Sorry for the delay on the open practice recap. I didn’t get to watch the Walking Dead premiere last night so that became priority one when I got home.
I want to start by saying how much more I liked the format of the season ticket holder preview this year than in years past. It wasn’t an event. It was about basketball and basketball only. I got there right at six so I missed the warm ups. The coaches divided the roster into two teams. White consisted of Desmond Ridenour, Darius Lewis, Jerry Jones, Micah Mason, Nick Foschia, Christian Johnston and Brandon Cartmill. The last two walk ons didn’t play much. Ovie Soko, Dominique McKoy, Derrick Colter, Tra’vaughn White and Jeremiah Jones wore blue. You could fairly call it first team versus second team. The two sides started by practicing the half court offense against man defense and a 2-3 zone. Next, they initiated the transition offense off a missed or made free throw. The defending team played what looked like a 2-1-2 press. During the remaining fifteen minutes, they played a structured scrimmage. I didn’t catch the final score but not surprisingly Blue won going away even though White used some made three’s to keep it close early.
Here are some quick observations.
– Wow! This team is going to play really fast and they’ll get it done off the rebound. All five players on Blue could make the necessary outlet pass to trigger the break. If needed, all five could put the ball on the floor, too.
– McKoy made a nice first impression and he surprised me with his versatility. He went down the lane on the dribble drive at least twice and though he didn’t finish either time, his ball handling surpassed my expectations. He passed well, too. Off the ball, McKoy found space and his teammates rewarded him with easy layups. After conceding an offensive rebound to Foscia early and being corrected by the coaches for it, he gobbled up everything near him that Soko didn’t manage to snag. Ferry seemed to pay extra attention to “Domo” and for good reason. He looks like he could become a very important player this year and next.
– As I suspected, Colter played the role of facilitator but White looked more like a wing than a second point guard. Ridenour played the point for the second team with Mason playing the two.
– Colter and White should defend opposing guards well enough to play together. Ridenour broke Colter down once or twice, but I wouldn’t say the backup had an easy evening against the first stringer. White kept Mason pretty quiet.
– Rather than play a second guard to break down the 2-1-2 press, the Dukes employed a forward to support the point guard. This freed both wings to get into position for an open three pointer or baseline drive.
– The same forward that helped with the break slotted as the zone buster against the 2-3.
– Jerry Jones shot very well as did White. All around, the finishing inside could have improved.
– I watched a practice today, but from the intensity level in the gym, it looked like a real game.
– Soko looks like he will have more freedom in the offense than I expected though certainly not as much as he had in the summer.
– Lewis got a lot of attention from Coach John Rhodes. His defense looked much better than it did over the summer.
– There were about 150 people there tonight; most I spoke with afterwards came away excited.
– Isaiah Watkins, Jordan Robinson, and LG Gill sat out with minor injuries or illnesses.