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2007 Training Camp Gallery | 2007 Media Day Gallery

Training Camp Wraps Up In Wilmington

-- Matt Rochinski, | 10:15p.m. 10/8/07

The Bobcats 2007 Training Camp Presented By Reeds Jewelers wrapped up in impressive fashion with an open scrimmage on Sunday in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Charlotte’s Black Team, consisting primarily of it’s starting five – Raymond Felton, Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor and Ryan Hollins – handled the White Team easily, 84-64.

Wallace led his squad with 19 points, followed by Okafor (14), Hollins (12), Felton (11) and Richardson (nine). Felton also tacked on 10 assists while turning the ball over just once in a solid performance at the point.

“I was happy with tonight’s performance,” Bobcats Head Coach Sam Vincent said. “I thought the starting unit really played well together. Our focus was seeing them push the ball in transition, and I thought they did a pretty good job of that. Raymond really did an excellent job of when the transition opportunities were not there to get it back, getting us under control, getting us into the offense and getting good shots, which I was happy with. And defensively, they really did a good job hawking the ball and playing tough in the lane. I thought for the most part, it was a good night.”

Rookie Jermareo Davidson was the only player on the White Team to score in double-digits, finishing with 14 points and six rebounds.

Here a few other interesting notes from Sunday’s scrimmage:

  • Watching Wallace, J-Rich and Felton get up and down the court is going to be great to watch for Bobcats fans and a nightmare for opposing defenses. With Felton bringing it up in transition and Wallace and Richardson on the wings, deciding who to commit to will be a quandary for defenders. Give any one of them the slightest opening and they are all quick enough to burn you going to the rack.
  • Playing Vincent’s run-and-gun style of offense is going to benefit Okafor as well. He doesn’t have to be a primary scoring option every time down the court, allowing him to commit much of his energy towards shutting things down on the defensive end. In the first half of the scrimmage, Okafor didn’t score a point and took just one shot. But defenses beware –start focusing on the Bobcats backcourt and Okafor can keep up with Charlotte’s speedsters and can burn you in transition too. He scored all 14 of his points in the third quarter on 4-5 shooting from the field and 6-7 shooting from the charity stripe.
  • It didn’t take the Bobcats starting five much time to start getting comfortable with each other. Vincent put Felton, Richardson, Wallace, Okafor and Hollins together for the first time in Wednesday’s evening practice and they lost their first scrimmage to the second unit, 19-17. From that point, the starters didn’t lose another scrimmage throughout camp, including Sunday night.
    “Overall, I thought we got a lot done that we wanted to accomplish,” Wallace said. “We came together good with the new acquisition of J-Rich and Ryan coming into the starting five.”

  • So what did the fans like the most at Sunday’s scrimmage. Here were the three loudest cheers that went up:
    1. Wondering how much Wilmington loves Bobcats Managing Member of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan? A few minutes before the scrimmage began, Bobcats Majority Owner Bob Johnson and Jordan made their way to their seats and received a standing ovation from the crowd on their way there.
    2. It didn’t take Wallace’s high-flying antics too long to get the crowd into the game. Felton found Wallace for an alley-oop from the right side that he slammed down with authority to give the Black Team a 9-6 lead, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
    3. Wallace was back at it midway through the second quarter – this time on the defensive end. Davidson got the ball in transition and appeared to be under the impression he was all alone as he went to the rim, but Wallace appeared from behind to reject Davidson’s shot and send the ball flying into the crowd.

  • Sunday’s scrimmage wasn’t just about the game. It was about the fans as well. Nobody seems to get that as much as Richardson and Wallace – two Bobcats fan favorites. After getting pulled midway through the fourth quarter, Wallace invited a young fan from the stands to come sit between himself and Richardson on the Bobcats bench. Both players talked at length with the fan and signed his Bobcats T-shirt while allowing him to sit between them the rest of the contest.
    “He was my Starburst guy. He was getting me Starburst during the game, so I had to show him some love after that,” Wallace said. “We just want our fans to come out and have fun. We play the game and we love to play, and we also understand that when we’re out here, we’re role models to kids. So we try to give back to the kids when we get a chance.”
  • With three years of camp at Wilmington, does Vincent expect the Bobcats to be back for a fourth?
    “As far as coming back in to Wilmington, that’s a decision I don’t make,” he laughed. “That’s for the higher ups to decide. If it were up to me we’d go to Hawaii and play the Golden State Warriors and the (Los Angeles) Lakers. Why not? Or go to Europe somewhere. Maybe Rome, I don’t know – that would be fun… but it was a good week here in Wilmington.”

