Nike Jordan All-America Classic: Friday Practice

Nike Jordan All-America Classic: Friday Practice
Apr 21, 2007, 01:59 am
Today the Jordan All-American teams played an interesting inter-squad scrimmage with a very fast pace and few stoppages in play. The teams played two 20-minute halves, separated only by a 5-minute halftime intermission, and with no timeouts during the halves. On top of that, the only foul shots that were awarded were on and-1 opportunities, so this was mostly non-stop action up and down the court. There was a lot of transition play in the scrimmage, and defense wasn’t at a premium, so for most players there wasn’t much new to learn there, though a few managed to stand out. The scrimmage was actually tied at 94 at the end of regulation, courtesy of a Durrell Summers three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining, but the teams decided not to play an overtime, ending it as a tie. Below is a recap of some of the players who managed to stand out.

In attendance to take in the action, among fans and the media, were New Orleans Hornets star point guard Chris Paul and former NBA player John Lucas Jr.

Yellow Team

Corey Fisher, 6’0, PG, Villanova:
This was another pretty solid showing for Corey Fisher, finding a nice balance between his passing and scoring, doing a good job manning the floor general role for his team. He racked up his assists in many ways, throwing alley-oops in transition, playing the pick-and-roll, drive-and-dishing, and just making passes in the half-court. One especially impressive pass occurred when he had the ball on the wing and threw a hard chest pass to the low block on the opposite side of the painted area, doing so with nice precision.

In terms of scoring the ball, Fisher hit a long fade-away jumper just inside three-point range, hit a spot-up three pointer, and showed off some nice craftiness taking the ball to the hoop. On one play he changed speeds at the top of the key to get his man off balance before taking it to the hole and laying it up lefty off the glass. On another play he drove right and crossed the ball over to his left, drawing contact and the foul on the shot attempt. Fisher also had a very nice play on defense where he anticipated a pass going to his man and reached out into the passing lane, stealing the ball and taking it the length of the court for a lay-up.

Derrick Rose, 6’3, PG, Memphis:
Derrick Rose had yet another overall quiet game, making a few spectacular plays, but for the most part not standing out, especially while playing off the ball. With two other point guards on his team, Rose spent about half of this game off the ball, where he isn’t able to contribute much in this setting, having an awkward jump shot with a slow release. He missed his only shot attempt on the game, a three-pointer.

When he had the ball and was able to make plays, Rose showed why he’s such a highly touted point guard prospect, dishing out some beautiful assists, including the highlight play of the game in which he faked passing the ball behind his back in transition, only to bring it back around and dish it off to his cutting teammate for the assist, getting a nice rise out of the crowd. Another of Rose’s nice passes was a precision chest pass from the top of the key, through the defense, to a teammate cutting on the baseline, leading him perfectly to the hoop. Rose didn’t have many opportunities to make standout plays like these ones, but when he did, he made them count. Hopefully he’ll get enough opportunities center stage at Madison Square Garden tomorrow night, because it’d be a shame to see an All-Star game without his passing abilities highlighted.

Kyle Singler, 6’8, SF, Duke:
Singler had a really strong performance here, showing off his smart and crafty game in a variety of ways. Singler hit two spot-up 12-foot jumpers in the game, using glass on one of them, but also missing on two attempts from the same range. He also was able to score at the rim, making a nice up-and-under lay-up driving left in which he drew the and-1 and using a similar move later in the game to draw the foul but not convert the basket. He also had a nice post move on one occasion where he up-faked his man and went under the hoop to reverse the ball off the glass. He also finished on a few lay-ups in the halfcourt and transition. Singler exhibits excellent footwork on his drives, in the post, and with his mid-range game, often getting himself out of traps with ease. Singler also had an impressive block on the defensive end in transition, where he blocked the 7’0 Kosta Koufos going for a lay-up.

Blake Griffin, 6’9, PF/C, Oklahoma:
Griffin had a strong game here, making his presence known on the defensive end with some weakside shot blocks and showing off his unorthodox post game on the offensive end. Griffin has an Antawn Jamison-like repertoire in the post, not to compare him with the Washington Wizards combo forward, but just to give you an idea of the style of post game he plays. He uses his body to get position down low, but rather than going strong into the hoop to finish, he relies on some interesting scoop shots, runners, and reverse lay-ups, also using the glass to his advantage when necessary. We saw a lot more of this in yesterday’s practice, but here he had some nice scoop lay-ups and reverses, finishing on a few occasions around the rim. Griffin tried his luck from the outside in this game as well, though he air-balled his long three-point attempt pretty severely. On the defensive end, Griffin had some very nice shot blocks in the halfcourt transition, showing good weakside awareness and timing with his blocking. He even blocked the 7’0 Kosta Koufos in transition on one occasion, doing so fairly easily.

