September 23, 2015, 11 AM
UCSB Men's Basketball practice with Coach Robert Williams
Redshirt freshman center Ami Lakoju was the most vocal Gaucho when they were running 4-man weave drills and the jailbreak offense, with and without opposing defenders. He also appeared to be hustling the most, showing surprising speed and athleticism, in addition to his strength.
Freshman forward Maxwell Kupchak also hustled, with speed and agility in his wiry 6'7" frame. He dived for several loose balls.
Freshman wing Justin Burks is a natural athlete with an easy release on his jump shot, although it appears his release appears a touch slow.
The "first" team during these drills are: TJ Taylor, Gabriel Vincent, Michael Bryson, John Green, and Sam Beeler. The second team consisted of: Eric Childress, Dejuan Smith, Mitch Brewe, Justin Burks, and Alex Hart. The third team was: Grant Troutt, Jarriesse Blackmon, Lakoju, and Kupchak. Aside from Bryson, Green, and Vincent being sure starters, the other spots are up for grabs, with the battle for point guard duties being most intense with Childress and Taylor in the running. The logjam at the 5 spot will include Beeler, Brewe, Lakoju and Tyler Jackson.
Jackson ran with the fourth team, and he seemed to labor a bit
with his stride, which they are working to improve on. John Green had
to work on modifying his running stride over the years to prevent
further injuries to his feet, to resounding success.
Gaucho Hoops ("GH"): How will this team stack up this season, Coach Williams?
Coach Robert Williams ("BW"): We will run more this season. Right now, the guys are not in shape, so we're running conditioning drills to get in some cardio work. Up to this point, we've been working on skills, but we are now working on their conditioning.
GH: This team's make up is obviously different without Big Al [graduated center Alan Williams]. What changes do you foresee?
BW: Without the big fella in the middle, the offense doesn't revolve around him getting maximum touches. The Big 3 of Vincent, Bryson, and Green are so good that we have many options for them on offense. They'll have more scoring opportunities as we open up the floor for them to penetrate, post up, or knock down the outside shot.
GH: Will the offense look more like when OJ [Orlando Johnson] and Nunn [James Nunnally] were playing?
BW: Yes, we took advantage of their dominance on the wings, too. But OJ and Nunn were better at posting up than our wings on this team. Although, John is very good at posting up his man.
GH: You're looking to run more this season. Will you apply more defensive pressure on the perimeter, too?
BW: I'm not sure yet. Every team has an identity, including on defense, so we'll have to see how this team plays defense.
GH: So do you anticipate mixing up the defenses again, between the zone and man-to-man?
GH: What do you anticipate the starting line up to be?
BW: Bryson, Vincent, and Green. TJ and Eric will share point guard duties. We'll probably rotate Sam and Mitch at the 5, depending on the matchups. Sam, Mitch, and Ami will share the duties at the 5. We're not looking to replace Big Al's numbers on offense, but we are looking for rebounding production and toughness on defense.
GH: What about the newcomers and other returnees?
BW: Jarriesse has a good outside shot. Ami will get minutes. We monitor his heart rate and he's been cleared to practice for months. Tyler is working with the big men at times as we are limiting his running as we work on his running stride. He has great hands for a kid his size, and is a very smart player. Maxwell is fundamentally very sound and skilled. We are very fortunate to recruit him here. He was doing great in August due to his skill set, but with lack of conditioning, he is coming down to earth in September. But he will be a good one as he improves his conditioning and gets stronger.
In fact, that's true with all the freshmen and even the veterans. As the players get tired, they get sloppy and commit more mistakes, and make bad decisions. That's why conditioning and why running the drills when they are tired is so important.
The jail break offense opens up the floor, especially for the wings.
GH: How will the 2015-2016 team compare to the OJ and Nunn days?
BW: Aside from the differences between OJ and Nunn already mentioned, Jaime Serna provided more offense and agility on those teams. With the 5 spot on this team, we want defense and rebounding from the rotation of Beeler, Brewe, Lakoju, and Jackson. With Big Al, we got scoring and rebounding in the low block, and passing out of the post.
This year's team will more resemble the teams of Mark Hull, Branduin Fullove, Nick Jones and of Alex Harris, Chris Devine, and James Powell. The 2, 3, and 4 spots will be our strongest positions with Vincent, Bryson, and Green.
We will emphasize side posts, isolations in the post (with John Green) and double screens. The goal is to open the floor and create driving lanes.
GH: Who will be the best teams in the Big West?
BW: Hawaii and UCI.
GH: Thanks Coach.