  • That being said, a big thank you to the city of Wilmington, North Carolina. For the third-straight season, the city opened its doors to the Bobcats to host their weeklong training camp here, and the city could not have been more hospitable. They also showed up in force to create a game-type atmosphere for Sunday’s scrimmage. A special thanks to all those on the campus at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington for opening their doors to us and letting us call Trask Coliseum home for the week.

    Check Out The New Pics

    -- Matt Rochinski, | 11:16 p.m. 10/6/07

    I just finished watching he 1-3 Stanford Cardinal upset the No. 2 USC on the Trojans home field and can't help but think that somewhere Brevin Knight is smiling. So why am I blogging about this? Because while I've been watching college football tonight, I wanted our fans to know that I've just wrapped up about four hours in Photoshop adding 32 new pictures to our Training Camp Gallery. So go check it out. The gallery now stands at 62 pictures - some of which were taken by our professional photographer Kent Smith, and others taken by the professional-amateur photograper on staff at (aka me). Oh, and laugh at any USC fan you might know if you get the chance. Call those Cubs fans you know while you're at it and laugh at them too.

    Bobcats Catch A Break At Camp

    -- Matt Rochinski, | 6:21 p.m. 10/6/07

    Bobcats Head Coach Sam Vincent opted to go with just one practice on Saturday, leaving just one practice left in camp on Sunday morning before Sunday night’s scrimmage in Wilmington, North Carolina.

    “The guys have been working hard, and we’re really happy that we’ve reached this point with the conditioning level as high as it is now,” Vincent said. “We just wanted to make sure that we give their bodies a chance to heal a little bit before we push too much harder.”

    Vincent also gave the Bobcats a chance to let their hair down a bit on Friday night, taking the team to Ten Pin Alley for some bowling, a few games of pool and more.

    “Last night was great. The off-the-court team building things are something that are very important because it gets us off the main battle stage and gets us into an environment where guys can just relax, laugh and talk,” Vincent said. “You saw different guys talking to different guys who usually don’t talk on the court because they’re competing against each other. It was fun to get everybody bowling, playing pool or whatever they were doing. That’s something we’re going to try to do throughout the year.”

    Vincent also took the time to hit the lanes. So how did he bowl against his guys?

    “I was rolling strikes, man,” he laughed. “I don’t know what the cameraman was recording, but I was rolling strikes. I must have had 10 or 11 strikes. My game was hot last night.”

    However, the hottest Bobcats player on the lanes might have been veteran Derek Anderson.

    ”I had the high score of the evening at 184, so yeah, I can say I’m alright,” Anderson modestly admitted. “Sam caught on at the end of the night, but it is what it is – we all know who the best bowler was.”

    Maybe not everyone did. Never at a loss for words, Jared Dudley believed his game might have been the strongest – even if his scored didn’t concur.

    “It was good – every good team has good chemistry and good bonding. It’s something you need to do,” he said. “We got to bowl and interact with coaches, which you probably wouldn’t get a chance to do otherwise. You can see people’s personalities for the first time and see how they interact. A lot of these guys I might never go out with – it’s just the nature of the game. Let me tell you though, Jermareo (Davidson)’s bowling skills were terrible. This dude was terrible.

    “Aw no, you didn’t,” Davidson piped in when he heard Dudley bashing him. “I was out-bowling you all night.”

    “I was winning when I was leaving,” Dudley responded. “But we didn’t get to finish the game.”

    “Are you really going to lie to the fans? You were down by two,” Davidson laughed. “This is going live to the world and you’re going to do it like that?”

    “The first game I played, I was playing against a couple of the trainers, and I definitely won that game easily,” Dudley laughed. “Then it was time to take down this guy.”

    “I can’t believe you,” mumbled Davidson as he walked away in disgust.

    But it wasn’t all just bowling, some players opted to take their chance at pool, including Davidson, who did both, squaring off with assistant coach Jeff Capel at the felt table.

    “He tried to trick me and act like he couldn’t make any shots and then became real good at the end,” Davidson said. “He hustled me big time. I didn’t think he could play – I was laughing at him and everything, but he had a pretty good game.”

    Capel was also impressed with Davidson’s skills with a cue stick.

    “I thought the rookie handled himself very well,” he said. “I got a little winded at the end and he made a little comeback, but I was able to hold him off down the stretch.”

    “That was charity,” Davidson added. “He was giving me that, because he was pretty good.”

    Others, like Matt Carroll and Adam Morrison, opted to just get some food and watch the Yankees and Indians MLB playoff game.

    “To be honest, we were both rooting for the Indians – pulling for the underdog,” Carroll said. “The Yankees always win, so you have to share the love once in a while. It was crazy seeing all those little bugs on the field. We couldn’t believe it – it might have ruined my appetite a bit, but it was a lot of fun watching that game.”

    After the game, Carroll and Morrison hit the pool tables as well.

    “It was close,” Carroll laughed. “We’re both pretty bad, but I pulled the victory out. That’s not saying much with me and Adam though.”

    Reaction To The Loss Of Sean May For 2007-08

    -- Matt Rochinski, | 7:01p.m. 10/5/07

    The Bobcats entered Day 4 of training camp on Friday in Wilmington, North Carolina, and while the focus has consistently been on the action on the court, off the court the talk was about Friday evening’s release that Sean May will miss the 2007-08 season after he has microfracture surgery on his right knee. In tonight’s blog, I figured we would let the words of those in the Bobcats front office and players on the court speak for themselves. You can also read what May had to say in his Friday night conference call.

    General Manager Rod Higgins
    With Sean out, we have to now gather together and see what our next step will be. It’s a huge loss for us, but those things happen in professional sports. We have to make due and move forward.
    If you look at our big spots right now, we’re kind of thin up front. Our guys are obviously young up front with Emeka (Okafor), Jermareo (Davidson), Ryan (Hollins) and Walter (Herrmann) – you have a lot of young guys in those spots. It’s hard to win without veteran bigs in this league and we know that, so it’s something we’re going to have to address in the near future.
    (When asked about Marc Jackson…) Marc is a name we’ve talked about and a guy that has some experience. He is a free agent, and there are some free agents that are out there. I’m sure our conversations will dictate that we talk about a lot of guys, and Marc Jackson is one of those names.

    Head Coach Sam Vincent
    I’m disappointed – disappointed for Sean because he’s been working so hard over the summer and done a great job, and I’m disappointed for the team. But we’re still optimistic that he’ll be able to have the surgery, have a successful recovery and be able to come back at some point and help the team. We’ve already developed a fighting spirit in this team. These guys are working hard, and they’re going to continue to work hard. We feel bad for Sean, but the team is going to continue to move forward.
    It would help (to get a veteran big), but wanting a veteran big and having to deal with the salary cap and all the other issues involved with having to bring a player in is something that management will have to deal with. I spoke to (Managing Member of Basketball Operations) Michael (Jordan), (General Manager) Rod (Higgins) and (Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations) Bernie (Bickerstaff), and everybody is sensitive to the fact that we’re short in the frontcourt, and they’re going to be doing whatever they can to get us some relief, but that may take a little time.
    Gerald (Wallace) has been effective in that four spot (in the past), so there may be some times that we will use him there. It depends on who we’re playing and what is going on. I think Ryan has looked good so far, Jermareo has done a good job, and this is going to be a situation where some of our young guys are going to get more reps because we’ve got some guys out.

    Gerald Wallace
    This is a major blow to the team. He was a big asset to the team, and the things that he brought were irreplaceable. It’s going to be a major hurt for us, and other guys are now going to have to pick up the slack.
    I’d prefer not to go back to (the four spot) after two years down there, but for me it’s always been whatever I can do to help the team. If that means I have to go back to playing the four position, then that’s something I can do. I’m pretty sure Ryan and some of the other bigs are going to step in and make up for Sean’s loss. For me, my role is whatever role coaches ask me to play – I’m just going to go out and do my best at it.
    I think Jermareo will be all right. He’ll have his ups and downs and it might be a little rough for him at first, but I think with our help, he’ll be able to get through it very well.
    I don’t think we really need (another big man) right now, judging by what we have in camp. Our big guys are doing a really good job. We have a lot of young guys that will be able to step in, and with the way Sam wants to play with our up-and-down tempo, we’ll be alright with the big guys that we have right now.

    Raymond Felton
    I haven’t had the chance to talk to Sean yet, but I’m going to call him as soon as I get on the bus. The stuff that Sean and I talk about is kind of personal, but I never had any indication that he wasn’t going to be playing or that he was going to go through the surgery. As far as I knew, I thought he was going to be on board. I knew he was seeing some doctors, but I didn’t know this was going to happen. It’s a tough loss for us. We needed him.
    It’s very disruptive, but at the same time, we have to move forward. We have to work with what we’ve got right here. We have to keep it going. Everybody is playing hard and working hard, but we have to move on and wish Sean the best.

    Jordan Returns To Boys & Girls Club For Dedication

    -- Matt Rochinski, | 5:38 p.m. 10/5/07

    While hosting training camp in Wilmington, North Carolina, the Bobcats are not only focused on getting ready for the upcoming 2007-08 season – they also continue their efforts to make an impact in the community outside of Charlotte.

    Bobcats Managing Member of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan returned to his hometown to help dedicate a reading room at the Community Boys & Girls Club of Wilmington – a place where he played basketball as a youth growing up.

