grass. Teyo and Justin both felt the brunt of the "Revinator" Monday, which has them wanting Curtis back in practice as soon as possible!

Teyo winces while the doc checks him out, post-Reveno

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