Nov. 6, 2003
In previous seasons, discussion with Dick Davey's regarding his preseason concerns generally revolved around the team's defensive abilities, rebounding or perimeter shooting.
After a two straight 13-15 seasons, Davey addressed men's basketball boosters recently by telling them his number one concern is the team's health. He's optimistic of his team's chances if they can stay away from the trainer's room.
"The past two seasons have been really frustrating from the standpoint that we haven't been healthy, " says Davey. "But, using that as an excuse isn't good enough. You have to go out and win games and do the best you can under whatever circumstances are there."
To jar loose the repressed memory, here's the list of last year's wounded: Kyle Bailey, back and foot injuries; J.R Patrick, knee surgery; Jordan Legge, knee and elbow; Scott Borchardt, twin shoulder operations; Cord Anderson, foot; Brad Anderson, shoulder; Ethan Rhode, abdominal and Bakari Altheimer, who played just half the year after suffering a foot stress fracture. There were six surgeries either during or after the season with several others dealing with a variety of health-related problems.
"We think we have a much better chance of being successful if we can stay healthy this year," said Davey. "How we do that? I can't tell you. You can't change the practice drastically or you can't not have contact. It is not like football from that standpoint where you can limit contact until game day. You've got to do it in practice to get the feel of things a little."
To prevent injuries, the team spent a lot of extra time the last two years with pre-season stretching. Obviously, that didn't help so much of the time will be devoted to playing basketball, improving conditioning and getting ready for the season.
"We've talked about changing some things, did the stretching and STILL had all those injuries," said Davey. "This year we're telling them to get themselves ready and when the whistle blows we get started. All the stretching didn't necessarily help our problems, so we decided to just go play."
Davey looked for a piece of wood to knock when talking about just the two guys who are currently dealing with medical dings. Sophomore guard Brandon Rohe has been out a month with a back injury and should return to practice soon, while freshman center Sean Dennison is 50-50 to play this season with a minor foot injury.
The key that turns the engine is Bailey, an all-WCC selection as a sophomore. He tried to play a few games last year and just couldn't move. Davey doesn't want to say too much right now for fear of jinxing him, but was happy with Bailey's play during Monday's scrimmage. In his refreshingly honest, perfectionist point of view, Coach believes Bailey was one of few guys who performed well.
"We didn't pass well. We dribbled too much. We didn't rebound well. Our screening was horrible. We traveled too much. We set illegal screens and didn't see the court very well," Davey lamented. "We didn't create leads well and our shot selection was horrible."
"That pretty much covers it."
Those remarks aren't unique to this squad. He's told me similar things before the ball is tipped for real, particlarly regarding the Steve Nash 20-win teams that won the league and made the NCAA tournament. It's the Broncos' healthy approach to a hopefully healthy season.