    “You don’t know how proud I am. It’s always good to come back home and see family and friends,” Jordan said. “I can’t even echo what (President & CEO of the Community Boys & Girls Club of Wilmington) Wayne Lofton and the Community Boys & Girls Club has done for me – not only in the years that I participated in sports, but all the years it gave me an outlet to come here, hang out, learn about being friends, meet new people and teach things to some of the other kids. I’m very happy the Bobcats considered the Boys & Girls Club here to make their reading room special.”

    Jordan cut the ribbon at the ceremony, along with Bobcats President and Chief Operating Officer Fred Whitfield and Boys & Girls Club of Wilmington representatives Felicia Powers and Cedric Dickerson.

    “It means a lot to us that Mike wanted to come back here,” Senior Unit Manager of Athletics Clifton Thomas, who also used to coach Jordan at the Boys & Girls Club, said. “When Mike first started, Mike wasn’t a great ballplayer, but he blossomed. That shows our kids that if you never quit on anything, there’s no telling what life holds for you. It says a lot for him to come back.”

    The dedication was part of the Bobcats community relations education initiative focused on literacy and is the seventh-such reading corner the organization has opened in North and South Carolina over the course of the past month.

    “Since our team was holding training camp out here in Wilmington, and Michael Jordan has such a history here, we wanted to come out and show the community that we support this area, as well as the Charlotte area,” Bobcats Community Programming Manager Kim Beal said. “There are a lot of kids who come here after school, and this is a great room for them to come and read, do their homework or do after-school programming activities.”

    In the Bobcats ongoing effort to supplement youth activities and encourage young people to develop a love of reading, the Boys & Girls Club got an improved Bobcats-themed room stocked with books and other educational materials.

    “For all these kids that are going to benefit from this,” Jordan said. “Hopefully we have another Michael Jordan here somewhere in terms of their success. Someone who just believes in their dreams and aspires to be the best person they can be. This is a good start, and I want to say thank to everybody.”

    Living The Life Of A Rookie At Camp

    -- Matt Rochinski, | 3:02p.m. 10/4/07

  • Jared Dudley has continued to impress throughout camp, and it is looking like he will provide a boost off the bench in many ways this season with his scoring, rebounding and defensive intensity. However, I’ve also come to the conclusion that I’ll love having Dudley around for his candor. When asked if he’s had to do any certain rookie duties so far in camp, Dudley had this hilarious response.

    “Yeah, I had to by 14 pizzas last night, and I think it took two hours to get here. The vets were mad and I messed up an order, but that’s the way it goes I guess. I think the bill was $175 and I got stuck with it,” he laughed. “What else did I have to do? (Earlier in the week) I had to get them chicken wings before we went on the plane and they wanted hot sauce too. I couldn’t sit up in front of the plane in first class either. I had to sit in the back with the trainer.

    “Overall it’s been good though. I haven’t had to go pick up any Krispy Kreme (donuts). Hopefully they don’t hear this so I don’t have to go get them any Krispy Kreme. I don’t know, I think I take more being a first round pick, because they ask me to do everything. I don’t see Jermareo (Davidson)… actually, Jermareo had to go to Walmart and pick up all the new release movies and NBA2K8. I think he paid like $180, so he had to pay a little more than me.”

    Added Davidson: “Gerald Wallace made me go get all the new releases at Walmart. It was a group of some of the worst movies ever. It was cartoons and everything. I don’t even think he’s going to watch them.”

    And Dudley still had more to add.

    “You would think when you’re on this team – (Gerald) Wallace just signed a new contract, Matt (Carroll) just signed a new contract and (Jeff) McInnis is wealthy – you would think they would start breaking a little bread and hooking me up,” he laughed. “But hopefully I’ve paid my dues.”

    Keep your fingers crossed that Dudley accepts an invitation to do a rookie blog on this season.

  • On Wednesday, Gerald Wallace let us know how excited he was for the Red Sox to open their playoff series against the Angels. Today, it’s Derek Anderson who will be rushing back to the hotel after Thursday’s evening session.

    Anderson, a former Kentucky Wildcat, can’t wait to watch No. 8 Kentucky take on No. 11 South Carolina on the gridiron, and he’ll have company. Bobcats Basketball Communications Manager Josh Rosen, a South Carolina alum, will be sitting right next to him.

    “It’s a big game coming up. We’re going to watch the game together, and he can’t leave either,” Anderson said. “We’re riding together to go watch it, so if he wants to leave in the fourth quarter because they’re getting beat so bad, he can’t go anywhere.”

    Rosen might not want to sit too close though. With kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m., Anderson won’t be showering after practice… well, sort of.

