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Men's Hoops Begins Practice In Style

October 17, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Assistant Coach Jason Eaker (left) works with Brolin Floyd during the lane slides drill on Friday night.  The practice served as the first of the season for the 2008-09 men's hoopsters.

Assistant Coach Jason Eaker (left) works with Brolin Floyd during the lane slides drill on Friday night. The practice served as the first of the season for the 2008-09 men's hoopsters.

The Liberty men's basketball team officially opened up the 2008-09 season with its first full team practice of the year. Nationwide, NCAA Division I programs were allowed to start full team practices on Friday, beginning at 5 p.m. The Flames were no different, ready to go for their three-hour session inside the Vines Center.

Liberty's first practice was very structured, beginning with lane slides, working on defending down screens. Next, the Flames worked two line outlets. During this drill, there were a number of options the team utilized. First, the guard would throw ahead to another guard, who would take the ball to the hoop. The next option was the guard pulling up for a three-point attempt and the post dribbling on the trail. The final option was the guard pulling up and distributing to the other player on the screen-and-roll.

Next were a couple four-on-four drills, beginning with rebounding and then transitioning into some full-court action. During the full-court portion the team worked on weakside down screens and ball screen-and-rolls.

The Flames followed up with five-on-five sets, including a five-on-two drill. There were a number of five-on-five games to five points. Once a team got to five points, the player who made the "winning" shot then had to sink a free throw to finalize the game. If the player was unable to succeed on the free throw attempt, the game continued until a made free throw could cap the five-point game. The losing team then had to run two full-court up and backs.

Liberty continued the practice session with a five-on-five full-court, live-action game. Five minutes were put on the clock and Blue won the game, 11-10. The Blue team consisted of Carter McMasters, David Minaya, Jesse Sanders, Anthony Smith, James Spencer and Bill Weaver. The Red team was made up of Seth Curry, Brolin Floyd, Kyle Ohman, Austin Smith and Johnny Stephene.

During the five-minute game, Anthony Smith shined, scoring nine points, including a three-point bucket on a stellar assist from Sanders. The Red team had its points spread out between Curry, Floyd, Austin Smith and Stephene. With his team trailing by three points with the clock winding down, Curry was fouled on a three-point attempt, sending the Charlotte, N.C., native to the line. Curry's first attempt rattled in and out, sealing victory for the Blue team. Curry sank the last two attempts, lending the ball to McMasters who made the free throw attempt to officially claim victory for the Blue squad.

Practice concluded with the 4:15 drill, which consists of the team getting a set number of shots up in four minutes and 15 seconds.

Head Coach Ritchie McKay's Practice Quotes

Thoughts about first day of practice
"Our effort is really good. We have tremendous kids with excellent attitudes, but we have to keep in mind how youthful they are. I don't say that as an excuse, but more importantly as a reminder about how important teaching needs to be done visually and very well explained with enough repetition to become fruitful."

Who had an impressive first practice?
"We have freshmen every day who step up. Today it was Jesse Sanders who had a great practice, as did Seth Curry and Brolin Floyd. Austin Smith did well and Carter McMasters showed us flashes of brilliance. We have a good group, and there are a lot of guys who can contribute for us, which is an exciting prospect for our future."

- Tyler Baker is currently on a one day on and one day off schedule in order to rest his foot. Baker sat out today's practice, but will take full part in tomorrow's workout.
- Bill Weaver is the only player not wearing the number that will appear on his game day jersey. On game days, Weaver wears number 34, but in practice you can find him wearing number 32.
- On a similar frontier, David Minaya, a transfer from Tennessee Tech, does not have a number on his practice jersey. Minaya will wear number 14 once he hits the floor, after sitting out the 2008-09 season due to the NCAA Transfer rule.
- The Flames donned their brand new Nike practice gear. The set the Flames wore today was navy blue, with a reversible red side. The men's hoopsters also have a grey set with a red reversible side.