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Press Practice

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just found this article online in the ASP and thought I would share it.


We're talkin' about practice

By Aaron Scholder


Updated: Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Last Thursday, UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Will Brown invited members of the local press to partake in a condensed 90-minute practice, simulating what members of the team go through nearly every day during the season.

As I am aspiring to be something of an intrepid reporter, I took up the challenge of being put through my paces along with my fellow ASP editor, Arts and Entertainment Editor Irving DeJohn. We were two of 15 assembled members of the media to participate, many of whom are veterans of both print and broadcast journalism.

As I met Irving in the locker room to sign our release forms — can’t have the university being responsible for someone’s lack of physical aptitude — I suddenly realized to myself that the last organized basketball activity I took part in was me being the last cut after elementary school team tryouts.

The realization kicked in when we entered the team’s locker room where we were given a crash course in scouting the opposition.

After we were handed our practice jerseys, we took a seat as Brown and assistant coach Chad O’Donnell showed us a typical scouting video the team would watch before a game. This one was a tape of last year’s season-opening opponent Villanova.

We were handed a paper scouting report of Villanova to follow along with the video, although it didn’t help much as we were given a rundown of Villanova’s players and plays. The numerous terms for plays, defenses and offenses that the opposing team uses made for a difficult mix of word soup. It quickly became evident that remembering all the different terms is kind of like studying for a logic midterm. Not easy.

Great Dane players are shown videos like this multiple times before each game to get them familiarized with their opponent, right down to each opposing player’s on-court tendencies.

Following the scouting session, we were brought out onto the court at the SEFCU Arena where we were put through typical stretching and warm-up exercises by strength coach Blake Cundiff. This involved us loosening up leg muscles in both prone and standing positions.

Brown then started the ball-handling part of the practice with a two-man passing drill in which we were put into lines of four and told to slide down the court baseline-to-baseline continuously passing the ball to a partner on another line.

I quickly accomplished the feat of messing up during this drill by missing a furious chest pass by Fox 23 sports reporter James Hill and having to run after the ball as it rolled to a side court.

After we completed the passing drill, we were instructed to begin what is known as a weave shooting drill in which three-man teams make two passes while running down the court with one member shooting a layup and the other two shooting off a pass from the sideline.

This instruction originally confused many of the assembled participants before we were able to get a handle on it and the drill started to flow smoothly. I actually made one layup, marking the only successful shot attempt of my three on the day.

We were then given a lesson in offensive and defensive positioning by Brown, who individually placed each media member where he saw fit, which made for some light-hearted ribbing between the coach and press.

Our final test of the day had us putting that newly-learned positioning to use in a series of 5-on-5 possessions, in which I was teamed with Irving. As I cautiously made my way to the point position, which was the key position in the drill, Brown did not love what he saw.

“You really look like you don’t want to be point right now,” Brown said. Inside I agreed but what I said did not match that feeling as I responded by dismissing his opinion.

As we played in our third offensive rotation, I had my chance to put up a shot from the perimeter and I did so with hope but not ability as my rusty basketball skills showed themselves. The shot missed the rim and barely hit the backboard as Brown claimed it was “a little windy” in the arena.

Funny, I didn’t feel a breeze.

Because we were one of two losing teams, as our last activity we were forced to run a full-court baseline-to-baseline run in 18 seconds or less, which is not easy when you have out-of-shape veteran reporters doing it, though we were able to complete the drill with time to spare.

Brown closed the practice by offering congratulations to those who participated in the practice.

“I wanted to have fun with it and hopefully shed some light to what we are trying to do on a daily basis,” Brown said. “I was impressed with the participation, the focus and the effort that everyone involved gave.”

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