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2013 Training Camp - Day 1

Watch highlights and get Pete's Perspective on Day 1 of Training Camp.


Pete's Perspective

Nashville, TN

Usually when a team changes coaches, that transition is the biggest story of training camp.

Not so for the Memphis Grizzlies, now under the stewardship of Dave Joerger.

“We’ve been around him, what? Six years,” said Marc Gasol with a shrug. “Not really that different.”

For his part, Joerger was of a similar mind. “It’s not something I give a second thought to. It’s nice to be out there coaching and it feels good. I’ve been very blessed to be a head coach for 350 games and also to work for a guy who let me coach.”

Joerger’s greatest strength, at least in Gasol’s estimation is his enthusiasm, a notion seconded by Mike Miller, who also pointed out Joerger’s exceptional ability to relate to players. “Today, that is absolutely key,” Miller affirmed after practice, a wide gray headband keeping his signature long locks out of his face and evoking a Captain Jack Sparrow vibe.

While it’s very difficult to judge a whole lot from one practice, there were a number of observations from the first two-hour session in the practice gym of Vanderbilt’s venerable Memorial Gymnasium:

·     The first block of practice was devoted to defense. Joerger outlined his fundamental defensive principles and drilled the Grizzlies on those principles throughout the session. It wasn’t until about 45 minutes had elapsed that Joerger ran the team through its basic offensive set. If anyone had questions about the team’s tough defensive identity changing in any way, you can simply forget it. Grit and grind isn’t going anywhere.

·     Joerger is an excellent teacher for a couple of reasons: first, he is thorough in his explanations of what he expects from a particular coverage or play; secondly he outlines the “whys” of a particular coverage or play and it is often those details that determine if a play will be successful. It was a method that served Hubie Brown exceptionally well.

·     There was no wasted motion in today’s session and no lapse in concentration. Once, maybe twice, did a drill need to be stopped to make a correction. Then again, Joerger filled out his camp roster with more mature players like Melvin Ely, Derrick Byars and Tony Gaffney. “I want guys in camp who won’t screw up drills,” explained Joerger.

·     Practice was designed to give players information in chunks rather than the proverbial drink from a firehose. Instruction and drills alternated so there wasn’t time for attention spans to diminish.

·     Jamaal Franklin did not look at all limited by the ankle injury he sustained before the draft and that kept him out of summer league. Ditto for Jon Leuer.

·     Flashiest footwear belonged to Zach Randolph who sported black Nikes with aqua and peach-color accents with neon greenish-yellow laces. Mike Miller and Mike Conley both wore bright yellow shoes.

·     Both Chairman Robert Pera and Grizzlies/FedExForum CEO Jason Levien attended the Tuesday morning session.

For more updates from camp, follow Pete on Twitter @PetePranica.