Saturday, October 18, 2008

'A, B, C ... Hey, You Made the Top Three'


Jim Calhoun's season-opening practices are known to be particularly grueling, and today was no exception.

A three-hour practice that started off at Guyer Gymnasium and moved over to Gampel Pavilion featured a lot of running and took its toll on several players. In fact, it left one player injured.

Sophomore guard Donnell Beverly hurt his hip while planting his foot during a drill about 20 minutes into practice and wasn't with the team when the media was invited in to watch the continuation of practice at Gampel. Calhoun doesn’t believe the injury is serious.

There were other lesser casualties. At one point, Jonathan Mandeldove was unable to run a second consecutive suicide sprint. Jeff Adrien, who Calhoun praised as one of the best-conditioned players on the team, cramped up at one point and had difficulty running a final lap. And as for the poor freshmen …

"I never expected it to be like this," said Scottie Haralson. "It was tougher than I thought, but I made it through. I'm just trying to work hard, make myself better."

Haralson made it a bit tougher on himself during the dreaded one-on-one box-out drill. A player must grab three straight defensive rebounds before he can leave the lane. Give up one and he starts from scratch.

Haralson was in for a long time at one point, and was so drained he could barely raise his arms as one teammate after another grabbed offensive boards against him. But he finally got out.

"I give him credit," said Calhoun. "After last night, when he had a miserable performance, he did a lot of ball-faking today, tried to take good shots. He was actually much better today."

Overall, Calhoun gave his players a grade of 'C' for their first official practice of the season (which reminds us of what Rodney Dangerfield joke: "A, B, C … hey, you made the top three.")

But we digress.

"We've had first days where we've had a lot of energy," Calhoun noted. "Two years ago we had a young team that was so energetic, and we won 17 games. It was a good 'C' effort. That attitude was good, the effort was good, but we just weren't quite as good as I would like us to be."

Calhoun said freshman point guard Kemba Walker got off to a good start "but ran out of gas." Adrien was "very good," and Hasheem Thabeet was "really pretty special."

As for Craig Austrie, however: "There's something just a little off with Craig. I don't know what it is, he's just a little off."

At one point during the practice, Calhoun stopped the team during a scrimmage and yelled "Five useless (expletive) dribbles. Pass the ball ahead!!!"

The losing team in the scrimmage had to run suicides. When the team didn't finish the suicides in less than 28 seconds, the whole team had to run (except a hunched-over Mandeldove).

To end practice, players had to make 7 of 10 foul shots. They were unable to do it the first time and had to run a lap. After failing a second time, they ran a sprint.

Finally, the Huskies made four in a row to notch the 70 percent number, and practice was over.

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