    “I’m bringing a change of clothes to practice and everything. I’ll throw some water on my body – I’m going to do that old-school shower from the yard,” Anderson laughed. “I’m going to watch this game. We’ve never been ranked 8th in history, so I’m going to watch this, because if we lose it’s going to be the last time we’re ranked this high for a while.”

  • Three days into training camp, Bobcats Head Coach Sam Vincent opted to shorten Thursday morning practice to give his players a bit of rest. It was a generous move by Vincent, but Bobcats players beware, it probably means Thursday’s evening workout will be intense.

    “Guys have been working extremely hard. The focus has been there and the energy has been there,” said Vincent. “We’re excited that we haven’t had any early injuries, and we want to make sure that we don’t, so it was important to me to get the guys in this morning and get a quick, snappy workout and get them out of here to get some rest, and then we’ll go hard tonight.”

    Okafor Hoping Less Means More

    -- Matt Rochinski, | 10:23 p.m. 10/3/07

    We got a surprise tonight, as Bobcats Head Coach Sam Vincent has agreed to allow us to keep coming to the night session of practice to see how things are going at Trask Coliseum. That being said, here are a few notes from Wednesday’s second half of practice.

  • Watching Emeka Okafor get up and down the court, it’s noticeable that he’s lost some weight heading into training camp – 10 pounds to be exact. However, he didn’t intentionally drop the pounds knowing Vincent would be installing a more up-tempo style of offense.

    “Losing the weight was my decision. I just feel like I played better when I was a little bit lighter,” he said. “It just so happens that dropping the weight will also help me with what we are doing now and how much we’re going to be pushing it up and down the court.”

    Another thing that is sure to help the Bobcats big man is that he is admittedly healthier than he has felt the last two seasons. Okafor played just 26 games in 2005-06 due to a lingering ankle injury, and he followed that up by appearing in 67 games in 2006-07 after missing 15 games with a left calf strain.

    “Last year I had a whole bunch of nagging (injury) stuff. I could function, but I was probably at 75 percent,” Okafor admitted. “Now I’m good to go. Nothing is bothering me and everything is pristine and fresh. It’s exciting.”

  • Earlier in the week, I spoke about how Gerald Wallace bulked up a bit in the offseason. Well, he wasn’t the only one. Adam Morrison has also added some muscle – something he was intent on doing after enduring the bumps and bruises of his first NBA season.

    Morrison looked great in Wednesday’s night session, knocking shots down from long range, hitting his mid-range jumper and driving the lane and converting in the paint. For the first time in a while, it looks as if he’s out there playing worry free, and his game is benefiting from it.

  • Mental note to rookie Jared Dudley – try not to make Gerald Wallace mad. In the final scrimmage on Wednesday, Dudley fought through a screen near the top of the key but lost his balance along the way. The back of Dudley’s head connected square on Wallace’s chin, lighting a fire under the Bobcats co-captain.

    Wallace’s green squad trailed 3-2 at the time, and he quickly took matters into his own hands from that point. G-Force went to work attacking the rim and scored six of the green’s next eight points as they pushed the lead to 10-3. The message was sent to the Bobcats rookie.

  • Mental not to the rest of the Bobcats – try not to make your new head coach mad. Vincent cut the third and final scrimmage of the night short with the green team up 12-3 with 3:31 remaining. Why? He was tired of hearing the Bobcats players complaining to the referees about what they felt were missed calls.

    “We’re not going to (complain to the refs) on the practice court, and we’re not going to do it on the game court,” Vincent said. “Leave it alone and go play harder… let us talk to the refs. You go play ball.”

    To drive his point home, everyone had an extra suicide to run before practice wrapped up. It’s clear that Vincent is making sure his players know he is in charge – something crucial for the new head coach to establish early in camp. It was the first of what will hopefully be many great moves by Vincent here in Wilmington and beyond.

    Big Men Looking To Impress

    -- Matt Rochinski, | 2:47 p.m. 10/3/07

    It’s Day 2 of training camp – usually the time when the adrenaline begins to wear off from the high of Media Day and the start of camp. The legs get heavier and breathing becomes a bit more difficult with each suicide run.

    But that wasn’t the case in Wilmington, North Carolina on Wednesday morning as the Bobcats wrapped up the first session in their second day of camp.

    “I was happy with the way the guys’ bodies responded,” Bobcats Head Coach Sam Vincent said. “We really pushed them hard doing a lot of conditioning stuff (Monday), but they got back and got some rest last night and came back strong today. That was real encouraging, because it meant our pre-conditioning stuff went well before camp started.”

    The Bobcats continue to impress their new coach with the work ethic that has been their calling card for the past three seasons, getting after it as hard in the final moments of practice as they do when practice begins.

