March 20, 2008

We Are Here Now

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The Red have played games in some of college basketball’s biggest gyms this year. From the Carrier Dome, to the Cameron Indoor Stadium to the The Palestra at Penn. But none of those can stand to the experience of finally stepping onto the floor of the Honda Center. At 12:45 p.m. Pacific, the Red got its first chance to finally step onto the court that they hope to upset the Stanford Cardinal on in a practice open to the public.

With cheerleaders, the band, alums and administrators watching, the team conducted a series of light drills. As The Red players were generally upbeat, head coach Steve Donahue was all business. With players gong through your basic basketball drills, Donahue viewed attentively … arms crossed, legs spread, no smiles.

With thoughts of the 7-0 foot Lopez Twins, I was happy to look at our own 7-0 footer, junior Jeff Foote. Throughout the practice, I felt encouraged every time I saw him dunk the ball. In fact, following one of his slams, his teammates encouraged him.
“Yeahhhh,” said sophomore Louis Dale.
“Yeah Foote,” said senior Khaliq Gant.

More encouragement … I look to the left side of the court and Ryan Wittman nails a 3-pointer from the corner. I turn to look to the other side of the court, Adam Gore nails a 3-pointer from the same spot. Back-to-back 3s huh? That wouldn’t hurt tomorrow.

Side note: After watching today’s practice, I want to see Dre (sophomore Andre Wilkins) get a dunk tomorrow.

20:00 minutes left in practice and Donahue is not playing around. “Go to the elbow! Jump right off that curl!”

It was much more of the same until the end of the practice. Unlike Kentucky, (who practiced right before the Red and practiced All-Star Game-type dunks) the team launched 3s, many finding the bottom of the net. For a Red fan, it was a good sight to see.

After the practice, The Ithaca Journal’s Brian Delaney asked junior Jason Battle about the rims, “They feel better than Newman,” Battle responded. Let’s hope they have even better luck.