Training Camp Photo Gallery | Costa Rica Foreign Tour Central
DAVIS, Calif. - For two weeks, the sounds of shoes squeaking, basketballs bouncing and raucous cheers of encouragement will echo throughout the campus now that UC Davis basketball is hard at work preparing for its upcoming foreign tour. What began this past weekend will continue through August 19: The Aggies will participate 10 practices before departing for Costa Rica later this month.
Allowed by the NCAA once every four years (with funds raised through outside sources), UC Davis will team up with locals and work at a local orphanage, in addition to competing in three games throughout its week-long tour.
“I was really pleased with the pace of practice, the guys really went after it with great enthusiasm,” said head coach Jim Les following his team’s first workout. “Who we are as a team, and as a program starts with that. I love the fact that when the guys step between the lines, they are going to give a full effort.”
Each workout provides this year’s roster with another opportunity to strengthen the team’s chemistry, become more familiar with its systems and schemes. For the team’s newcomers, this current block of practices will also help them adjust to the speed, physicality and intensity of Division I basketball.
With each day that passes, the coaching staff will focus on four key principles that are critical to the team’s success: defensive execution and effort, rebounding, playing with pace and protecting the basketball.
“Throughout these 10 practices and three games, if we can improve as a team in each one of those areas, I think that is a great start for us heading into the fall,” said Les.
UC Davis basketball ended the 2015-16 season with the top defense in the Big West Conference by limiting opponents to 66 points per game. That average was the 40th-lowest among all 346 D-I teams.
Half of the team’s 10 returning letterwinners are seniors, a group that knows firsthand the amount of hard work, dedication, sacrifice and teamwork is needed to bring a Big West title back to Davis since most were a part of the Aggies’ championship season.
“The seniors give a visual example every day with regards with how we want to play and the intensity we want to display,” said Les. “Those guys are very coachable.”
“For the young guys coming in, whether you are brand new or only have one year of experience at this level, its always nice to look out on the floor and see an example of what we, as coaches, are looking for,” he added.
“Being a senior, my first responsibility is making sure we keep up the desired pace of play. I know how important it is to practice at game speed since it carries over when we face another team,” said J.T. Adenrele.
Once the first day of practice ended, the senior forward reflected on competing in his first practice in more than a year.
“Today was fun. I enjoyed competing with the guys and going full speed and seeing what everyone can do. I really liked competition, effort and intensity of this first practice, guys were going all out the entire time.”
Even though everyone is excited to compete against international competition, in an organized game, the Aggies fully understand how this opportunity can help the program fulfill its ultimate goal.
Said Adenrele, “We are going to work hard, learn, grow as a team, and strengthen our team chemistry throughout these next few weeks, which will help us become better prepared for the challenges we will face this season.”
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