Paranoia strikes deep

PARANOIA STRIKES DEEP – About a half hour into AU’s shootaround Saturday, a cute little Patriot League official with a blonde ponytail came walking over to where I sat in the first row of the bleachers and asked who I was.

No, she was not flirting. When I said I was a member of the media covering the tournament, she informed me that shootarounds are closed and I would have to leave.

Interestingly, it did not become a closed practice until they noticed me taking notes as AU walked through some stuff in preparation for Sunday’s game. Also interesting, the guy doing the Internet radio broadcasts of AU games was not asked to leave.

I pointed out the inconsistency to the league type person, pointing out that if one member of the media is not allowed, then none should be. But someone from AU, a humorless little punk with a gel-slicked hairdo (from the pictures in their media guide, I think it was Associate AD Ed McLaughlin), told me the radio guy was OK because he was not media, but part of their travel party.

Of course Friday night the dude was wearing a media credential and sitting on press row. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is not a chicken.

The league posted the shootaround schedules on its Web site, with no mention of them being closed. But that argument did no good with blondie, who actually tried to be nice even as I bordered on belligerent.

I considered the fact that maybe Jones is pissed about the Grateful Dead T-shirt picture.

According to AU SID Shaun May, this is not atypical of Jeff Jones. In the preseason, they held a closed scrimmage at another DC area school. The other coach, a former Maryland assistant, had invited someone to watch. Jones made the guy leave.

I am flattered that Jones thinks I know enough about the game to prepare some sort of scouting report that would benefit Bucknell. I can assure you there is nothing I am going to notice and mention here that Bucknell’s coaches have not figured out from watching hours of tape.

Truth be told, though, I was watching more for personal than professional reasons. Being a youth basketball coach, I like to watch college practices when I get a chance as a learning experience. It also helps my understanding of the game and gives me some insight that helps make for better game stories.

I had no intention of posting anything that I picked up from watching the workout, other than little tidbits like how assistant coach Greg Lyons swished a halfcourt shot without even warming up first before the Eagles began their workout. Lyons also went on to sink 6 of 7 from three-point range in one stretch.

Other stuff I would have noted were things like how Andre Ingram was not wearing the protective mask over his broken nose in the shootaround. While there was little danger of reinjury – they were not scrimmaging – you do wonder if it might help him to be more used to it by wearing it to shoot in practice.

I also would make note of the fact that AU, with tired legs after being extended to overtime, did not show up until 11:30 for their scheduled 11 a.m. workout. One Sojka Pavilion staffer said they heard a coach mention Friday night that they were not getting the players out of bed that early after the OT game.

That is significant, obviously, because Jones himself has mentioned down the stretch how tired Ingram’s legs, in particular, were. Ingram’s 911 total minutes this season (heading into Friday’s game, in which he played 41), are 10 more than Kevin Bettencourt, who has logged the most time for Bucknell. Bettencourt’s 901 minutes, it is worth noting, are spread over 28 games, two more than the 26 AU played in the regular season.

You cannot help but wonder if fatigue has been a factor in Ingram’s struggles at the foul line late in games.

Only one player for Bucknell, Charles Lee (31) played more than 25 minutes Friday night. Four of American’s five starters played over 32. That could be a factor if the game is close down the stretch. Bucknell goes 10 deep, has fresher legs and has been sleeping in their own beds. It would not be a surprise to see the Bison wear American down in the second half.

We had not planned on mentioning anything we saw during the shootaround. But given AU’s attitude, we feel free to share what little we learned. The first thing Jones emphasized was getting his post players involved after the screen for Ingram on the baseline. Jones wants them to flash about eight feet from the hoop in the lane, looking for the ball.

Once they catch it there, it is either turn and shoot, or kick it out. He does not want them to try to put it on the floor to power past Bucknell’s big men, who he emphasized are bigger and stronger in the post. He also pointed out that the way Bucknell’s guards like to double down, putting the ball on the floor would be problematic.

Jones emphasized the idea of moving the ball on the perimeter, rotating it and finding the open man against Bucknell’s matchup zone.

After he covered that, we were asked to leave.

With a swim meet next door, and an open concourse at the top of the stands, it would have been easy to watch from above. But like I said, I was no there to spy, so instead I headed into the media room and pounded out this rant to pass time until Bucknell’s 1 p.m. workout.

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