"We Talkin' ‘Bout Practice!"
The Stanford Men's Basketball Team got the 2009-2010 season off to a start with a coaches clinic two Saturdays ago. The clinic, intended for high school coaches from around the area, gave spectators an insight into drills they might run for individual workouts and team practices. Lasting from 9:00am-3:00pm, attendees got a full-day's worth of basketball knowledge from the Cardinal coaching staff.
The program\ got started with brief speeches from Director of Operations/Assistant A.D. Jeff LaMere and Head Coach Johnny Dawkins, who thanked everyone for coming and then outlined what lay ahead for the day, which would start with 35-minute workouts with point guards, wings and posts. After the player workouts, new Strength & Conditioning Coach Keith D'Amelio would give a talk about keeping players in tip-top shape as well as demonstrating useful stretches and warm-up techniques. Lunch would follow the D'Amelio talk, and then the day would finish with a full-length team practice. One note we learn from the Coach Dawkins talk is that Landry Fields will be the lone team captain for the 2009-2010 season.
POINT-GUARD WORKOUT WITH ASSISTANT COACH MIKE SCHRAGE
Coach Schrage, as with all other coaches, was mic'ed up for the workout so he could explain to the coaches in the stands why certain drills were employed. As the point guards warm up, the former Director of Operations at Duke says that Stanford will employ a "by committee" strategy to the point guard position, not saying who would get the nod to start. This being only the second practice of the season, there is no reason to make that decision yet.
Overall, the drills employed in the "point guard" workout were very solid and all of them directly relate to game situations. What impressed me the most was the "physicality" of the workout- pads were used (not football pads, but blocking pads) and contact was encouraged. Physicality is being made a top priority, from what was on display at the clinic - much more so than in years past.
While there might not be a "1" that separates himself from the pack at this early point in the preseason, I think Stanford is going to have a deceptively effective stable of point guards. With the exception of Shiller, all the point guards are 6-2 or above and all of them are strong for their position. Size advantage at the point guard position is underrated in my book. While most point guards aren't going to set up shop on the low block (which definitely could happen- Dildy gets great positioning whenever he ventures into the paint), taller guards will tend to have greater length, and they can use that length to get into passing lanes and create deflections. Dildy has especially long arms and is smart in using them, and the same can be said about Mann. Jarrett's intensity on the defensive end alone is going to cause problems for opposing "1"s. This workout also allowed me to get my first real look at Harris, and I liked what I saw. In addition to being a great ball-handler, he can finish with ease with his left hand at the hoop and has good hops. I also am a fan of his jump shot- very much up-and-down with a high release point. Sometimes you will see younger guys get their shot off at their face or lower- while that might work in high school, the Pac-10 is a different animal. It's good to see that Harris already has the fundamentals going for him.
During these drills, I was most impressed by how much Dildy has improved offensively. They might be just workouts, but Dildy is already showing an improvement in finishing at the basket and finishing with contact. He provided the highlight of the workout by dunking with his left hand off one foot. I've been a Dildy guy for years, and I think he's going to shine more brightly than most people expect.
WINGS WORKOUT W/ ASSISTANT COACH RODNEY TENTION
After some ball-handling work, the wings spent the majority of their time working on finishing at the basket and shooting. Coach Tention emphasized the necessity of the mid-range jumper, noting that "closer" is not always "better".
We all knew that sophomore Jeremy Green could shoot, and he did not disappoint in his workout. He was on fire from all spots on the floor, winning almost all of the shooting contests. His love for the game is readily apparent and makes him that much more fun to watch. He is a guy who is not afraid to take the big shot and is going to hit many a clutch "3" down the road as a result.
Although Fields might not have outshot Green on the day, I loved his aggressiveness on the workout, something that has vastly improved. Landry was great at "attacking" the spot that he needed to get to on the floor during a drill instead of easing or settling into it. His movements have become much more forceful in general - while he can still be a finesse player if he has to, his strength is going to help him down low. He is the leading returning rebounder in all of the Pac-10, and he has only gotten stronger and more aggressive; I like that combination. He is really taking his newfound leadership role seriously and his actions on the floor prove it.
This workout was also a first look at freshman Andy Brown and senior walk-on Chris Ebersole. It's a shame we won't get to see Brown play for quite a while because he is one skillful dude. He has very good control of the ball for his size when he's handling the rock and he doesn't waste any movement. He's a guy who is going to get from point A to point B in the shortest distance possible, defenders be damned. His size is something he will be able to use to his advantage on the perimeter and taking defenders down low. I'm warming up to his shot, as he has good touch from distance. Ebersole is a guy I know well - as a team manager the previous two years before walking on to the team, I used to work with him closely. We had numerous one-on-one battles after practice, and probably to everyone's relief, I never beat Ebersole once. Chris is the perfect practice player - he won't make mistakes with the basketball, and he's going to bust his butt on every play in every drill.
POSTS WORKOUT W/ ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH DICK DAVEY
It's always great to be able to hear words of wisdom from Coach Davey. He spent a lot of time talking to the high school coaches in the stands about how traditional coaching rules won't always help - adapting to the game and how it is played is more important than following anything in a "Coaching 101" handbook.
