Davis Nwankwo rode the bike for the entire practice . . . that is, until he came over to the training staff to get his shoulder iced. Not sure about the extent of the injury. Julian Terrell wasn't riding the bike, but he wasn't participating in drills much either. Instead, he and Derrick Byars were stalking the sidelines of the court, with Julian working in some individual post and shooting drills when possible.
The new walk-on, Aubrey Hammond, is wearing #21 and running mostly at the point, spelling Mario Moore or Alex Gordon in team drills. He's slightly taller than those two, but not as explosive. He does seem to have decent ability in driving the lane.
Getting Down in the Low Post
Freshman Alan Metcalfe is still trying to learn his positioning within the Commodores offensive and defensive schemes but is having little trouble with his baby hook. Several times he was able to deftly wrist-hook a small shot over one of the other post players after receiving the ball on the low blocks. And even though he was caught out of position at times, he did grab several impressive rebounds in team drills, grabbing the ball at the height of his jump and easily putting it back down.
Ted Skuchas is simply playing tough and smart. Skuchas also showed off his baby hook skills - and even tried two with the left hand. He's also employing an effective jump step off a quick dribble (a la Auburn highlight). More importantly, he's really working on the boards, fighting for every rebound and loose ball.
Dawid continues to show new moves in the paint, but he's putting the ball on the floor a lot - maybe too much once that lane is clogged with defenders. Hopefully he'll be able to use his height to face the basket and take some short jump shots down low. The good news is that he hasn't lost his shooting touch from beyond the arc - swishing threes the entire practice.
Junior Mario Moore continues to impress in practice. Not only is he passing efficiently, he's taking good shots and playing great defense. Once again, he had the best moment of practice when he nearly broke Gordon's ankles on a crossover, then stepped back and nailed 17 footer.
Dan Cage continues to improve and get it done. He's obviously worked on his ball handling and passing - both of which seemed greatly improved over last year. Should be interesting to see what happens to his shooting % this year as he will be more a known commodity and defenses will look to limit the number of open looks he gets on the perimeter.
Freshmen Alex Gordon and Shan Foster both seem to be practicing well, though both are still apt to make the typical freshman miscues. Foster displayed a great outside shot today, nailing most of his treys in team drills. He was also impressive at the free throw line, making 15 in a row at one point with a solid and smooth stroke. Gordon continues to run around like a water bug, displaying outstanding quickness and ball-handling ability.
Where Am I Going To Play Coach?
At times, DeMarre Carroll was playing on the perimeter, battling with senior guard Corey Smith, driving with the ball, and taking three point shots. Other times, he was battling against Dawid Przybyszewski, trying to scoop up and under the big man and effectively battling for some rebounds. He showed some great flashes of his post potential with acrobatic rebounds and some fantastic finishes.
Who Starts When?
While the starting lineup (of Mario Moore at point, Holwerda at the two, Smith at the 3 and Przybyszewski at the 4, and Terrell at the post) seems pretty set, don't be surprised to see some changes before the start of the season. DeMarre Carroll is proving he can get it done at a number of positions and Shan Foster has a ton of offensive potential. However, it's hard to imagine either freshman unseating one of the senior wing players for a starting role.
Instead, look for the biggest lineup battle to be between the big men - with Ted Skuchas pushing Terrell for the starting post position. If Skuchas can continue to improve his defense, he could get the nod early in the season. That might not be a bad thing for JT, who has gotten himself into early foul trouble throughout his career - he could benefit from seeing how the game is being called before getting in there.
Photos: Ted Skuchas and Mario Moore by Neil Brake (Vanderbilt U.), DeMarre Carroll by Whitney D.