The NCAA finally changed some of the rules for college basketball players in the summer. The old rule forbade any organized practicing overseen by the coaching staff. Some individualized sessions were allowed, but not the whole team at once.
The rationale was that summer practicing under the coaches control would make college sports too much like a professional sports system, and all the other justifications. This led to fascinating work-arounds. Like the head coach have his office built with big windows to oversee the practice court. And if he happened to be in the office when the kids came for their own voluntary practices, well, then he could stand and watch them through the class. And, hey, that banging on the glass by the coach wasn’t to get their attention. He just heard something on the TV that caused him to react.
The NCAA finally loosened the rules and allows the coach two whole hours a week to work with the entire team.
Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News has long been a proponent of changing the rule, and he talked to various coaches about how they are using the practice time. Which also gives Pitt fans some injury updates.
How the coaches use the time available to them will be an individual choice. Some worry about burning out their players, although that fear seems misplaced given that most serious players were attending camps or hiring personal trainers to get quality offseason workouts.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon says he wouldn’t mind having his guys do a little 5-on-5 work, but he doesn’t have 10 healthy players in his sessions.
Center Dante Taylor turned his ankle on the first day and hasn’t been available since. Wing J.J. Moore has been out with a broken foot since an early April pickup game. Bothered by injury throughout the 2011-12 season, point guard Tray Woodall also is not participating.
Dixon admits he was one of those who thought, “Be careful — you might get what you wish for.” But getting his players up several times each week for 7:30 a.m. sessions has proven to be fruitful, even with so many essential players missing.
“Our feeling is they’re going to get their shooting on their own, get a lot of that done,” Dixon said. “So we’ve done a lot of 2-on-2, 3-on-3 stuff … We’re trying to improve on guarding the dribble, keeping people in front. That’s probably why we’ve done more live stuff, rather than dummy technique, one-on-0ne stuff.
“The ability to interact with our guys, hold them accountable, get them up in the summer — it’s good for everybody involved.”
Well, Moore and Woodall were known to be out all summer. Taylor is a concern. The conditioning issue aside, the are he still struggles to handle is footwork and positioning. A bad ankle means no chance to work on those.