Training Camp Thoughts Part II


There’s no such thing as a wasted drill on Vinny Del Negro’s watch.


There’s no such thing as a wasted drill on Vinny Del Negro’s watch. One of the recurring themes of training camp thus far is Del Negro’s insistence on having his team play the right way. If a drill is jogged through or taken for granted, he hasn’t been shy about letting his guys know that’s unacceptable, often in creative language. With roster spots on the line, there should be no such thing as going through the motions, and there hasn’t been.

While Del Negro runs a hard practice, particularly when you consider that the team is going through two-a-day sessions, the concern hasn’t been how the bodies will hold up. It’s their minds that Del Negro and company want to keep fresh.

Maybe that’s the reason why the slogan “Energy. Focus. No Excuses.” is freshly painted in giant letters on the far end of the court the Clippers practice on.

“I feel like with this group having energy every day in your job, how you approach your job, is very important,” Del Negro said. “With young players it’s keeping the confidence up and the energy up and having a focus on how you’re going to do your job everyday and how you’re going to improve.”

“We have talented players. I just feel like I don’t need any excuses. You have a problem go to someone who can solve it. Otherwise, get focused on what you can do and how you can help the team.”

Del Negro may be relatively new to the organization, but he seems to have a firm grip on what’s plagued talented Clippers’ teams in the past. Too often those teams collectively carried a fragile mental state that could be shattered once a few injuries rolled in. No team ever stays completely healthy. No team is distraction free. But there is no “what if” championship in professional sports either.

“It’s such a long season, there is so much adversity you have to deal with,” Del Negro said. “But successful organizations build a culture where there aren’t any excuses, you’re judged on wins and losses, and we have to do a good job everyday to improve to give us the best possible chance to win basketball games.” No culture change can happen overnight. But by focusing on the mental aspects of the game; inspiring confidence, rewarding effort first and foremost, and not putting up with any excuses, the Clippers can turn the page a heck of a whole lot faster.

Play of the Day

The best word to describe Division II star Stephen Dennis is “smooth.” Going up against another small school guy in Marqus Blakely, Dennis put together a string of moves that looked way too easy. Starting with the ball from the right wing, Dennis went right and crossed over to his left hand, threatening to get in the paint. When Blakely shifted his body weight to get his shoulders square and in front of Dennis, Kutztown’s finest turned on the spin cycle and finished all in one motion with an easy right hand layup. Dennis may be a prospect, but that was a pro move.

Notes

  • The battle for the last few roster spots is heating up. The Clippers could use some extra size behind Chris Kaman and DeAndre Jordan, but there are some interesting guards stating their case as well. After today’s practice, Del Negro was particularly complementary of Jon Scheyer, a potential combo guard out of Duke: “Scheyer just knows how to play,” Del Negro said. “That’s his big basketball skill -- he has a nice feel for the game. He’s going to work hard so there’s not much maintenance with him. You know what he’s going to do. His effort has been tremendous.”

  • Congratulations are in order to Randy Foye and his family. The Foye household welcomed a new member yesterday, as Foye’s wife gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Get that young lady some Clippers gear, stat! Check out video of him speaking with Clippers.com after practice.

  • Towards the end of practice, the team worked on shooting free throws in pressure situations. How can you simulate game pressure in a practice session? By providing the threat of suicides for every miss. Miss one, and the entire team runs one set of lines. Miss them both, and the team runs double. When Chris Kaman stepped to the line and knocked down the last two free throws of the day, Eric Gordon made sure to give him an emphatic flying chest bump, and DeAndre Jordan followed it up with a big bear hug. Unity through misery is overrated anyway. Stay tuned to Clippers.com this week for more daily coverage of training camp.

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