When they lifted the curtain today, the players were working in two main groups. On one end of the court, the guards and wings were doing three point shooting drills and on the other end, the big men were working on bank shots and post moves. A few of the big men had to run some line drills but overall, it looked like a lightweight workout.
Once the official practice ended, Carl Landry, Hassan Whiteside and Donté Greene individually worked on shooting free throws. Omri Casspi and Antoine Wright went back to their shooting contests while Tyreke and Francisco worked together on mid-range jumpers.
Coaches Notes and Quotes:
- Coach Westphal on the state of practice: “Luther hasn’t made it back yet. Other than that, we had thirteen healthy bodies and a good spirited workout. We tried to work on our focus, concentration and execution because right now that is the thing that is hurting us the most. Either unforced turnovers or lapses of focus where we need a play and we don’t make it happen or we give something back to them whether it’s a cheap foul or not executing at the time when we need to do it. We’re close, but until we get to that point where we can play with more poise when situations call for it, then that’s all we’ll be is close.”
- On the turnover issues from the pre-season rearing their ugly head against Memphis on Saturday: “I don’t think it’s complacency but I think it cost us the game to drift back into that. I think we are still second in the league in fewest turnovers and I want to stay there all year. That game was marred by poor execution and we want to keep that to a minimum.”
- On the status of the defense: “Defense starts with having an idea of what the other team is trying to do and getting in a stance, and being alert, and having your team on the same page and making them take tough shots. The idea is to make them make field goals and not free throws. We had a few plays where we got a stop and either didn’t secure the rebound or fouled them unnecessarily and those kinds of things are what we looked at in the films today and what we worked on in practice because that can be the difference between giving yourself a chance to win and taking yourself out of the game.”
- On how the bench has played: “I think our bench can be one of the strengths of our team. We’re bringing DeMarcus, JT, Darnell, Cisco and Luther primarily, that group can get us the lead sometimes, and when we have a lead, build a bigger lead. I think we have good potential there.”
- On keeping the players happy with minutes: “That’s one thing I never think about. It’s the players job to keep the coach happy, not the coach’s job to keep the player happy. I tell them the truth and I try to build their confidence and let them know what’s expected of them and then if they play well, they’ll be happy. If they don’t play well, I won’t be happy.”
- On Luther Head’s availability (death in the family) for Wednesday: “He was trying to get back for today but there was some plane problems. I expect that we should see him tomorrow and we will see what kind of condition he is in and where we go from there. We’ll make that decision on Wednesday.”
I was able to grab a couple of quotes from some of the players leaving the floor today. Here are those exchanges:
- Tyreke Evans on how far away he thinks he is from being an elite defender: “Not that far, I just need to stay focused. I need to lock down my guy, and keep my teammates focused on both the offense and defensive end.”
- Tyreke on whether he takes as much pride on the defensive end as he does on the offensive end: “Not yet but I think I can.”
- DeMarcus Cousins on playing alongside Dalembert: “We haven’t really got an opportunity to play a lot together to build the chemistry so as we continue to practice, I’ll have a better answer.”
- Jason Thompson on remaining positive when he would prefer to be playing a lot more: “It’s kind of frustrating, but I’ve talked to veteran guys and I’ve seen situations like this and there is no good way to come out of it if you’re negative. You know that everything is not the way you want it all the time but for it to get better, you can’t complain, you can’t put your head down, you have to keep playing and then know that there are better times in the future.”
- Jason Thompson on what the Coach has told him he needs to do to earn more minutes: “I don’t think it’s anything I’m doing that’s stopping my minutes from going up. I think we have a lot of talent on this team. It’s not that I’m wanting to accept how it’s going but it is what it is for now. We’ve only played six games so far.”
- JT on shooting the three?: “I worked at it during the summer but I don’t want to come out there gunning it and slinging it a little bit but, if the opportunity is there, why not have confidence in it.”
I absolutely loved what Coach Westphal had to say about the players needing to keep him happy and not the other way around. Right now, the team is healthy and with the light schedule, they are really getting a chance to catch up on lost time after a pre-season of minor but nagging injuries.