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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Practice report, Oct. 10

Practice report, Oct. 10
Posted by Dan Wolken

The Tigers held their final pre-preseason practice on Wednesday, and it was indeed a unique experience. The 15 Chinese coaches were all there, sitting along a wall at the Finch Center, scribbling notes and getting translation from Xia Song, who I wrote about in today’s newspaper article and in my previous blog entry. Plus, camera crews documenting the journey were all over the place. The Tigers’ usual media continent was there as well, along with a reporter from Slam Magazine in town working on a feature. The Tigers had several other visitors, including Bobby Parks and his son, Bobby Parks, Jr., who is one of the best young players in the city. I had a long talk with Chris Woolard, who is in charge of men’s basketball for Conference USA. He said the league’s TV schedule should come out sometime next week.

As for the practice itself, it once again felt like a late November or December practice. Freshman point guard Derrick Rose seems to get better each time I see him. Point guard Andre Allen has a sprained thumb on his right hand, but he’s playing through it. Guard Antonio Anderson’s wrist is bothering him, but he also practiced. At one point, I thought forward Pierre Niles was going to pass out from exhaustion after a drill. But to his credit, Niles took a minute to collect himself, went back in and finished practice.

One moment that stood out was when sophomore Doneal Mack went into traffic, made a nifty up-and-under move and finished a layup with his right hand. Remember, Mack is left-handed. At this point one year ago, Mack couldn’t make an uncontested layup with his right hand, much less a difficult one. It was such an impressive move, John Calipari had to stop practice for a minute and say to no one in particular, “Whooo…if he’s doing that with his right hand…Wow.” Calipari also got pumped up when forward Shawn Taggart executed a very nice-looking give-and-go to Joey Dorsey cutting in from the backdoor. It was the kind of play that showed Calipari that Taggart indeed has good instincts and skills.

And finally, I got a little preview of Memphis’ new uniforms. Don’t expect anything much different than what they were last year. The striping on last year’s uniforms actually did not meet NCAA specification. Since that was adidas’ goof, the NCAA let Memphis and a couple other teams who were wearing that uniform template finish the year with it. Basically, this year’s edition is the same uniform with some adjustment on the stripes.

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