By Rich Ruben
The Trojans are getting ready to play their second true road game of the year. They have an early practice on Thursday and will leave in the afternoon for Fort Worth. Lots of info from practice:
- Nick Rakocevic and roommate Jonah Mathews were at the film session, but did not practice. They both are suffering from colds or the flu, but are expected to make the trip.
- Chuck O’Bannon watched practice with a large cast on his left hand. He is out for several weeks.
- TCU is third in the country in percentage of points coming from threes. Much of the practice was devoted to how they want to play half court defense to limit three point attempts. The Horned Frogs often play with four big guards between 6’3” and 6’6” and one big man, 6’11” Kevin Samuels, who is making almost 3/4 of his shots from the field. The Trojans were also working specifically on the defense they want to play against TCU.
- Assistant Coach Chris Capko led some of the half court defense work; he played as the point guard for the offense. He was very vocal, and at one point dove after a loose ball. His passion rubbed off on the players, and they were going at it hard and physically.
- The game on Friday will be the first event in the new Dickies Arena in Fort Worth. This is a civic arena where TCU will play occasionally. The Frogs on campus facility seats only 6800.
- Elijah Weaver wrote “so much fun” on one of his shoes. Forgot to ask him what it means.
- Everyone I spoke to said that they need to force teams away from three point shots. This is clearly a very big focus.
- The staff believes that the 2020 recruiting class is very important for a number of reasons, including that the 2021 high school class in Southern California is the weakest in a number of years.
- Before practice Elijah and and Quinton Adlesh were practicing threes on either end of the court. I watched Elijah make a high percentage of threes from the corner and elbow. He has a quick, fluid release.
- I spoke briefly with red shirt Noah Bauman. He does not travel with the team, and spent Thanksgiving at home in Arizona. It is clearly hard for him to sit out this season.
- Nick and Jonah are moving up in several career lists at SC. Nick has scored two more career points than Jonah at this point, and they currently rank 34th and 36th on the career scoring list. Both will move up a number of places by the end of the season. Nick is 12th on the career rebounding list, 25 rebounds below tenth place. And Jonah is no. 6 on the career made three point basket list, and will likely wind up in the top 4 or higher.
- I spoke briefly with Assistant Coach Eric Mobley. Like everyone, he stressed the need to limit three point attempts on defense. He also hopes that the Trojans’ solved their own perimeter shooting issues in the Harvard game.
- There were more media present after practice for interviews than any other practice I have attended. Don’t know why.
Interview with Andy Enfield
- Andy stressed that they need to limit three point attempts. For the most part he believes they have defended the three well, but teams are shooting too many.
- He thought they played their best overall game against Harvard.
- They didn’t adjust their perimeter defense at halftime against Harvard. The coaches stressed switching on screens with more physicality and they played harder. They held Harvard’s top scorer scoreless in the second half.
- He is generally happy with where the team is at this point in the season. They need to make more shots from outside, and if they had, they likely would have won the Temple game.
- The staff began recruiting Big O as a high school freshman, and were impressed then by his athleticism, defense and energy. He never took a play off. Since then, O’s offense has advanced each year. O has a quick inside spin move, but Andy stressed he must recognize when a double team is there and pass the ball out if he can’t get an open shot.
Interview with Quinton Adlesh
- I spoke with Q after his shooting session. He thought SC played its best defense of the season in the second half against Harvard.
- He made 4 threes in the last game, and thinks this will help him out of his shooting slump.
Interview With Elijah Weaver
- He is confident that the scoring from the guards will come. He has the best shooting percentage from the field by any of the guards, but has confidence in the group. The seniors have been high percentage shooters over their careers.
- He also said that the Trojans didn’t change their defense at the half against Harvard. The coaches stressed the need to play harder and to work their switches on outside screens and eliminate all open threes. They responded and played with much more energy in the second half.
Interview With Isaiah Mobley
- Isaiah can’t remember ever experiencing a loss like the Marquette game, or having an opposing player have a game like Markus Howard with his 51 points.
- He has adjusted to the rotation the coaches are using for the three bigs, with two of them playing almost all of the time. He anticipates that they may occasionally go back to the lineup they used at the beginning of the season when all three bigs started, depending on who they are playing and the opponent’s lineup.
- Isaiah feels he is adjusting to the physicality of the college game, and believes he will have a breakout game soon. He is getting better at guarding players on the perimeter, which he had rarely done before.
- He was asked about his friendship with O. They became good friends in the 9th grade, though knew each other before. O’s best qualities are his loyalty and that he is a great person and teammate.
- O works hard in practice, and it has helped Isaiah to go against O’s “big body “every day in practice, but Isaiah admitted it takes a toll.
- O always wanted to come to SC. They had talked about playing together in college, and after Isaiah’s dad was hired by Andy, it all worked out for both players.