One common theme emerged in Saturday’s Red White scrimmage for the WKU men’s basketball team: player conditioning. Throughout the scrimmage, there were many turnovers and fouls, which are all signs of fatigue right before the tipoff of the 2017 season.
Head coach Rick Stansbury was quick to address this issue after the scrimmage.
“You know I thought we were sluggish,” Stansbury said. “I didn’t think we got up and down the floor a lot. We’ve been working on changing some defenses. When you do that, it causes everyone to be a little sluggish.”
Even with the defensive pressure and change of scheme, the turnovers were far too common. In just 32 minutes, the Hilltoppers turned the ball over 10 times.
Josh Anderson, Jake Ohmer and Taveion Hollingsworth not only committed live-ball turnovers, but also threw the ball away and traveled. Marek Nelson and Dwight Coleby committed plenty of fouls down low. Stansbury was unimpressed with Coleby’s play, stating he didn’t think he was much a factor in Saturday’s scrimmage.
Stansbury also said he thought senior guard Darius Thompson lacked aggression and was too passive, but combination of learning new schemes and hard practices has worn down the Hilltoppers.
“We don’t get much rest in practice as you can see,” he said. “Those guys go every trip and every possession.”
Further complicating the situation is the fact that the Hilltoppers are undermanned. Junior forward Jared Savage, who both coaches and players regarded as one of the best players in practice, must sit out this year due to NCAA transfer rules. Junior guard Lamonte Bearden is currently out with an ankle injury, although Stansbury mentioned he was “close” to returning to the court.
Senior forward Justin Johnson certainly could tell that the lack of players helped wear down the team throughout the action.
“It got a little sluggish as we went on,” Johnson said. “Guys got a little bit tired. You could tell the fatigue was starting to set in. You’re kind of going to have that when you’re playing 5-on-5 no subs out there.”
Even with the shortage of players, there could be benefits to having the starters taking more reps than normal. Johnson is happy with the shape he’s in after gaining weight during his short tint with the football team, but sees the practices as opportunities to better his conditioning.
“I think I’m almost there,” he said. “I lost all my weight back. The thing now is to keep pushing everyday now. I’m going to try to get down and play a little lighter…I feel pretty confident with where I’m at now.”
The Hilltoppers are certainly getting a workout this preseason, and Stansbury wants to make practice harder than the games. The player shortage has brought about a change in practice strategy for the head coach
“Well, it’s good, and it’s made me have to adjust some,” he said. “I got to be smart from that standpoint with the numbers we have.”
Stansbury also reiterated he didn’t want his players to pick up the bad habit of pacing themselves on the court, because when game time comes, they must bring it for 40 minutes.
Darius Thompson sees the conditioning program as much needed for the team.
“Preseason conditioning was one of the hardest programs I’ve ever been apart of, but we need it for the season with the numbers we have.”
Reporter Alec Jessie can be reached at 502-648-7190 [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @Alec_Jessie.