It only took a little over a week for Coach Pitino to deliver Gopher fans another blog entry. He opened by talking about the staff's recent focus on individual players in advance of one on one player meetings:
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.
He also had this fun nugget:
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!
He then delivered an update on what the recent practice schedule has entailed and had some more thoughts (positive and negative) about players both individually and as a team. Negatives first:
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.
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.
That last comment was immediately followed with praise for the team's strength coach. Other positives?
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.
He then talked about facilities. The biggest takeaway is that it doesn't appear we'll hear him complain publicly about the U being behind. Instead:
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.
I'm sure he may feel differently when speaking in private and the recent facilities announcement may have given him room to breathe on this front when it comes to recruiting. Regardless, it's a different (and more enjoyable) approach for fans, even if many (including me) believe that he doesn't have what he needs. The positive and proactive approach has other benefits for the team however:
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.
All in all, another large and interesting blog post. Keep them coming Coach!