Training Camp, presented by Flagstar: Casey gets the Pistons off and running: ‘I loved our energy’

Luke Kennard
Luke Kennard was full go for the first Pistons practice of training camp after spending his off-season rehabilitating a knee injury.
NBAE/Getty Images
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

ANN ARBOR – Before construction on the Pistons gleaming new practice facility and team headquarters in Detroit gets too far along, they might want to make a few design changes to include tempered glass and recessed lighting.

“We’ve got to replace a few lights, window panes upstairs,” Dwane Casey grinned while discussing the exuberance of his first Pistons practice, held at the University of Michigan’s practice center. “We threw the ball around.”

What they lacked in precision, Casey’s Pistons made up for with their energy, though. And for the way Casey wants to play – getting up and down the floor, moving constantly without the ball to exploit defenses spread out by the threat of the 3-point shot he religiously emphasizes – energy must underpin everything the Pistons do.

And, thus, they’re going to require the conditioning of distance swimmers.

“You’ve got to be in not good condition – great condition,” Casey said. “And our guys are there. They’re further along. Now, Game 7 condition? They’re not there yet, but they’re closer than the old days.”

Casey said the first practice’s focus was on the defensive end, getting everyone familiar with not only the principles but the terminology.

“My philosophy is different than what Blake (Griffin) had in Clipper land. It’s different than what other players had,” Casey said. “So that’s making sure we’re on the same wavelength. We’ve got to get on the same page, what we’re saying, because that tells us exactly what we want to do in every situation.”

Luke Kennard and rookie Khyri Thomas, each limited in their summer work by injuries, were both full participants, Casey said. Reggie Jackson and Jon Leuer took part more selectively, though Jackson said, “ramped up a little more today, still feel good, ankle feels great,” and Casey said Leuer was “further along than I thought he would be.”

Casey wasn’t tipping his hand on lineup combinations – not even to his players.

“I had ’em all mixed up,” he said. “I did it on purpose today. I had everybody in, alternated. Wasn’t any set lineup and that may be for the first couple of days just to make sure we keep everybody a little motivated. What I want to do is establish an atmosphere of equality.”

Casey is alternating twice-daily practices with single sessions for their first four days in Ann Arbor, capped on Saturday by a noon scrimmage open to the public. But the single-session days include evening shooting drills and even the double-dip days build in time before and after practices for shooting. Casey wants the Pistons to be a volume 3-point-shooting team, but first he’s going to make sure their muscle memory is well developed for launching them.

And he wants those shots practiced under stress and the fatigue that a training camp induces. Based on the energy level he wanted to see – and got – in his first practice, the Casey era launched successfully Tuesday.

“I loved our energy,” he said. “I thought the energy was great. Guys competed hard, running the floor hard, in great condition. Guys’ motors are a little bit faster than they’ve normally been going, so some of the turnovers we knew were going to happen. But I loved the energy, togetherness. It was a good first day.”

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