Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Workout Impressions

Well I have been to 4 workouts now and the perceptions I have gotten have dramatically changed. The first workout I felt like a fish out of water. Now it is more like a fish that is in water but in a different part of the lake for the first time.

I now can make comparisons between workouts and start noticing differences. I am starting to get a feeling for what to expect and am aware when someone fails to reach those expectations. I can get a sense of who is fast and who isn't but more important than my feelings, I have a history of reps that gives me actual numbers to associate with those feelings (for example, how many shots did he take and how many did he make during a particular 60 second drill).

I also have started to get a better feeling of what the players think about the Grizzlies workouts and from their comments I am putting together a sense of the players who like to be pushed and those that don't. To a player I have heard the Grizzlies workouts are the most taxing physically, test the broadest range of skills and that is true for both the individual drills and the one-on-one drills. The players I am getting the best feeling about all say they like the Grizzlies workout because they felt it pushed them to be their best. I like hearing that. One player actually said he was more interested in playing in Memphis after the workout.

Tony Barone is at the same time stand up comic and strict coach. He can break you out in a laugh and then make a small suggestion that really improves a players performance. It seems unlikely anyone could leave his workouts without a good idea of some things he could do to play better. I doubt anyone leaves his workouts without a funny story to tell his friends either!

Usually Chris Wallace and Marc Iavaroni are dispassionate on-lookers, not interrupting the coach as he puts the players through the paces. One noticeable exception occurred with Thursdays workout when Iavaroni altered a particular drill. Outside of that one time I can't remember anyone but Barone directing the show. The interesting thing was at the time Iavaroni altered the drill I wondered why. With the benefit of time I realized that he wanted to see if the players had a particular skill and figured out a good way to test it. I think he was pleased with what he saw as well.

The funniest moment occurred when one player attempted to draw a charge during a contract drill. He sold the flop well and looked like he was completely run over. Immediately Barone jumped onto the court and asked him if that was the image he wanted the coaching staff to remember him by. Point made. Then he said he was going to fine him now because that is what the NBA is starting to do. Great comic relief! The most impressive moment had to be Kevin Love hitting 7 of 10 three point shots at the end of his workout from 5 different locations on the court although DJ White's booming 'taps' off the glass were a close second.

I love the way most of the workouts end as well. Barone offers the players one chance to hit a half court shot. Usually he says one of the on-lookers is offering a Lexus as a prize if someone hits it. So far no one has in Memphis but Barone did say the first time they did this two people hit the shot. Barone regrettably informed the players that since both hit the shot they cancelled each other out!

That is how I see Barone running the workouts. He chastises, he pushes, he demands everything the players have but he doesn't berate and he uses humor to keep the workouts upbeat and moving. Barone also doesn't talk to the other coaches or Chris Wallace during the workout. He gives every player regardless of their chances of being drafted 5th, 28th or not at all, the same respect and attention he gives the big name players. I really think he is an ideal workout coach in that respect (although I admit the sample set is rather small).

And move is the best word to describe the workouts. Players only get to rest long enough to take a drink of water before they are on to the next activity from dribbling exercises to fast break weaves to around the world shooting contests to timed shots and defensive drills. If you want to rest do it while you are shooting free throws. Rarely does a workout pass the 25 minute mark without someone grabbing their shorts. Barone almost always asks that player if he is tired. When he says 'no coach' he chastises him about having better said Hell No Coach (or some other expletive) and that if he says no coach his next move will be taking a seat on the bench. It's funny stuff but it also sends the message that you have to want it more than anyone else to make it in the NBA. That is what separates good players from great ones.

BallHype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

Nice read Chip. Glad you are getting your land legs under you

GrizzledGrizzFan said...

Nice read Chip.