The Rest:
Jai Lucas had an on-and-off game for his team, dishing out some nice passes on drives-and-dishes and pick-and-rolls in the first half, while also scoring on some nice floaters in the lane and making good use of his crossover move. But in the second half, Lucas tried a few pull-up jumpers missing from mid and long range.

Eric Gordon didn’t stand out much in this game, missing on all of his outside shot attempts, being blocked on one three-point attempt and air-balling another, though he did a good job attacking the rim, showing off his nice body control while drawing fouls and still managing to convert on his lay-ups.

Chris Wright, the 6’7 one heading to Dayton, pretty much only did what he does best, using his explosive athleticism to finish in transition, doing so more than a handful of times on an assortment of jams and lay-ups, including one alley-oop catch. He also hit a fade-away 10-foot jumper from a halfcourt set and got a putback tip-in as well.

Blue Team

Nick Calathes, 6’5, PG/SG/SF, Florida:
Nick Calathes was definitely the best player on his team today, doing a bit of everything to lead his team to victory, including playing a few possessions at the point. He missed all three of his three-point attempts in the game, but hit from mid-range and drew some fouls going to the basket. Calathes looked his best in transition, where he dished out multiple nice assists, including a behind-the-back pass to his future Florida teammate, Chandler Parsons. Calathes also had another nice hook-up with Parsons, throwing an inbound assist to a cutting Parsons, who scored the ball at the rim. In the half-court, Calathes made a nice behind-his-head drop-off on a right-handed drive, and threw a nice, perfectly placed bounce pass to the low post from the top of the key.

Kosta Koufos, 7’0, C, Ohio State:
Kosta Koufos had a really nice game overall, showing off his inside-out offensive repertoire once again. Koufos started off the game strong, scoring on an easy lay-up in the post when he got good position, making a transition block, and hitting two spot-up three-pointers with ease. He missed his next three-pointer, but came back and made a nice turnaround jumper off the glass from five feet out, drawing the foul on the shot as well. Next he got another easy score under the hoop over the vastly smaller competition, and then put up a nice left-handed mini-hook on his next possession. After that, he got a few put-backs around the basket, but had some troubles when trying to go up with the ball in the post, getting blocked by the 6’8 Kyle Singler on one occasion and the 6’9 Blake Griffin on another. Koufos seemed to think he could just go straight up with his lay-ups around the basket against smaller competition at times, but he’s going to need to work in some fakes and misdirection to consistently score around the rim at the next level.

Jerryd Bayless, 6’3, PG/SG, Arizona:
This was a disappointing game for Jerryd Bayless, showing us how streaky his scoring can be, especially following his impressive performance in yesterday’s practice. Bayless did manage to have a few nice contributions for his team in the game, hitting a spot-up three-pointer, making two transition jams in which he showed off his explosive leaping ability and showing off good body control on twoup-and-under lay-ups in which he elevated high on and drew contract for the and-1 opportunities. He also hit a spot-up three-pointer and made a nice assist in transition for a spot-up outside shot.

For the most part, though, Bayless was taking ill-advised shots and dribbling into ill-advised areas, missing shots and turning the ball over. He caught the ball at the top of the key on many opportunities, and tried to get to fancy with the ball, using crossovers and spin moves that weren’t very tight, rather than trying simpler approaches such as adjusting his speed and changing directions to get his man off balance, which would have given him the first step to get into the lane where he can put up a floater with either hand, something he never tried to do in this scrimmage. Bayless missed on some pull-up jumpers in the game as well, including a spinning 15-footer that was blocked and a pull-up shot from behind the three-point line. Bayless is going to need to become more efficient with his shot selection and dribble-drive selection, though that’s something that Lute Olson should help him with next year at Arizona, having molded plenty of combo guards during his tenure there.

The Rest:
Chandler Parsons had a pretty strong showing, hitting some spot-up three pointers and finishing well in transition, also making a steal on the defensive end, dribbling the ball up the court, and dishing off an assist to future teammate Nick Calathes on one occasion.

Donte Greene didn’t have one of his best games, just going through the motions a lot of the time and not really showing off how effective he can be hitting outside jumpers. He took only two three-pointers in the game, hitting one smoothly and missing the other, which was well beyond NBA range. He had some putbacks around the rim and finishes in transition, but for the most part didn’t have a great impact on the game.

Patrick Patterson did his share of bruising around the rim, owning the boards on both ends of the court and getting a few putbacks on both slams and touch lay-ups, though he wasn’t really featured in the game, getting less than a handful of post-up attempts. He had one really nice post move in which he went into his man strong and then faded away after the contact, scoring off the glass and drawing the foul, but he traveled trying to back his man down on another attempt down low.

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