A-10: Practicing Practice

By - October 24, 2006

The ever-vigilant fan base on Hawk Hill is up in arms about Saint Joseph’s eighth-place standing in the preseason poll. But with six new players joining Martelli’s youngest-ever group, the ranking is somewhat understandable.

Martelli’s solution in the early going has been to overcoach with an almost-fanatical attention to detail.

“Everything that we do has been coached. We had a practice for practice, because I have two new coaches, too,” Martelli said. “So when I say, ’This is the way that we’re going to guard,’ I had to take them on the court and show them. During the last week of our individual instruction, we used that time to practice practice.

“We probably have 65 different drills that we could use at any point during a practice and it’s all skill work, but we call it different names. So we might call something 'UCLA,' we might call something else 'UConn,' we might call something else 'Carolina,' we might call something 'Dayton.' I had to let the coaches know, ‘OK, this is where you go.’ Because the thing that I can’t handle in practice is standing around -- it just drives me crazy. So everything that we do in practice is timed, everything is paced, and we pack a lot into two hours and 20 minutes -- but none of it includes everybody standing around while I say, ‘You go to that end, you go to this end, you go to that end.’"

Martelli, at ease talking about the efficiency of his team's practice sessions, continued.

"Everything that we do is coached," Martelli said. "I can’t handle players bending over during practice. It doesn’t do your body well because if you’re bending over you’re breathing bad air back into you. So stand up straight, make eye contact."

Martelli’s consummate diligence and obsession with the little things extends to the nuances particular to the college game -- its specialized rules.

“We do a situation every day in practice. We want to see how people are going to react in the end [of games],” Martelli said. “When we first did it, the first time they rushed and threw the ball in and I said, ‘Why did you rush?’ and they said ‘Well, the clock…’

“And I said, ‘In college, the clock stops with a minute left.’ They didn’t know that. Five of them have never played with a shotclock, so we have to utilize a shotclock. So everything that you can imagine is practiced and has to be coached.”

Posted by at 04:12 PM on October 24, 2006

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