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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sunday, 10/16, Practice Observations

Sunday practice observations
Posted by Dan Wolken

Like most people, I nonchalantly believed freshman Derrick Rose would immediately come in and start for the Tigers at point guard. Maybe that assumption was premature. Not that Rose hasn’t been great — he has, and he’s getting better every day — but I now believe sophomore Willie Kemp will be the starting point guard for the Nov. 5 opener against Tennessee-Martin.

This is based on two factors: 1) Kemp (right) is running with the “first team” during offensive dummy drills. 2) John Calipari is talking about Rose as a possible answer to Marvin Williams, who was effectively the sixth man on North Carolina’s national championship team in 2005 and was drafted No. 2 overall following his freshman season.

If this is indeed Calipari’s plan, I can certainly see some value in it. For one thing, you can keep last year’s starting lineup in tact. Second, when you think about personnel groupings, Kemp is probably the second-best 3-point shooter on the team to Doneal Mack. It would be nice to have one or the other on the floor most of the time. So if you start the game with Kemp and Antonio Anderson as your backcourt, you’ve got a playmaker and a shooter. Then you bring in Rose and Mack, and you’ve got a playmaker and a shooter as your second wave.

A few more things to think about:

– Once again, I loved the intensity and business-like approach the Tigers took toward practice all weekend. You don’t see a lot of joking around or wandering minds. The body language is really good.

– Rose isn’t the only guard who can elevate for a big-time dunk. Doneal Mack brought the house down Sunday morning when he drove baseline and posterized Joey Dorsey during one drill.

– Hashim Bailey is really impressing the coaching staff with his effort.

– Jeff Robinson is proving what we thought all along: He can defend the 4 position.

– The entire weekend was good for the program from a recruiting standpoint. There were a lot of local underclassmen involved, and the out of town kids like Xavier Henry and Durand Scott appeared to have a very good time. Though Elliot Williams was on his official visit, I’m not sure if there’s anything new that the Tigers could show him. Williams has been around the program and Calipari for a long time. He’s seen what he needs to see. If you could talk to any of the coaches who have been recruiting Williams, my guess is they’d say he’s been a very hard kid to read. Any info out there about Williams is conjecture; none of it is coming from him or his family. I fully expect to hear from Elliot about his college plans in the next couple weeks.

Posted Sunday, October 14th, 2007 at 11:14 pm

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