It ended up being just a single full day of visitation, but Gib Arnold returned from Louisville a wiser man on Friday.
Okay, so the dividends of his trip may not be immediately identifiable, but the UH coach said he did indeed benefit from his brief stay with Rick Pitino and the staff of the defending national champion Cardinals.
It was strange timing, in that Pitino had a press conference Thursday to announce the indefinite suspension of forward Chane Behanan. Arnold confirmed he was around for that and the subsequent media frenzy.
Much of the benefit of sitting in on Louisville’s practice was observing their intense press work, Arnold said.
“A lot of good stuff,” he said. “Their thing is their press, so I just went and watched and asked a lot of questions. I’ve had a lot of pressing teams before. We’ve never done it here (at UH), but it’s something we’re going to slowly work into the mix. I think we’ve got some guys who can press a little bit this year. So I thought it was very fruitful. A lot of ideas coming back, things that can help and add to things we’ve already got in.”
Not coincidentally, UH did some of its first presswork of the preseason on Friday, just minutes after Arnold arrived back in the islands.
“Majority of it we already had in, a few tweaks that I liked that they did. Teaching techniques that I liked that Coach Pitino uses. So yeah, we adopted and meshed into what we already had. We’ve done very little presswork, so today was the first day we really spent a lot of time on the press.”
Arnold declined to name any one particular thing he was able to implement.
“We just added on to what we had, and a couple drills that I liked, but I don’t think you can put it on one thing. … There’s no secrets in the game of basketball. The best coaches are all thieves ’cause we all steal from each other. I think as of right now they’re the best in the business in pressing and their defensive transition out of a press. So that’s mostly what I keyed on. How they did that, how they drilled. He spent about 80 minutes on just the press. So you’re good at what you do, and they emphasize that and they’re good at that.
“They also got about five guys that are unbelievable shot blockers, so they can gamble a little more than most teams. They’ve got erasers down there than can clean it up. And they rely on that. I think they had over 20 blocks in the drills, it was unbelievable. So you also have to understand, you have to skew it to your personnel. We don’t have quite the shot blockers they do, but we’ve got some guys that can cause some trouble on the ball defensively.”
The other interesting angle to Arnold’s trip was interacting with Rick Pitino himself. Pitino, as you probably are aware, was a former UH assistant under head coach Bruce O’Neil, and took over the last six games of the ’75-76 season when O’Neil was dismissed. By reputation, Pitino hasn’t exactly embraced that part of his past, which went in the books as his first games as a head coach.
“It was him and his staff. He was real good. He was gracious,” Arnold said. “(I) had a few questions and he talked. It was something where I told him we’re going to come back and work on it. If I had any more questions, he’s a guy I can always reach back to. I’m sure I’ll call him a couple times throughout the year with a few things or watch him on TV, what they do. Just a definite resource to have and he was very helpful. He told me he enjoyed his time here as well, in Hawaii. So that’s always good too.”
Ready for the Green & White Scrimmage at the Stan Sheriff at 7 tonight?
I’d like to tell you exactly which players will be on which teams and which ones are participating in the dunk contest, but Arnold and Co. are keeping that under wraps until “gameday.”
Likely dunk contest participants are: Aaron Valdes, Garrett Nevels, Quincy Smith. Possibles: Mike Thomas, Isaac Fotu, Davis Rozitis.
“Whoever wants to at that time, I’m going to say, ‘OK , who’s in the dunk contest,’ and whoever raises their hand is in the dunk contest. Probably about five or six guys I’m sure,” Arnold said
As for the scrimmage rosters, those may change at halftime if the first half is lopsided. Here’s one man’s guess of how the teams might look to make things even. Again, this is a guess.
Green team: Keith Shamburger, Brandon Spearman, Brandon Jawato, Aaron Valdes, Isaac Fotu, Stefan Jovanovic, Jack Hackman, Dyrbe Enos
White team: Quincy Smith, Garrett Nevels, Christian Standhardinger, Davis Rozitis, Mike Thomas, Michael Harper, Negus Webster-Chan
Injured (sidelined) players: Niko Filipovich, Caleb Dressler
If you’re wondering, the UH women’s hoops team will not have a presence in the festivities tonight.