I want to first thank stan4hoops and the posters on the HoopsBoard that did an excellent job talking about this weekend's practices. Hoops is back, and that's a good think for us junkies.
So without trying to repeat much that has been said, I have a few more comments to add:
- Rob Little jumped out at me as the surprise player I watched. I saw him a month or two ago, but he was in street clothes, obscuring the work and definition he has produced so clearly this summer. I used the words "baby fat" a year ago to describe his body type, but that's ancient history now. He's turned a lot of that to muscle, and is playing more aggressively than most frosh posts we've seen in this program. It's time for people to step outside the definitions we've all put on Rob for how he'll contribute this year. Time to upgrade expectations.
- Joe Kirchoffer lost his fro, which now means that Josh Childress has perhaps more hair than the rest of the team combined. I love the fro, and wonder what the Sixth Man will do to show some love. There's a chance fros could go wild on campus this year.
- J-Chill has an exciting upside, but a few sobering notes from Saturday. His release is a little low, his percentage was not good from outside, and he got smoked by Casey Jacobsen three straight possessions. The first is a concern, while the second requires many more data points and the third is more of a testament to Jake than a detriment to Josh. Also, J-Chill is not bashful about shooting.
- Could Curtis Borchardt get hurt this season? Sure. But is he starting in a fragile or susceptible state? No way. In the first practice of the year, a 2 1/2 hour marathon, C-Bo was fully integrated in the drills, contact and conditioning. The strongest sign that he's 100% back was his participation in a closing conditioning drill where players had to run, drop to the hardwood, leap back up - all at the sound of a random whistle. Oh, and he's playing awfully well for someone still getting back into game shape.
- Justin Davis was also very active and didn't show the effects of any continuing ankle injury. His percentage for shots in traffic was very encouraging.
- Kyle Logan has put some serious muscle on his body. It certainly shows. His confidence appears to be there, as well. We'll know more come November, but optimism is not baseless.
- The red team, which would arguably mirror the starting lineup today, consisted of Tony Giovacchini, Matt Lottich, Casey Jacobsen, Justin Davis and Curtis Borchardt. Both Julius Barnes and Chris Hernandez were on the white team, rotating time. Julius got more than his fair share, though, as Chris spent a lot of time watching and taking things in.
- Overall, this team looked surprisingly good to me for a first practice. After reading the doom and gloom from Booties on the HoopsBoard for the last several months, you'd swear you were watching a different team. I remarked as much to one coach, and was told that the Australia trip really did a lot to help get the kinks worked out for the new team chemistry. These guys are ahead of schedule.
- Faces in the crowd included Mr. Davis, Mr. Hernandez and J-Chill's little brother. Though there's nothing little about him.
- It's not an understatement to say that the staff is "relieved" that Matt Haryasz made a Cardinal decision. It's also not an understatement to say that a lot of folks are thrilled with The Bootleg and the story on the team from a few weeks back, which apparently was read and received well by Matt.