I tried to type out as many thoughts as I could while listening. These aren’t actual quotes so don’t take them verbatim:
- Justin Gray and Norense Odiase are doing well. Norense underwent some sort of platelet treatment that’s helped a ton and he also lost a bunch of weight, which has helped even more.
- C.J. Williamson is the best open court player. Really worked on his jump shot and is improving.
- The Canadian tour helped some of the young guys get some game experience. Also said the Canadian tour was good culturally for the players and said that it was good for recruiting.
- Devon Thomas is a naturally talented passer and playmaker. He has to overcome his size, but has made Keenan Evans a better player. Also, Thomas has had five systems he has had to learn over the past five years, and that’s a tough transition. Not sure who will start, but Evans has the edge right now.
- Tough for Robert Turner because he had to play with so many freshman, but thinks that at the point guard spot, Texas Tech is ahead. Says that Evans has transformed his body and grown up and matured physically and mentally.
- Was talking with Rokas Ulvydas, who said that the biggest difference between last year and this year is that this practice hard. It’s tough and going up against some big players, and Keenan has made that adjustment.
- Justin Gray, needs to test and make sure that he is completely healthy, this surgery was just a scope, clean things up. Not a major surgery. Not sure how or when he’ll be used.
- Want to push offensively and create more possessions and opportunities. Need some more of that open court play that will make this a better team and an up-tempo style. The frontcourt players are pretty mobile as well. With Isaiah Manderson Rokas Ulvydas, still figuring out eligibility. Sounds like Smith didn’t rule out Ulvydas.
- Also, Smith praised Matt Temple, said that Clark Lammert helped get him on the team, says that Temple has a nice touch and a big body and knows how to play.
Notebook: Smith Remembers Saunders. LAJ’s Krista Pirtle talked with head coach Tubby Smith, who said that Flip Saunders, who passed away earlier this week due to cancer, was a dear friend and Saunders son played for Smith from 2004-06:
“We all lost a very dear friend in the profession in Flip Saunders this week,” Smith said. “I had the chance to coach his son when I was in Minnesota. I got to know Flip Saunders very well, coaching his son Ryan at Minnesota. He was one of the most respected men and coaches in sports, not just in basketball, but in sports across the board at every level. He was really a special guy. We wish the best to his family.”
Pirtle also has notes on F Justin Gray, who talks about his most recent surgery (mentioned above, it was a scope, not surgery to repair things) and he was out about a week before he was back on the court running and jumping. Pirtle also notes that the Lady Raiders have named Jamie Roe, Larryn Brooks and Recee’ Caldwell are the captains for the team this year.