Ben Howland talked about the first few days of practice in a teleconference on Sunday.
How have the first few days of practice been?
"We've had three practices. The guys, number one, have worked very hard. There's been good intensity, good leadership from our veteran players, from Josh, Darren and Alfred. And I think some guys have come along and done a good job. There are a lot of things to learn in a short amount of time before we play our first game that counts. So, we're just going real basic right now. We haven't done the press offense yet, we haven't put in one play yet, we haven't put in an out-of-bounds play yet. We're just doing basic stuff. And I like the intensity level."
How are the freshmen responding?
"Very well. I thought the freshmen did well. I thought Bobo (J'mison Morgan) did well scoring. I thought he scored a little better than I thought he would. He has good hands, he's long. His whole thing is going to be conditioning. He has to go against Alfred Aboya, and that's a tough thing for a freshman, to go against a guy whose whole thing is how tough and how hard he plays. But that will make Bobo better.
"Drew Gordon kept getting a little tweak to his knee, his bad knee, so they tried to do a brace today, that is a more protective brace. It felt much better, much more comfortable. Consequently I think he played better. He led us in rebounding today. He's going to end up playing both the five and four for us, so he has a lot to learn, but he's in good condition and did well in rebounding.
"With the three guards...Jerime Anderson played an hour and ten minutes the first two practices and an hour and twenty today. We're trying to bring him along slowly, but he really looks good for a guy who hasn't played that much this summer. I'm really impressed, especially his decision-making and passing. Jrue Holiday and Malcom Lee we're very good. They're playing against good players when they're going against Collison, Roll and Shipp. Both competed really well, and made plays at both ends."
How is Nikola Dragovic's injury?
"Good. It's actually coming along okay. He felt a little better. We're hopeful by Thursday or Friday he can get some minutes in practice. We'll just wait and see. He was biking today, and then he'll do some running and then hopefully be able to get some practice. His foot was pain free today walking on it for the first time."
What was the result of the bone scan on him?
"It was negative. Everything is negative. He's had every test known to man to prove that there's nothing wrong with any bone in his foot. We're treating this as a ligament sprain. So, he's okay that way."
Is Mike Roll practicing?
"Yes, Michael Roll is practicing and playing well. He's shot it well. He looks good. He looks like he did a year ago before he got hurt."
Does Dragovic have a cyst in his foot?
"He had a cyst in his foot that was aspirated. That was about a week ago."
Is that what caused the other injury?
"We don't know. We initially thought that but it's starting to get better now."
Can you tell a diference in Shipp now that he's in better shape?
"He feels quicker. He runs better. He's about 205 pounds."
How is Darren playing now that he's bigger?
"He looks good. I talked to him today. He hadn't lifted since Wednesday, so I said, ‘Make sure you get in there and lift.' We actually have all of these great new machines and technology. He put on ten pounds and five ounces of pure muscle this summer. They're able to measure muscle versus fat. How much body fat versus how much muscle. He put on ten and a half pounds of muscle from when we ended last year to when we started this year. That's a lot. The big thing for him is to continue to have maintenance, so he's not going to atrophy at all. He's definitely stronger and more powerful."
Does it affect the way he plays?
"It just makes him faster and quicker, and stronger – and better. You know, he's just better in every way. He's still super quick, super fast. He's just stronger. It's all muscle. He looks good."
Jrue Holiday said he had ‘jumper knee' in his right knee. Is it bothering him at all?
"I don't see any different in that at all. But he's not the only guy. That's a typical thing that most basketball players have after they've played for a while. You just have to do a good job of icing it every day and taking care of it. Bottom line is it's tendonitis. It's tendonitis."
Is this a normal amount of practice days you'll have before you play?
"You know, I went back and looked at last year, and we had 20 days of practice before we played, because we started on the 12th and our first game was November 9th last year. But the difference was we didn't have five freshmen coming in, we just had two. We didn't lose four of our top six players from the year before."
So, how many days of practice?
"We have 18 days of practice before we play a game on November 12th. We have 18 days of practice and two exhibition games."