Missouri men's basketball opens practice

Saturday, October 16, 2010 | 12:14 a.m. CDT; updated 12:23 a.m. CDT, Saturday, October 16, 2010
Kadeem Green, Ricardo Ratcliffe and Kim English fight for the ball during the first MU basketball practice Friday

It is two hours into the first practice of the Missouri men's basketball season. 13 sweat-soaked players are catching their breath. Coach Mike Anderson asks for three minutes to be placed on the scoreboard suspended above the court.

"Now we're gonna work," Anderson says. 


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From the start of practice, the players have navigated a series of meticulously planned drills. Every activity is mapped out precisely, scheduled minute-by-minute on a color-coded itinerary.

At 5:23 p.m., it was time for the three-man weave. The drill is a staple of Missouri's practices, and incorporates weighted and oversized balls to produce faster, crisper passes.

"You have to have strong hands, strong wrists," freshman guard Ricky Kreklow said. "You can't really catch the ball with your body or it's gonna fall right through."

Every drill has a purpose.

"The three-man weave gets our passing down, our running, our flow," junior guard Kim English said.  "When we start playing, we implement all those things into our scrimmaging."

The scrimmaging is when everything comes together. The structure of the practice relaxes, and the players try to fight through fatigue in a game setting.

"They like the scrimmaging part of it, but it's a two-fold deal. I'm trying to also see what they do when they get tired, because that takes place in games," Anderson said. 

Anderson says scrimmaging at the end of practice is all about recovery. The shorter the recovery time, the sooner players can get back into the flow of the game. 

"It's a skill you have to acquire, thinking when you're tired," Kreklow said. 

If junior guard Marcus Denmon was tired at the end of practice, it didn't show. He put his mark on the end of the scrimmages with a thunderous dunk over Kreklow as the last game expired. 

The Tigers will begin two-a-day practices Saturday and continue them throughout next week.




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