Here is an update from blog contributor Ben Weiss on how the men's basketball team is progressing...
- The fourth practice of camp, which followed the first off-day of the preseason, was just as intense, energetic and lengthy (right around three hours) as the first. The 3:15 start time was preceded by a lifting session and shootaround, so it was an exhausting day for players.
- Head Coach Kevin O'Neill introduced and walked the team through its full-court press break before running it at full speed. The team then moved on to a full-court scrimmage to hone the offensive and defensive sets.
- With the amount of youth on this team, not to mention quickness, there's a strong urge to sometimes attack the basket instead of working through the offense. In recognition, O'Neill referenced the New York Jets' "grind it out" method of offense as something his own team should take note of. He wasn't encouraging a stagnant attack, but rather a patient and consistent one.
- Throughout practice, Nikola Vucevic's outside set shot looked much more consistent. The junior forward reluctantly attempted a few long jumpers last year, but seemed a lot more confident (and accurate) taking the open looks in practice.
- If O'Neill is planning on sticking with the intrasquad teams that he had going today at practice, the Cardinal and Gold game might be a blowout Saturday. The Gold squad of Jio Fontan, Donte Smith, Marcus Simmons, Vucevic and Alex Stepheson outscored the opposing Cardinal crew of Maurice Jones, Bryce Jones, Evan Smith, Garrett Jackson and Aaron Fuller by 20-plus points.
- Maurice Jones continues to defy gravity and the outstretched arms of defenders who have as much as a foot height advantage on the 5'7" freshman point guard. His ability to finish around the basket is as perplexing as it is awesome. And it truly is awesome.
- The freshmen Joneses (no blood relation between Maurice and Bryce) connected for a pretty fast break alley-oop towards the end of practice. It's going to be a treat watching these young talented guys develop their chemistry over the next couple of years, but with their level of talent, we may not have to wait very long.
- Here's Kevin O'Neill on practice...