Roy Williams isn’t about to endure another sub-par season at North Carolina. So he went old school with the Tar Heels’ summer training.
He ran their asses off.
UNC used the same conditioning program Dean Smith’s boys used in the summer of ’81, back when Williams was the assistant in charge of summer training. If it was good enough for Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Sam Perkins, Williams says it’s good enough for this group. From the Asheville Citizen-Times:
“I told them I thought they were a bunch of pansies, and we got to get tougher,” Williams said.
“Players are so pampered now,” he said. “I wanted them to know I don’t care how they feel if they have a hangnail. There was some grousing in the locker room … but I told them to get their butts out there and do it.
“(Sophomore forward) John Henson was the greatest (example). He was panicking and stressing out. I told him to shut up and run.”
Being in basketball shape usually isn’t a problem for UNC. Williams’ teams are always among the nation’s most up-tempo squads. This was about getting players out of their comfort zones by pushing them to levels they didn’t know they could reach.
“It challenged a lot of people, and you push yourself beyond what you’re used to,” Tyler Zeller told the Raleigh News & Observer. “I think pretty much everyone on the team would agree that it’s the toughest thing we’ve ever done, as far as conditioning – or anything, as far as running.”
How much running? Three times a week over four weeks. Players started by running a mile, followed by two 200-meter dashes. By the final week, it was a 400, followed by 10 200s with 90 seconds of rest in-between.
“It’s not necessarily directly conducive to basketball training, because you don’t run 200 meters on a curve in a basketball game,” Williams told the Raleigh News & Observer. “But this was tough…. And it will be even better next year, because we’ll make it a little bit tougher, and they’ll be a little more experienced with it, and they’ll realize that they can do it. Hopefully, they’ll get that kind of attitude during the game.”
Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.