Nothing revolutionary occurred during today's open practice, but I did jot the following notes that I thought would be worth sharing. Please realize we were only allowed to watch the last 20-30 minutes of a 2 hour plus practice so the chance that anything truly important would take place in front of our eyes was basically zero.
With that said, here's what I saw...
-- When we entered the guys were setup 5 on 5, halfcourt. With the ball: Sergio, Martell, Randolph, Roy, Hill. On defense: Blake, Rudy, Outlaw, Aldridge, Przybilla. Players rotated in and out pretty quickly. Offense would run through a play until someone on defense screwed up or a shot was taken, Nate would yell or clap his hands, they'd check the ball up, rotate some players, and do it again.
-- Right off the bat, Martell nailed a long jumper. His BFF Bayless was there very quickly with a high five.
-- Shortly thereafter, as if on cue, Sergio, who was now playing defense, got an earful from Coach for not rotating properly. Sergio's reaction indicated this was not the first time he's been in that situation.
-- Others to get instruction on defense that stopped things: Batum and Rudy. Batum seemed overwhelmed, wide-eyed like a raver. With all the talent on the floor, I don't blame him. Rudy was in the flow and just seemed to be digesting the new information. Nate treated Batum with kid gloves a little bit; totally different manner than his address to Sergio. This makes sense.
-- Aldridge looks great. Hit two jumpers back to back with Hill's hand in his face.
-- We saw Bayless briefly at both the one and the two. In both positions, at different times, he really pounded the ball. On the top of the key, he was flying by whoever was supposed to be guarding him (Tatum, I think?), getting into the lane just like summer league, but looking to distribute when surrounded by the bigs. When he played the 2 on the wing, he was fighting through screens, getting himself a favorable matchup (Ike switched out on him), and then proceeded to dribble 10+ times before throwing up a shimmy-shake jumper that rimmed out.
-- Channing was not participating in the drill. He was shooting on a basket near us, working on his face-up jumper, due to his rehab for the ankle surgery. His ankle was taped and I watched for a while to see if he would favor it in any way during his shot, and he didn't seem to. He had his usual, natural, balanced shot. I guess that would be a good sign.
-- Greg was on the exercise bike, as you already know. Yes, he was limping. No, this was not what I expected after waiting for more than a year to see him hoop. Maybe tomorrow?
-- At one point during the drill, Luke Jackson closed out on a Rudy jumper, knocking the Spanish Stud into a nearby bench. Whoops. Welcome to America. The bench was moved in short order.
-- After the drill was over, the team broke up to shoot free throws. Bayless attentively received some extra coaching from Monty before going to shoot. After the shooting was over, he was showing off a serious floor burn on his hip, which must have occurred prior to the open access period.
-- Speaking of Monty, on my way out I said, "they look good." Monty replied, "They ARE good."
-- Some members of the team were wearing "15 = 16" shirts. It's that kind of math that's got our economy in the tank if you ask me.
So that's what I've got. The main takeaway from today for me was the challenge that Nate faces. It's one thing to diagram a depth chart on paper, it's another to see all those big, multi-talented, athletic, versatile bodies all on the floor at once, going at it full-speed. Lots of choices. Baskin Robbins status.
-- Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org)