Musselman gets feet dirty at first practice
New Kings coach joins the defensive drill he orders, and his players are impressed.
By Joe Davidson - Bee Staff Writer
Last Updated 7:44 am PDT Wednesday, October 4, 2006
Eric Musselman didn't just order defensive slide drills for his team Tuesday morning. He slid right along -- hands up, feet gliding.
The first-year Kings coach led the opening day of training camp by example, though he assured it was only a one-time deal, so help his hamstrings.
"Our first defensive drills and there's (Musselman) out there doing the slide," Kings swingman Kevin Martin said. "I saw that, and it was like, Yeah, he's ready for some defense."
Added Ron Artest, a player known for his hard-nosed defense and superb conditioning: "Coach was out there goin' pretty hard, and he didn't fall over. You can't slack off if the coach is doing the drill."
Musselman was not alone setting the tone for a spirited morning of defensive drills and scrimmage. The team's senior veteran, Mike Bibby, showed up to camp at 185 pounds, about 15 pounds lighter than last season, all the better to chase around speedy point guards such as Phoenix's Steve Nash and San Antonio's Tony Parker.
Musselman described Bibby's defensive efforts at practice as "phenomenal." That's usually the word used to describe Bibby's soft shooting touch -- not his defense.
Bibby explained that he changed his diet, added different workout regimens and trimmed down from the more musclebound look he had last year to gain more lateral quickness and burst. His teammates said they noticed the difference during the summer, and his coach caught notice Tuesday.
Bibby was taken to task last season for having feet of concrete as NBA guards, including Parker in the playoffs, blurred by him for layups. Bibby's inability to move with quicker foes had opposing coaches yelling at their point guards to attack him.
"It's something I needed to do," Bibby said.
And to show it was more than words, Bibby at one point played tight on-ball coverage on Ronnie Price and didn't allow the Kings' quickest player to dribble by him.
"I thought Mike had a great practice," Musselman said. "I thought defensively he was phenomenal. He pressured the ball for 74 feet. I thought he came in here with a lot of energy. He came in here like he had something to prove."
Musselman said he didn't suggest Bibby lighten up.
"I've seen him play for awhile," Musselman said, adding that he believes Bibby can be special on both ends of the floor. "He came in with an edge of competing.
"He knew we were going to have a conditioning test, but it was more Mike on his own. I think physically, he's in really good shape. It was obvious today."
To a man, the players said they appreciated the intensity of Day One, even if it meant some soreness today. The night practice session didn't include 5-on-5 scrimmaging -- per NBA rules, that's allowed only once a day -- but Musselman ran the team through a lot of technique and defensive pick-and-roll work.
The five players who wore black jerseys as Day One starters were Bibby, Martin, Artest, Brad Miller and Kenny Thomas. Free-agent swingman John Salmons also is in the running for the shooting guard spot Martin covets, and Shareef Abdur-Rahim again is competing with Thomas for the starting power forward spot.
Throw in the long-shot players, and the tempo was frenzied.
"The players were really good, and there were a lot of coachable moments," Musselman said. "They were really receptive.
"I was really impressed with the effort and energy. Everyone had a high desire to come out and compete. It was a great practice. We're asking some guys to do things they haven't done in the past. It's one practice. We don't have a win yet."
Thursday: Start of NBA exhibition schedule.
Sunday: Kings Fandemonium event at Arco Arena, 6 p.m.
Oct. 12: Kings exhibition game at Dallas, 5:30 p.m.
Oct. 17: Kings exhibition game vs. L.A. Lakers at Las Vegas, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19: Kings exhibition game at Phoenix, 7 p.m.
Oct. 20: Kings exhibition game vs. Utah at Arco, 7 p.m.
Oct. 22: Kings exhibition game vs. New Orleans in Reno, 5 p.m.
Oct. 24: Kings exhibition game vs. New Orleans at Arco, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25: Kings exhibition game at Seattle, 7 p.m.
Oct. 27: Kings exhibition game vs. Portland at Arco, 7 p.m.
Oct. 30: Rosters set for opening day.
Oct. 31: Start of 2006-07 regular season.
Nov. 1: Kings season opener at Minnesota, 5 p.m.
Nov. 6: Kings home opener vs. Minnesota, 7 p.m.
About the writer: The Bee's Joe Davidson can be reached at jdavidson@ sacbee.com.
Awesome, I'm loving the way he coaches already. He's gotten Bibby to play good defense!!!!!!!