Today's practice was scheduled to conclude around noon, to the same tune as yesterday. But then noon turned into 12:30, and 12:30 turned into 12:45. As I approached the outskirts out of the practice court, there was booming audio of shuffling sneakers, and coaches exclaiming input. Practice had gone overboard, but the work (from the sounds of it at least) was relentless.
Today marked the first time that a scrimmage had taken place, affording the coaching staff -- as well as the players -- the opportunity to work out the kinks within a five on five setting. Outside of Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis having the rapport of a married couple, the rest of young guns are going to need time to gel. With that said, today was a nice first step according to Coach Bjorkgren.
"We were able to look at different guys in different positions," Bjorkgren said. "[With] competing, you can see what guys can and can't do."
Booker is slated to play in at least the first game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday, but the duration of his stay with the team is unknown at this point due to his mandate with USA Basketball. Being affiliated with Team USA is an honor that Booker seemed appreciative for, but you could also tell that he thought it was long overdue.
"It just shows that hard work pays off. You know when the U16 and U17 teams were selected, I should have been in there. Now all the guys that were on those teams, you know, a lot of them are still in college and things like that," Booker said. "I am getting the chance to participate against the grown Olympic team. I would rather take that chance now than back in the day."
For the humble Booker, that statement counts as a controversial one. Not getting picked amongst some of the other elite high school talents is obviously something that still puts a chip on his shoulder to this day. I always appreciate the little things athletes use to motivate themselves, and it was enlightening to see Book shed some light on that situation.
And again: Dude isn't even 20 years old yet, and he speaks like a seasoned veteran. Hard to envision a world where that guy isn't successful.
Coach Nate Bjorkgren: