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To practice or not to practice?

By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
July 19, 2003
A hot topic during the Southeastern Conference men's basketball summer teleconference on Friday was the absence of a formal practice session out of season.
Unlike the institution of spring football, basketball coaching staffs have virtually no time to work with their players on the court before or after a season.
Missouri head basketball coach Quinn Snyder gave an insightful look at what limited practice time means to both players and coaches two years ago when he was a draft analysis on TNT.
After sitting like a bump on a log in a tailored suit for nearly two hours, the Tigers' coach explained why European players have gained an edge on college kids over the last few years.
College teams are allowed 20 hours a week to practice from the start of the season to the end of the season, and there is no deviation from that time stipend.
Coaches did gain an extra two hours a week for individual workouts, but that seems to be as far as the NCAA will go.
Snyder pointed out the wave of foreign players entering the NBA is in large part due to these players ability to be on the court with instruction more than the college players.
European players making the jump to the NBA are playing for professional teams overseas when they are high school and college age.
So while college prospects are limited to 20 hours on the practice floor, kids the same age and younger have unlimited time to hone their basketball skills.
Granted Snyder mainly talked about practice in terms of getting college players ready for the NBA that night two years ago, but in the grand scheme of things, the coach wanted more practice to improve his team.
This is not revolutionary thinking by any stretch of the imagination. If there is one truth in sport, it's that coaches love practice.
But the question remains: Is an official offseason instructional session a good idea of basketball?
But when would this out of season practice session take place?
College basketball is in an interesting situation because of the breakdown of the season.
Teams hit the court for practice in mid-October, and half of the season is played at the end of the fall semester.
The regular season wraps up at the start of the spring semester, and depending on how far a squad goes in either the NCAA Tournament or the NIT, the basketball year can go all the way into April.
Some coaches will say the nearly six-month season give players and staffs more than enough time together.
During the season, teams will have approximately 400 hours of practice, not including games and foreign tours that have become a way for teams to gain extra practice time and game experience.
Alabama coach Mark Gottfried doesn't think basketball needs a spring practice, but he does see some problems in the way the system is currently set up for coaches and players relations in the offseason.
There is the concern of
academics.
Because of the split-semester set up of basketball, a player's school schedule looks much different than a non-athlete's schedule.
The summer seems to be the best time to hold these sessions.
With so many players on campus, either for academic purposes or to work out alone in the gym, it appears to be the perfect fit.
There doesn't appear to be a big push to set up any kid of offseason practice system, but it may be time.
Everyone seems to like to talk about the decline of play on the floor, in which today's young players just want to run and dunk and are not learning the game.
A little more time to coach in college may be the first step in reversing this trend.

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