MUSKIE TEAM 98 FALL PRACTICE OFF and RUNNING!!!
Andy Mac Williams,
Travis Steele has packed seven intense upbeat workouts into the first 9 days of training camp. The fellas capped off this first segment with a 6AM practice Wednesday. After classes, XU begins a four day Fall Break. The Spain trip and the 10 practices prior have jump started 2019-2020 season preparations. The 7 newbies(2 grad transfers and 5 frosh) knew the drills-the demands-each other and the coaches when things began a week ago Tuesday. Teaching is always happening, but drills have been very efficient. 400 to 500 Muskie fans showed up for last Saturday afternoon's bonus open practice at Cintas. They saw a typical day on court starting w/ full court conditioning (solo-2 on 0, 3 0n 0, 4 0n 0 and 5 on 0). Guards and wings then split from BIGS and do half court shooting work.
Ohio U grad transfer Jason Carter bridges the gap and moves from end to end in his role as a flex 4 man. Power group coach Jonas Hayes has 5 players w/ him this season(Tyrique Jones Zach Freemantle, Daniel Ramsey, Dieonte Miles and Carter). Last year it was Tyrique and Zach Hankins against the world(too many reps). TEAM 98 will have a more normal 3 or 4 man rotation at PF-Center.
6-9 Frosh Daniel Ramsey participated in some full team activities both Monday and Tuesday including sprints and shooting and some half court work.
Tyrique Jones is wearing the Gold Jersey as top practice player for Week 1 of Camp. He scored highest in the Xavier Way points system. Both Senior Co Captains Tyrique and PG Quentin Gooden are leading more vocally. Jones' low block battles with Frosh BIG Zach Freemantle are bruising and intense. Zach seems destined to slot in as the 3rd BIG behind starters Jones and Jason Carter(Ohio U grad transfer. Banging day after day against Tyrique will help prepare him for BIG EAST posts like Nate Watson(PC) and Omer Yurtseven(Georgetown-NC State transfer) and Paul Reed(DePaul-last season's BE leading rebounder).
Freemantle has a full plate learning both Power Forward and Center positions. Most freshmen just focus on one spot TEAM 98 is deeper and bigger upfront. Last season it was Tyrique and Zach Hankins against the world. Now BIG MAN coach Jonas Hayes has Jones and Carter and Freemantle and Ramsey and 6-11 Deionte Miles to work with daily(more like the usual Muskie power group 4-5 rotation).
MORE FROM SATURDAY's OPEN PRACTICE.
Stan Van Gundy was an interested observer. He coached both Orlando and Detroit in the NBA and is now an NBA TV type with Turner after working with ESPN last season.
Muskie fans saw a typical tight two hour workout beginning w/ full court sprints(1 on 0-followed by 2 and 3 on 0 then 5 on 0). Travis is harping on ball security (valuing the ball). 11 turnovers/game proved to be the magic number in last season's strong 8-3 finish. The goal is to stay around 11 this year despite playing much faster.
Team 97 had limited depth so slowing the tempo was the strategy because the Core 4 had to play way too many minutes. Turnovers in practice trigger full court sprints now.
The Muskies played the plastic bubble up nutcracker drill for 10 minutes plus. They break out the football blocking pads and just hammer each other for ratty rebounds. Steele commented before the segment: "Some guys look for contact and like it. Others try to avoid it." Guess which type of player Travis prefers?? Message delivered and received!! Freemantle-Dahmir Bishop and Carter did especially well in that box-out drill scrapping for the loose balls.
TEAM 98 is light years ahead of TEAM 97 in terms of depth and speed and size and also communication and chemistry. There's more talking and joking and enthusiasm.
Travis went full court 5 on 5 in the final segment. Scores were hard to come by. Steele wants extended defense-more ball pressure and more activity in passing lanes leading to flicks and deflections and steals. Dahmir Bishop came up with a dynamic tomahawk slam dunk in heavy traffic that excited the fans.
It was the start of Training Camp Week 2. Travis invited 3 NCAA officials to call fouls in half court drills and during a controlled full court segment to give players an idea of what constitutes a foul. He emphasized focus on every possession saying "Guys who can't focus will sit the bench" and "I'll play guys I can trust."
It's all good. The talent is strong. The work ethic is apparent. There's plenty to be done and learned, but the Opener vs Jacksonville is still 5 weeks away. Here are some mile posts.
MUSKIE MADNESS is Friday October 18th at Cintas(5PM). Byron Larkin and I host CORE 4 and More-a TEAM 98 preview-Thursday October 24th(5-8PM) at Hofbrauhaus in Newport. See the ad on this website's home page in the coming days for details.
The D-2 Exhibition game is Wednesday October 30th at Cintas (7PM Tip) vs University of Indianapolis. The secret D-1 scrimmage is against Akron probably Saturday October 26th at an undisclosed location. More on the Muskies here after Fall Break.
We will have more frequent posts on my twitter feed (@mm_andymac). Please feel free to tweet me back and retweet my stuff. Thanks and Go Muskies!!!