October 22, 2016
UCSB Men's basketball practice at the Thunderdome
Eric Childress fully participated in this practice, unlike the last one I attended. Max Heidegger did not practice again, but he's no longer wearing the boot.
After a shoot around, practice started with a 3-man weave vs. 2 defenders, and would end in the other direction with a 2-on-1 fast break drill.
They changed up the 3-man weave drills to develop new skills. For instance, passing would be incorporated into the drill instead of dribbling.
The players looked much sharper than the practice I attended a couple weeks ago. Their cuts were crisp, and they hustled to the next drill.
Clifton Powell is playing better. His footwork has improved.
They practiced the 4-out offense, where the 4 player trails.
They were sluggish in Thursday's scrimmage, but looked much better today after Coach Williams dug into them. A bright spot in Thursday's scrimmage was that Ami Lakoju finished everything down low. His jump hook has improved immensely. You could count on him to be athletic, defend, block shots, rebound, be strong, and take up space underneath. It looks like he has added offense to his game.
In the inside-out game, after the post player passes it back out, he comes out and sets the pick for the player with the ball (the recipient of the pass), i.e. he "follows the ball."
They worked on finishing drills for the post players, with the defender using pads to push the finisher out. A point of emphasis was to finish with two hands, not just a one-handed layup, which players tend to do when anticipating contact. Coach Kevin Bromley worked with the big men on this drill. Later on, the drill was done with the defender not using pads. There was a lot of contact. See video below.
The wings also performed shooting drills.
Later on, they worked on out of bounds plays. Things got more physical as scores were being kept with the Blue teams vs. the White teams.
Jalen Canty just blew up Sam Wolters with a huge screen. Ouch.
Gabriel Vincent is not just shooting outsider jumpers. He is driving more to the rim.
Coach Matt Stock was emphasizing the use of the forearm when defending against the out of bounds play.
Tyler Jackson was fully participating in 4-man weave drills, so that's encouraging.
The missed 4-man weave layups and missed free throws were tallied up. That resulted in more wind sprints for all the players as punishment. As fast as we know Jalen Canty is (see Youtube videos of him out-running opponents' linebackers and defensive backs in high school football highlights), he finished last among the big men in sprints. That is encouraging. That means, not only are our post players big and beefy, but they can also run.
They then ran the Kentucky drill.
Ami appears to have a decent jumper from the elbow (high post).
Coach Williams and Coach Stock mentioned the flathead and switching. I have no idea what that means.
But the coaches were telling the players to move while the ball is in the air.
What I noticed with all the coaches were they coach all the players individually as well as collectively. The walk-ons received just as much attention as stalwarts Gabe Vincent and Eric Childress. The coaches were constantly grabbing teaching moments, whether the players were starters or walk-ons.
Christian Terrell is a natural passer. He sees the court better than most freshmen.
At one point, Coach Williams yelled "WTF are you running?" after players got lost on offense. lol
There is room for improvising on offense. If a cutter recognizes a mismatch in the post, he can halt and reverse, letting the passer hit the post. But the passer has to also see the mismatch, and not just drift outside, posing no threat.
Wow, our interior defense has the potential to be real tough. There's a lot of length and beef in the lane. And depth. Penetrators not coming in strong will get rejected.
Coach was adamant with the 3-2 zone defense that the ball does not go into the high post. "This is where we lose games, when the ball gets into the HOUSE (high post)." Because once the ball gets to the high post, the passer can pass it down low or to the weak side for an open perimeter shot. Defending the house meant the weak side wing or defender at the top of the zone had to prevent the entry pass. Communication is key.
With the 3-2 zone defense, the wing defender should be positioned and square to steer the ball into the trap up top. The bigger you are, the better the communication has to be if there is a deficiency in quickness. With Alex Hart up top, Christian Terrell and Jarriese Blackmon at the wings, the top part of the 3-2 zone defense is very long and intimidating. I saw a lot of deflected passes.
With the help defense, due to the rotation of the ball, the weak side defender cannot be in help position, but he has to be able to get to help position quickly. A lot of real estate has to be covered when the ball swings weak side and the defender must close out on the shooter.
When the ball goes to the corner, it is essential to prevent the entry pass into the high post. If the weak side defender cheats to the perimeter shooter, the top of the circle defender has to defend the high post.
In our zone offense, the ball goes from corner to corner, with the three guards twisting, or circling. The two post players must always be opposite-diagonal across the lane from each other. There's always the high-low pass option.
In the offense against the man-to-man defense (Big West schools play more man than zone defense), then the two post players may sometimes end up both in the high post.
JD Slajchert may be a walk-on player, but he might be one of the leaders on the team. He's always encouraging his teammates, and communicates loudly. So even if you may not see his name in the box score, he's got to be one of the more valuable bench players with his presence and knowledge.
With practicing closing, Coach Williams reminded the players to eat right and have the discipline to get to bed early (it was a Saturday). He said it was important for each player to transition from role to role, whether as a passer, a screener, a dribbler, a shooter, a defender, or a rebounder.
After practice, a few players worked on their perimeter shot, including Sam Walters, Alex Hart, and Felix White. The first two are natural catch-and-shooters, shooting in rhythm. White has a good stroke, but needs to work on his footwork and squaring up. The placement of his right foot isn't consistent.
Here is video of the practice session.