From watching and listening to the coach and some of the players at the Tip Off Dinner, to reports from Halloween Hoop-La, this
team seems more focussed.
Lets look at Hoop-La first.
The Cats held an intersquad scrimmage at the start of the event, which followed a 2 hour practice. Last year there were fashion shows, ball spinning, pie eating and even some French Rap [from the now departed T.J. Parker].
This year, Medill Alum Michael Wilbon fired up the crowd, and women's coach Beth Combs promised a new attitude for her team, including
protecting the home court, something the men have taken to heart lately.
Reports are that the team was "cool and confident," similar to the attitude they had at the Fast Break Tip-Off.
This team is more mature and they know it. they kid with each other about being "old men." Bill Carmody has laid any success in 2005-06 on
the Seniors and they know it.
Tim Doyle dropped 15+ pounds to help improve his speed and jumping. Bernard Cote` is confident. Evan Seacat seems to be enjoying his senior
year. I did see Michael Jenkins practicing with as much fire the other day as the end of last year.
One big key to this year will be the play of Mohamed Hachad who is just about finished with Ramadan. He's keeping this Muslim holy celebration, but he's not allowing himself to become drained. His month of fasting ends tonight, on the evening of November 1st.
But even more, Vedran Vukusic seems more at ease as an NU player, stepping out from the off court shadow of Davor and Ivan. He's had to become the front man for the team and he's acting the part.
Another reported change is in Mike Thompson, who never seemed to be on track last year. We've heard reports that he's gone way out of his way
to both improve his "big man" game, and learn the Princeton/NU offense too.
Even the freshmen, Craig Moore and Jean-Marc Melchior seem to act more like upper classmen, not first year players. Of course Melchior is
considerably older than most freshmen and that helps, but there just seems to be a little more confidence around Welsh-Ryan right now.
If the Basketball Team has a goals poster on the wall somewhere like the Football Team's, you get the feeling that right before "Defend our Home court" and "Win the Big 10," there is "Get to the NCAA Tournament."
If there isn't, there should be...
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