Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Blue and White Scrimmage Recap

(Copyright 2007 NBAE. Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

I thoroughly enjoyed the Blue and White Scrimmage today. The crowd was larger than I expected and probably more people were there than showed up for the open practice last year.

I think I should say who won, but truthfully, I don't remember looking at the scoreboard more than once or twice. I think the White team won. They played two, 10 minute periods.

Here was how the teams were split up, with an (s) designating who started for each squad.

--Mike Conley (s)
--Casey Jacobsen (s)
--Mike Miller (s)
--Hakim Warrick (s)
--Pau Gasol (s)
--Juan Carlos Navarro
--Andre Brown

--Damon Stoudamire (s)
--Tarence Kinsey (s)
--Rudy Gay (s)
--Stromile Swift (s)
--Darko Milicic (s)
--Brian Cardinal
--Dontell Jefferson
--Kyle Lowry (didn't play)

I don't remember seeing the other training camp invitee play (Kasib Powell). Chris Wallace just mentioned on the Chris Vernon Show that he has already been waived.

The most memorable part of the scrimmage was everyone holding their breath when Mike Conley went down. It was only a charlie-horse in his thigh. Here is a picture I took when Conley was getting looked at on the bench after he went down. You can see the trainer messaging the thigh.

Here are some of my random observations. Most Griz fans echo similar thoughts (messageboard thread on scrimmage).

--Neither team really played at full speed.
--Rudy can still dunk.
--Casey can shoot.
--Miller wore sweat pants. yuck!
--Darko has a nice lefty baby hook shot.
--Navarro (called "instant-grits" by his teammates) showed off his running tear drop in the lane...nice.
--Rudy played the 3 and 4.
--With Kyle out, Navarro and Kinsey had to run some point.
--Players were conscious of not trying to hold the ball for very long (one of the points of emphasis from Coach Iavaroni). This unfortunately led to some careless turnovers, but that's alright. This is still a work in progress.
--Kinsey missed Stro for an alley-oop. TK7 (my nickname for him) immediately acknowledged that he missed it, but Stro still pouted and loafed after the fact. Reactions like that are going to get him sat on the bench this year. He needs to just keep playing and not dwell on things like that.

Now I want to talk a bit about Conley vs Damon. Damon looked good physically. Clearly more healthy than last year and could be potentially better than he was when we signed him. But, unlike many of my fellow Griz fans (and probably chip and spartacus too), I still see him as a point guard best suited for a half court team and not what this team needs to ignite a fast paced offense that is spurred using ball-hawking defense. Conley plays the point more like I envision the team needing. When Conley penetrates, he is great at keeping his dribble and leave as many options open as possible. Today Damon picked up his dribble a little earlier than I think he should have a few times. Damon showed off a great stroke today (clearly he is light years ahead of Conley in terms of shooting). While Damon looked healthy physically, I still have my doubts that he will be anything but average on defense. But enough of that. Both point guards looked good. Damon probably surprised people with his health and play. I'm glad Conley only has a thigh bruise and wish we all could have seen Lowry (the soon-to-be fan favorite) play today.

I also want to discuss some of the stuff we are doing on offense for fans that couldn't make it to the scrimmage. We are using more on-ball screens than in the past. In addition, when our bigs are in the high post, they are handing the ball off to a curling point guard often.

Here is a breakdown of one of the common half-court sets we used:

1.) PG passes to the right wing, then goes and picks for the PF on the left lower block.
2.) Either the PF gets the ball on the right lower block, or more likely, the ball is passed to the C at the top of the key.
3.) Then the left wing goes down and picks for the PG who is now on the left lower block.
4.) The PG pops out to the left wing off of that screen, then curls around the C for a hand-off pass.
5.) From there, the PG penetrates and makes something happen.

The Blue team ran that exact play to start the game and Mike Conley penetrated and found a diving Pau for an easy dunk. Nice.

Finishing up, here are some links. Wes at 730ESPN has audio from the scrimmage. Yahoo has pictures from the scrimmage.

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