"Our" irrepressible Watzone swooped into Cameron on Wednesday and has recorded another great pickup report! Thanks again, Watzone! You da man!
I arrived a bit earlier than usual for todays pick up games at Cameron Indoor Stadium. I found myself in the midst of conditioning drills. I have taken in the drills before, they are similar to the ones in open practice sessions that are held just before the season. Coach K watched with Athletic Director Joe Alleva. The two chatted while William Stephens(strength, and conditioning) put the guys through the grinder. Coaches are not allowed to have hand on at this point, and are never found in the gym during pick-up games. Our freshman dragged a little, the exception being Jason Williams--and to a slightly lesser degree Michael Dunleavey. A couple of these drills would make the average persons chest explode. They are a combination of running, stopping on a dime and the like. There was a lot of short grabbing in humid Cameron, but the guys sucked it up. Shane Battier showed great leadership. He encouraged the younger players to keep their heads up, and was seen talking individually to Nick and Casey.
On another slightly intresting note, Shane is the coverboy on the Sporting News Preview magazines regional issue. His teammate Carrawell graces Athlon Sports magazine, he also shares the ACC Handbook cover. Street and Smith and Dicky V's publications are due later this week. One thing that strikes observers of this years team--is the chemistry between the players. I can see some relationships starting to form. You can also tell October 15th is getting closer, as certain matchups have heated up a bit in pick up games.
Chris Carrawell sat with a minor injury. Carlos Boozer also watched from the sidelines. Many seem to think Carlos will be ready for Midnight Madness. I think this might be wishful thinking, as he is still not mobile in anyway I don't think Duke will rush him into service. Matt Christensen did not participate in the conditioning drills either. Todays teams were the skins: Dunleavey, Battier, James, Sanders and Caldbeck versus the shirts: Williams, Horvath, Christensen, Bucker, and Simpson. The Skins won the first game easily before dropping the next two. They played six total games today. On this day, the drills seem to have taken its toll. There were a few lazy passes and the overall FG PCT was around 40%, a fairly big drop off. Granted some of that is attributed to better perimeter defense. I know its only pick ups, but blocking out is a problem too--too many easy follows today. Nick Horvath struggled today. His shot was off, likely from fatigue. He will have to make it through the Devils tough conditioning phase. Nick has really shown promise, and certainly will be called upon to play some minutes. Michael Dunleavey is a gym rat. He is becoming more vocal and seems to also be more comfortable with his play. On one break he dribbled behind his back as he put in a showy lay up. He also once threw the ball off the back board to Casey for the dunk...this was on a break. He hit Casey three times with alley oop passes for dunks. These two are playing very well together. Casey also showed some fatigue, and his BVD's! We all got a good view of his cheeks, as his pants were usualy half down. He was not a defensive presence today, but ran the floor and finished well. Maybe a milkshake and a XXL Pizza would help with his shorts! JD Simpson shot well from the three--hitting 11 of 16. He needs to work on his passing a bit, but can hoist the rock. Jason Williams again penetrated with ease, however he struggled finishing today. He was more vocal, and develops a little more leadership each day. He had a great Dawkinsesque move on Dunleavey for a drive and score. He is a solid player. Matt Christensen played with fire at times. He took the ball strong to the hole, finishing with dunks. He looked much better facing the basket, than with his back to it. He also is showing his maturity, and willingness to play hard. In fairness to others, he had to have fresh legs by not participating in the aforementioned drills.
Nate was streaky, but solid. He hustled and contributed to his teams victories. Buckner again played pesky, once hitting a jump shot, only to hit another runner just seconds later. Caldbeck hustled, and was not about to take any cheap calls, as he and Matt argued. In fact, there were a few verbal exchanges, which could be attributed to being tired and the approaching season. Shane Battier showed his leadership. The co-captain intimidates almost everybody on the team down low. His defense often makes the players alter there shots. He will surely team well with Boozer upon his return. Shanes shot won the last game today.
There were several highlights--but I enjoyed watching Dunleavey going against Williams. They pushed each other, and both had nice moves. Michael once put the ball off the glass on Jason. Jason sometimes reminded me of Will Avery as a freshman, by taking the ball to the hole without really knowing whether to shoot or pass. He is will overcome this with coaching. The average observer will first notice our size. Casey, Michael, and Nick are very slender, but all are talented. This team really seems to like one another and it should be fun to watch them grow. The pocket schedule debut was today and features All American hopeful, and senior co-captain Chris Carrawell.