The master of footwork had his "bigs" working on a variety of basket finishes and employing the proper technique on each move. Out of the group, I was really impressed by Elliott's balance - he always keeps himself under control and will be able to get off quality shots down low as a result. His technique is great and is only going to get better with experience. Aside from watching a few minutes of "open gyms" spread out over a few months, this was my first time watching Zimmerman in action. From what was on display in this workout, "Z" is very solid with his off hand and also has good balance down low.
The biggest development of the workout was sophomore Matei Daian's shot - it looks SO much better than last year. No longer does his jumper have a hitch; it is just one fluid motion. All of his off-season work has really paid off.
TALK W/ STRENGTH & CONDITIONING COACH KEITH D'AMELIO
Before D'Amelio takes the stage, we learn that when he was with the Toronto Raptors (he also worked with the Celtics), the Raptors were in the top-5 in the NBA in least amount of games missed. Hopefully that rubs off on the Card this year!
D'Amelio was the star of the show. One of the first points he made was that crunches are detrimental to one's body. Since the "core" of the body is meant to be stable, a crunch disrupts that stability with abrupt movements of the abdominal and upper-body areas. It's also a bad basketball exercise in the sense that never will a player make a move where they quickly jerk their body in a crunch motion. So good news, Booties: you don't have to waste any more time on crunches and sit-ups!
What was most impressing about D'Amelio was that all of the stretches and types of lifting players do under his watch are all pertinent to specific basketball moves. With the help of office intern Dwight Perry, walk-ons Chris Ebersole and Peter Abraham, and Anthony Goods (yes, Goods was in the house! More on him later), D'Amelio showed you can build upon certain stretches and exercises and how they relate to a specific move a player would make in a game. This was what D'Amelio called "incremental stretching". He also emphasized functional strength, which also would better prepare the Cardinal for in-game action. This guy has a wealth of knowledge and the health of the players is in good hands. Great hire.
LUNCH AT JIMMY V'S
Not much to report on here, but I did get a chance to catch up with Goods for a bit. He's getting ready for the NBDL Draft, which will take place on November 5. Best of luck to him and former Cardinal teammate Mitch Johnson, who is also entering the draft.
Jimmy's was on point as usual, with solid cheeseburgers, pasta and fruit. The only things missing were the chocolate chip cookies, which are second-to-none.
After lunch, we all went back to Maples for a full-length practice - the second of the season. It was a typical practice, consisting of defensive review, 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 segments, 3-man drills, 5-on-0 offensive work and shooting. Coach Dawkins was mic'ed up for the whole practice and thus the crowd was able to hear his commands and thoughts as practice went along.
While it was obviously way too early to tell how well the Standord team is going to play this year, the guys gave great effort and the intensity was there for the whole practice. I was particularly a fan of Shiller's defensive intensity and if he keeps it up, he will be a much-improved defender. Individually, a lot of players showed improvements. I was again floored by Daian's shot - at one point in a 4-on-4 drill, he hit three shots in a row from 20 feet in the run of play. It really does look a lot better than last year, and now that his range has improved, we can potentially see him in an expanded role soon. Jarrett Mann's shot also looked much better. While last year his shot tended to come off the side of his hand, this year it's much more up-and-down and his wrist is cocked straight forward after his release, which corrects for the sideways release. He still has a ways to go before being a great shooter, but he is definitely on the right path. The last player who took significant strides in his jump shot was Da'Veed Dildy. He has become more consistent with getting good arc on his shot and giving it a better chance to pass through the hoop.
The "new guys" looked solid as well. Transfer Andrew Zimmerman impressed me with his long-range jump shot (he hit a couple of 3's in practice) and lateral movement, something I didn't necessarily expect from a guy of his stature (Emmanuel Igbinosa also was very quick laterally and is looking like he will be a solid defender). Practice player Peter Abraham showed off his athleticism - he can really get up, throwing down a few times in a 3-man drill.
in all, it was a great chance to see the guys in action and get hyped for the
2009-2010 season. Up next is the
intra-squad scrimmage on the 27th, which will give us a better idea of how the
guys will perform in game situations.
The basketball season is upon us! Stay tuned to The Bootleg for continuing coverage on the Stanford Men's Basketball team. Let's all hope the news starts becoming more positive.
About the Author: Kevin Danna, Stanford '09, started out as a student manager-in-training for the Men's Basketball Team on October 14, 2005, and has lived and breathed Stanford Basketball ever since. From doing laundry to filming practice to working summer camps, he has been involved with many facets of the Men's Basketball program. Upon retirement from his manager position on March 25, 2009 at the conclusion of the 2008-09 season, Kevin took an undeservedly prolonged break from any kind of work and eventually got his degree from The Farm in Spanish. Shaking off the cobwebs of five months of laziness, Kevin has started working as a play-by-play and color broadcaster for gostanford.com, calling home contests (in English) for several Stanford sports. He also hosts a sports talk show on 90.1 FM KZSU from 9-10pm every Tuesday entitled "The Sports Zoo", as well as a music show called "408's Finest" immediately following sports talk from 10pm-Midnight. An alumnus of San Jose's Bellarmine Prep, Kevin proudly admits that he currently lives at home in San Jose with his parents and cat.
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