Will Wade opened his first official preseason practice as the LSU men’s basketball coach Friday afternoon with 12 of the 15 players on the Tigers’ overhauled roster participating in a three-hour workout.
As expected, forwards Jeremy Combs and Galen Alexander did not take part in the first full-scale practice as they worked on the side with trainers while rehabbing from surgeries.
Guard Randy Onwuasor, a graduate transfer from Southern Utah, also was absent during the media's 45-minute viewing period with what Wade described as a "family matter."
Wade said earlier this week that Combs, a graduate transfer from North Texas, underwent surgery Sept. 18 to stabilize an ankle injury that dates to last season. He will be out 6-to-8 weeks.
Alexander, a freshman from Breaux Bridge, had knee surgery in December and isn’t ready for full participation, Wade said. Alexander will continue to be limited to modified workouts and conditioning drills.
"It was a typical opening day,” Wade said. “The defense was ahead of the offense, which you would expect. I thought our guys played hard. I wish we had a little bit better attention to detail during the practice with what we are doing, and we got a little fatigued.
"We need be able to fight through it a little better. But it’s the first day. We are a work in progress. We’ve got to keep taking steps forward."
Wade won’t hold practice Saturday because of LSU’s home football game with Troy, but he will have two Sunday. The Tigers will be back at it Monday and Tuesday before a day off Wednesday, then wrap up their first week with workouts on Thursday and Friday.
Can't see the video below? Click here.
Getting their work in
NCAA rules allow teams to have 30 practice sessions over a 42-day span, which will bring LSU to its Nov. 10 season opener against Alcorn State.
Two of the practices will be full-scale scrimmages with other schools, which are closed to media and fans.
Since taking over as LSU’s basketball coach last March, Will Wade has been on a non-stop mis…
LSU in the past had a scrimmage and an exhibition game, but Wade decided his team would benefit more from two scrimmages. The Tigers’ roster has only five scholarship players back from last year’s 10-21 team.
“I wasn’t quite sure we’d be ready for showtime on Nov. 4 (the exhibition date),” Wade said. “I felt with this group, it would be best to do two scrimmages.”
He said the good thing is the head coaches can format the scrimmage and control it any way they want, including stopping the game to go over strategy and situational teaching points.
Three of the five players back from last season have been the hardest workers through the summer and fall semesters, Wade said.
He identified sophomore guard Skylar Mays and senior forwards Aaron Epps and Duop Reath as the hardest workers on the team so far.
In addition, those three and sophomore forward Wayde Sims have changed their bodies. Mays and Sims shed weight, while Epps and Reath packed on muscle. On average, Wade said, his team added 12 pounds per man.
After having already received commitments from a pair of top 30 players in the Class of 2018…
“I think if you asked any of our guys they’d tell you they are in better shape, they are stronger, their basketball skills are a little bit better,” he said. “They feel like they have improved. None of this works if they don’t feel like they are getting better. That is certainly a critical piece to what we are doing.”
One thousand days
While his team went through a three-day “boot camp” conditioning test at 6 a.m. each day Monday through Wednesday, Wade achieved a personal milestone.
He’s now run at least a mile for 1,000 consecutive days, a streak that dates to January 2015 when he was the second-year coach at Chattanooga.
In a New York Times story that November, Wade said: “I ask my team to be disciplined. I’ve got to be disciplined as well.”
In a text to The Advocate on Wednesday, Wade, who wakes up at 4 a.m. each day, said there are no plans to end the streak yet.
“It will continue,” he wrote. “Not sure how long.”