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Notebook: Hill Laces 'Em Up, Unusual End to Practice

by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness

July 4, 2013

It’s been a whirlwind week for Pacers rookie Solomon Hill. One week ago, he was taken with the 23rd pick. On Monday, he was introduced to the Indianapolis media as well as Pacers fans. Late Wednesday, after having to miss the first Summer League team practice because his contract wasn’t signed, he put his name on the dotted line to officially make him part of the Pacers organization.

“I really wanted to get out on the court so I was glad my agent got that taken care of,” Hill said Thursday, “because it’s hard sitting here, especially with three-hour practices sitting here watching, so you definitely want to be out there on the court and be with your teammates.

“All the business stuff is done. It’s good to start doing what I’m supposed to do.”

Already, coach Dan Burke, who’s once again coaching the Summer League team, likes what he’s getting from Hill, a four-year player out of the University of Arizona. Beyond Hill’s vision and passing traits, Burke was particularly impressed with his defensive attitude.

“He’s got a lot of know-how,” he said. “My favorite part: It looks like he’s a willing defender and he’s been well-coached. He’s going to help us defensively. If he can contribute that right away, he’ll get minutes right away in my mind.”

Hill has a lot of room for growth, but after two practices among 18 others fighting for a roster spot in the NBA, he believes his passing ability has already made an impact.

“A lot of guys out here are getting open and it just makes the game easier for them,” Hill said. “Sometimes when the play breaks down or I get a ball screen, I’m in the lane and I’m kicking to open shooters – I’m kicking to the guy that’s rolling and guys are starting to find that out. Guys have their hands ready when I’m getting in the lane.”

In a new situation with dozens of new faces, getting the system down has been one of Hill’s priorities. He’s clearly an intelligent young man so although he is concerned, grasping the plays shouldn’t be too difficult.

“When you get into the season, there are going to be a lot of plays,” He explained. “You don’t want to be the new guy that’s messing up the plays. Right now we’re running basic sets so you just have to understand the sets. I watched the first practice and was able to catch on to some things and [then] getting onto the floor and doing it at a faster pace.”

The team has three more practices before heading down to Orlando for five games. Before then, the roster is expected be trimmed from 19 players down to between 13-15.

Odd Conclusion to Practice

On Wednesday, after the usual 5-on-5 work, coach Burke decided to end practice with an unusual exercise. He directed one player to attempt a free throw with the feeling that the game was on the line. When the selected player toed the line, the other 18 guys lined the baseline, jumped up and down with their hands in the air while making noise. Afterwards, after the ball went through the net, they all celebrated with cheers and high-fives at the foul line.

Burke said he picked it up from longtime NBA coach Rick Adelman “20-some years ago.” It served two purposes. 1) To put the shooter in a pressure situation with typical distractions, and 2) Do it as a unit, knowing one’s teammates are there while also keeping everyone engaged.

The drill caught the eyes of everyone, and the players seemed to enjoy it, too. Coach Burke has thoroughly enjoyed the group team officials signed to the Summer League roster.

“We had so many guys out here wiping up the floor today,” Burke said of the hustle. “We had all kinds of guys diving on the floor today. It’s been a tremendous group.”

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