Tiger basketball camp report
November 4, 2006
Niles returns When freshman Pierre Niles first learned he would need arthroscopic surgery to clean up some cartilage in his right knee, the time frame given for a return was somewhere between four and six weeks.
"I really didn't want to hear that," Niles said. But after a diligent and demanding rehabilitation schedule, Niles returned to the court Friday fewer than three weeks removed from the Oct. 16 procedure. Though the 6-8, 280-pound Niles clearly wasn't in top shape, just having him back on the court so soon was a breakthrough for the former Ridgeway star.
"I'm stunned," Tigers coach John Calipari said. "I know that's probably the first time he's ever pushed through pain like that and kept his weight down and committed to something that way. Now he's just got to get his wind and all that stuff. It will be good to see him out there playing."
Niles' return is timely in light of center Kareem Cooper's indefinite suspension for a violation of team rules. Though Niles said he was still a little tentative about playing in Monday's exhibition against Christian Brothers, he's going to push himself to get back in shape for the Nov. 16 opener against Jackson State
As far as the knee itself, Niles reported no problems following Friday's workout.
"It's not sore," Niles said. "It's still tight a little bit, but when I start working it more, it will be better next week."
Though the Tigers out-rebounded LeMoyne-Owen 63-41 in their 113-63 exhibition victory Thursday, Calipari didn't feel their rebounding was up to standard.
LeMoyne-Owen got 17 offensive rebounds, which shouldn't have happened given the Tigers' size advantage.
Calipari devoted a significant part of Friday's practice to drills that emphasize rebounding.
"I wasn't happy," Calipari said. "When I went to that small lineup, they didn't rebound. Part of it was I had the small team and (freshman Hashim Bailey) on the floor together. When you have the small team with (junior Joey Dorsey), it's not that big an issue."
The Tigers will practice today and Sunday at FedExForum. They had only practiced once there before Thursday's exhibition game, and Calipari said it was clear against LeMoyne-Owen that the Tigers needed to get a better feel for the building. ... Former Vanderbilt coach Jan van Breda Kolff, who is now coaching private youth clinics in Nashville, observed the Tigers' practice on Friday.
-- Dan Wolken