Oct. 3, 2013
RUSTON - Louisiana Tech point guard Speedy Smith was one of many players happy to go full speed in practice for the first time this fall, as was head coach Michael White.
The Bulldogs spent practice No. 4 working on skill development with their assigned assistant coach and then the reigns were let go as the team went full-throttle, as they do for 40 minutes on every game day, working on defensive breakdown drills in press man and zone.
"I was pleased with the intensity level," White said. "The guys are working at a high level. With nine upperclassmen, we are just so much more experienced than we have ever been. We can jump from drill to drill quicker. We can get a lot more work done.
"Our guys are more familiar with our drills and we are able to tweak drills a little bit, and the same thing really with our schemes offensively and defensively. We have a base in that all of our guys are real familiar with. We are going to be very similar to last season in that regard. It is just a matter of improving in the small areas."
It has been refreshing for coach White and his staff to have the amount of leadership on the floor in the first few practices.
Two years ago in White's first year at the helm LA Tech fielded only seven returners. Last season the team had nine returners. This season 11 Bulldogs with 20 years of combined playing experience will take the floor.
"We have a collection of veterans and captains who have really stepped up and been very, very vocal," White said. "Our practices are 10 times more vocal than they were two years ago and maybe five times as much as last year. We have a lot of older guys and it is nice to have. It is definitely an advantage for us."
With the collective bond and leadership on the team, players have been quick to hold each other accountable for their good play and, more importantly, their mistakes.
Cranking up the speed in practice has also meant adding more and more contact. So far, the team has responded well to the increased work load.
"I think we are in pretty good shape for this time of year," White said. "We are trying to gradually ease our way into more contact in practice, but our guys are working and we have stayed injury-free so far. I expect us in a month from now to be in even better shape."
With only 27 days remaining before the first exhibition game, improving conditioning and fine-tuning the details of special situations like out-of-bounds plays and press attacks will be addressed in practice going forward, as will all areas of the game.
"We will have to be organized as possible and crunch it all in by the time we tip in our first exhibition while continuing to skill-develop, define roles and get in game shape."
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