    “You’re sore out there, but we’ve got a day behind us now and know what to expect so you can fight through it,” said Raymond Felton. “Yeah, we’re a little tired, but it’s good feeling. It’s great to be back preparing for the season.”

    Two Bobcats – Sean May and Primoz Brezec – are still a step behind in their preparation, as they have yet to report to camp, causing some concern from Vincent.

    “Right now I’m not looking at some of the big guys that I thought I’d be looking at early because we’re still waiting on information on Sean’s (right) knee, Primoz is still dealing with some family stuff and Othella (Harrington) just had surgery (on his left knee to clean up loose cartilage),” he said. “So my frontcourt is a little bit depleted until later, but the focus is still the same… Even though we’ve got some guys out, we’re trying to stay the course.”

    With May and Brezec sidelined and Harrington limited in his participation, the door is now open for youngsters such as second-year center Ryan Hollins, rookies Jared Dudley and Jermareo Davidson and training camp invitees Deji Akindele, Marcus Campbell and Jameel Watkins to step in and show what they can do with the first and second units.

    “I don’t feel intimidated, and I’m not going to step on any toes, but they brought me in to do a certain job, and I’m going to do that,” Dudley said. “I’ve played against these guys before we came to camp, and I was in (Las) Vegas working out with Kevin Garnett and Baron Davis this summer. When you see guys like that come into the gym and then you get here and you’re going against guys like Gerald (Wallace) or Jason (Richardson), I can’t be intimidated. I’m just going to come out here and give it my all.”

    Hollins knows getting these extra reps will be nothing but beneficial for him as camp progresses.

    “We’ve got a new coach and a new system, so we’re learning how he wants us to play, and this gives me the chance to be more in tune with what he is expecting” he said. “It makes me that much more invaluable when the other guys aren’t here, but I’m approaching it with the same attitude whether they are here or not here. I’m still going to work hard and get myself ready to play every second that I’m on the floor.”

    For Campbell, who was with the Bobcats in training camp in 2006 as well, he knows he has to make an impact in the Charlotte coaches’ eyes, no matter whom he’s matched up against.

    “I came in a lot better shape this time and lost 38 pounds this offseason by hitting the weight room hard,” he said. “I just really focused myself and am blessed with the opportunity to come back to training camp with Charlotte. If you’re not motivated to play, you’re not going to be a good basketball player regardless of the situation. You have to go out every day and leave it all on the court. If you do that, things will work themselves out.”

    Off the court, one of the Bobcats captains is also hoping things will work out for a certain team as the Major League Baseball playoffs begin.

    A life-long Red Sox fan, Wallace is already sporting his rose-colored glasses as he waits for Boston to take the field against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night.

    “It’s going to be a Red Sox sweep – no doubt. The Angels don’t have a chance,” Wallace laughed. “We struggled going into the postseason, so now we’ve got a lot to prove. We’re getting Manny (Ramirez) back – he’s healthy, so we’ll be straight.”

    With the evening session beginning at 5 p.m., Wallace – who is often the last Bobcats player off the court – will be looking to be on the first bus back as soon as practice comes to a close.

    “I’m going to head back to the hotel as soon as possible, because I’ve got to see it,” he said. “It’s Game 1, and I can’t miss too much of it. This is going to be a short series, and I want the Yankees next. We have to play and beat them because it would mean that much more. We’ll handle those guys too. I can’t wait.”

    An Inside Look At Tuesday Evening's Practice

    -- Matt Rochinski, | 8:31 p.m. 10/2/07

    I know we’re only one day into training camp, but I’d like to say a special thank you to Bobcats Head Coach Sam Vincent for opening up the balcony at Trask Coliseum for the final 40 minutes of Tuesday’s second session at the University of North Carolina- Wilmington. The evening session of training camp is usually closed to the media, but Vincent opted to allow some members of the media limited access to see how things are coming together as the team spent some time scrimmaging on Day 1.

    This gave and our fans an exclusive look behind the scenes less than 24 hours into camp. Charlotte still has a ways to go before tipping off against Milwaukee at 7 p.m. on November 2 at Charlotte Bobcats Arena, but there were certain things that were great to see as the guys got after it in some full-court action.

  • It’s been no secret that Vincent wants to get up and down the court this season, but make sure to pay attention to the action in the paint under the new regime. Much of the scrimmage was dedicated to attacking inside on offense and denying the post on the defensive end. With a completely healthy Emeka Okafor and a bulked up Gerald Wallace patrolling the paint, points might be hard to come by when Charlotte shows up on its opponent’s schedule this season.

