Good afternoon, Gopher fans!
Today as summer school winds down, we turn our focus on individual player meetings with each of our student-athletes. My plan is to review their academics and give them feedback on their basketball progress and what they need to work on this fall.
Coach Pitino gives Maverick Ahanmisi straight "As" after the team's summer workouts.
Our staff met early this morning and gave each guy a letter grade in four categories. They were broken down into strength and conditioning, basketball, academics and attitude. Maverick Ahanmisi was the only guy who got A's all across the board. He got an A- in leadership only because we want him to be more vocal. Joey King also got the perfect score but received a B- in his attitude. He got the grade not because he has a poor attitude, but more because he needs to find a way to channel his emotions and energy a little better.
Many of our guys will go home for a few weeks before we start up school at the beginning of September. We plan to have all of our guys back in time to support our football team on August 29. I know Coach Kill and his staff will have their team ready to go!
The last two days we did two one-hour practices. The first 20 minutes consisted of skill work, and the last 40 minutes were controlled scrimmages. A major weakness of our team right now is our inability to communicate. Certainly this is understandable with a new coaching staff, but it is something we will focus on when they return. It is impossible to get to where we all want to go without good communication.
Yesterday was a good day if your last name was Hollins. I challenged both Andre and Austin to play like two of the most feared guards in the Big Ten, and they answered the call. The summer allowed our players to improve their fundamentals and implement our fast-paced offense. We still haven't put in our press because we simply didn't have enough time or enough subs to go 5-on-5 for a long time.
The level of conditioning the players need and the foundation for how we want to play was laid this summer, but we all understand we have a long way to go. Every member of our staff is extremely valuable. No person has shown that more than our strength coach, Shaun Brown. He helped change a lot of our players' bodies as well as their diets all in a short amount of time. The intensity and commitment will certainly be turned up even more when they return.
Andre Hollins will be relied upon heavily to provide veteran leadership this season, says Coach Pitino.
There has been a lot of talk about facilities and how to improve in these areas. I truly believe we have enough right now to compete at the highest level. Our philosophy is to always talk about what we do have, not what we don't have. We have an extremely passionate fan base, an outstanding university, a marquee basketball conference, a tremendous home court advantage and one of the most desirable cities to live in the country. I have all the faith in the world in our athletic director, Norwood Teague, and his staff to continue to improve our athletic department. We are absolutely headed in the right direction.
In the meantime, our goal as a staff is to make the best of the situation at hand right now. When I first took the job, I didn't like how spread out our players' days were around campus. We practiced, lifted and studied in different buildings. We knew that we had to make a change to make it easier on our players. With the current changes we are making we feel we have done that. We are excited to say that a dividing wall has been put up in the Bierman Athletic Building. By doing this we have essentially created a practice gym for our guys. Our players can now practice, lift and get academic support under one roof.
We plan to practice often and do individual instruction on the Bierman practice court. We are also putting brand new state-of-the-art strength and conditioning equipment in the upstairs weight room at Bierman. This fall, a typical day for our players will be individuals and weights in the morning, then study hall in our academic center -- all at Bierman. Then they head to class and practice later in the afternoon at Williams Arena.
Many coaches take a week or two in August to take a vacation somewhere before school starts back up. My family has chosen to stay in Minnesota this year. We decided to do this because I don't think there are many better places to be than Minnesota in the summer time! Our staff will get together over the next week and continue to game plan in recruiting for potential visits as well as solidifying our recruiting schedule in September.