  • Speaking of Wallace, it didn’t take G-Force long to get back into the swing of things. Moments into the scrimmage, Wallace was already attacking the rim with reckless abandon before hitting the ground hard while drawing a foul inside. To no one’s surprise, Wallace quickly bounced back up unfazed, and just a few seconds later he was diving into what would have been the stands while trying to corral a loose ball. Some habits are just hard to break.

  • Wallace also made the play of the night, swiping the ball from Jason Richardson at midcourt and heading down for a breakaway, two-handed jam with Richardson in hot pursuit. Wallace let J-Rich hear it all the way down the court, setting up what could be an entertaining, friendly rivalry between the two high fliers throughout camp. These guys will definitely each have their fair share of highlight-reel moments this season.

  • What will Richardson bring to the Bobcats this season? Let’s just say it was hard not go get chills as Richardson peeled off a screen the next trip down on the offensive end and buried a three-pointer from the left side with Wallace now giving chase. Richardson was brought in to give Charlotte the weapon they were often lacking in the fourth quarter last season. J-Rich will demand the ball late in contests, and if he can keep hitting shots like this, what used to be tough, close losses will quickly turn into impressive, last-second wins.

  • Don’t tell Jared Dudley and Jermareo Davidson they’re just rookies who should take a backseat in their first NBA training camp. Both first-year players were able to shake off their opening-day jitters and impressed with the intensity they showed on both ends of the court. Neither is afraid to bang inside with the big boys or get up and down the court in transition – two things that will quickly catch Vincent’s eye an earn J&J more minutes off the bench when it counts.

  • It was also good to see assistant coach Phil Ford pulling Raymond Felton aside to give him a few pointers on what he was seeing on the floor. Ford wasn’t the only one giving some one-on-one instruction either. Assistant coach Paul Mokeski also took time to pull Ryan Hollins aside and go through some of his moves in the post. Vincent has done a great job helping piece together his coaching staff, and this will certainly be beneficial to Charlotte’s young players as they take their games to the next level.

    Bobcats Getting Ready To Run

    -- Matt Rochinski, | 1:12 p.m. 10/2/07

    So what’s the first day of an NBA training camp like? According to Emeka Okafor, something like going back to class.

    “Last night was kind of like the night before that first day of school,” Okafor said with a grin after Tuesday’s morning practice. “The clothes were all laid out and you couldn’t sleep just because you were so excited to get things going. That’s how I felt.”

    But much like a third grader walking into his or her classroom and finding four story problems written on the chalkboard to solve, the opening day excitement quickly turned into the realization that it was time for the Bobcats to go to work as they took the court at the Trask Coliseum in Wilmington, NC.

    “I had a feeling coming in that these were going to be some tough practices with a lot of defensive slides and a lot of hard work,” Jason Richardson said after his first Bobcats Training Camp practice. “I think the guys quickly got the impression of what it’s going to take to get through this first week of camp.”

    New Head Coach Sam Vincent and his coaching staff held a meeting with the players on Monday night in which they informed them of what was expected of them in their first training camp together, and less than a half hour into the first practice, Gerald Wallace and crew had the point driven home by Vincent and the coaching staff.

    “In the first 30 minutes of practice, guys started to figure out there would be a big emphasis on conditioning in this camp,” Wallace said. “Coach (Vincent) wants an up-tempo offense and a pressure defense, so we are expected to be able to just run and run. I think everybody just wanted to get through it, because everybody came into the first day not knowing what to expect. It was kind of rough, but at the same time it was a learning process. Guys know what we can expect from Sam now. I think we got into a good groove midway through practice and ended things great.”

    By practice’s end, everyone who started camp was still standing – tired, but standing – and Vincent was impressed with what he had seen.

    “Day 1 was great. I was really happy with the energy, and the focus was very, very good,” he said. “We had a real, good solid first morning behind us. Guys were a little tired. A big part of our focus here early on is going to be conditioning – really trying to get the guys NBA ready. But for a first day, I really thought that a lot of the pre-training camp conditioning that we did paid off – nobody was bent over, nobody had to use the cans and everybody was still smiling at the end of practice, so that was a good sign.”

    The Bobcats won’t have much time to recover, as they’ll take the court again at 4 p.m. They’ll be without Sean May, who is still having his right knee examined, and Primoz Brezec, who has been excused from the start of camp for family issues.

    “Sean’s status is still in that evaluation period,” Vincent said. “I wish I had more to say about it, but until we get the information, there isn’t really much I can say about it because we don’t want to say something that it’s not.

    “We’re hoping to see Primoz sometime this week. From what I understand, he’s still wrapping up some family things that are going on with him, but we’re optimistic we’ll see him later in the week.”

    Media Day Exciting In So Many Ways

    -- Matt Rochinski, | 12:41 a.m. 10/2/07

    It’s 10:43 p.m. on Monday night and I am jacked up. No, it’s not because the NFL season is in full swing (although my Packers are 4-0) or because Colorado and San Diego are tied 6-6 heading into the 10th inning in what amounts to the first game of the MLB playoffs. It’s true that as a sports fan, this is an exciting time, but as a basketball fanatic, excitement and expectations are taken to the next level as the calendar turns to October.

    Today was Media Day at Charlotte Bobcats Arena, as well as at numerous other NBA arenas across the country, and I know I’m ready to get things underway in Year 4 here in Charlotte.

    As a Bobcats fan, it’s impossible not to be excited about this. Let me give you five reasons why:

    1. Gerald Wallace, quite possibly the most-coveted free agent this offseason, is back in Bobcats Blue and Orange.

    He came back to Charlotte because he truly believes that the core of Bobcats players that has been established through the first three seasons is now ready to take things to the next level – it was obvious as he spoke to the media on Monday.
    “We want to win the (Southeast) Division,” said Wallace when asked what the team’s goals were for the upcoming season. “We know we’re good enough to compete for that top spot. Orlando has made some key changes, and Miami still holds the top spot, but we know we can compete at that same level. If we can win the division, then we’re in the playoffs.”
    To no one’s surprise, Wallace has dedicated himself to improving this offseason. Although he’s still listed as 220 pounds on the Bobcats Training Camp roster, it’s evident he’s put on some more muscle in his upper body – something that can only help him as he bangs around in the paint and continues to attack the rim in 2007-08.

    2. Jason Richardson is on board and ready to get after it.

    Following the draft-day trade that brought Richardson, along with the rights to Jermareo Davidson, to the Bobcats on June 28, 2007, many members of the media (particularly the national media) were quick to jump on the idea that Richardson was upset about the trade. If Richardson’s interview with on August 7 didn’t convince you otherwise, his actions at Media Day solidified he feels comfortable in the Bobcats locker room. The six-year vet was constantly joking with his teammates and telling every media outlet that would listen to him (which was all of them) about the potential of his new squad. Richardson will be the perfect fit on the court, in the locker room and out in the community for the Bobcats.

    3. Raymond Felton is ready to take the reigns as a leader at the point.

    With two years in Charlotte behind him, 2007-08 could be Felton’s breakout season. Brevin Knight has moved to Los Angeles after signing with the Clippers in the offseason, and Felton is now indeed the man in charge in the Bobcats backcourt. He seems ecstatic to take on that role. Nobody looked more excited than the new Bobcats co-captain (along with Wallace) at Media Day, with a smile stretch from ear-to-ear as he bounced from station to station.
    “I’m acting like this because the season is finally here,” Felton said. “I can’t wait to get started. We’re going to do some great things.”
    Felton even took time to test Wallace’s resolve during an on-camera interview. Midway through Wallace’s interview with WBTV, Felton called out, “Hey, Gerald,” causing Wallace to stop mid-sentence. “Aw, never mind,” Felton laughed, and Wallace could only smile back knowing he’d been beat at his own game – something Felton might never have dared a year or two ago. If Felton has found his comfort zone, this will be bad news for Bobcats opponents.

    4. Adam Morrison has a new attitude (and a new look).

    Yes, he still has the long hair. Yes, he still has the moustache… however it’s become more of a goatee now. But one thing we saw a lot more of from Morrison on Media Day was a smile. He admits he let the pressure of being the third overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft get to him last season, particularly in the latter months, but the burden of being a rookie seems to have been lifted as he enters his sophomore season. If he can play worry free, as he said he expects to do, Bobcats fans can expect to see that smile stay on Morrison’s face.

    5. Wallace wasn’t the only Bobcats free agent to return in 2007-08. Matt Carroll is back in Charlotte as well.

    Carroll had a career year in 2006-07, averaging 12.1 points in 72 games for the Bobcats. A proven scorer who can start or come off the bench, he provides necessary depth in the backcourt. But Carroll isn’t just a scorer. He also provides all the intangibles that have helped forge the Bobcats identity. Training camp has yet to begin and Carroll already sports a shiner under his left eye from an elbow he caught while working out with some of his teammates recently.
    “I’m not really sure who gave it to me,” said Carroll. “It was just one of those times when I drove the lane and caught a stray elbow in there. It happens.”
    When you’re working as hard as Carroll, it’s bound to happen again, too.

    All this being said, I know there are more than five reasons to be excited about the upcoming season. Unfortunately, it’s 12:41 a.m. and I think the three energy drinks I had between Charlotte and Wilmington are finally starting to wear off. Make sure to check back here later today (Tuesday) as training camp opens up. I’ll be blogging throughout the week keeping you up to date on what’s going on as preparation for what is sure to be a memorable season continues.