NASHVILLE --- Energy and intensity were on display as the Tennessee State men’s basketball team kicked off the 2016-17 season with its first official practice on Saturday night at the Gentry Center.
A year after posting the program's third 20-win season at the Division I level, third year Head Coach Dana Ford focused much of the first practice on forming an identity and helping his team understand the mechanics of how practices will run throughout the season.
“It’s an exciting time,” Ford said. “The guys were really anxious to get back out here. Unlike many teams, we haven’t done very much as a group yet for a long, extended period of time. This was the first time that we had been together for this long, and I thought the guys paid attention and we had a pretty good pace considering there was a lot of teaching and a lot of stoppage. I think they did fairly well tonight.”
After ball handling and passing, the practice shifted to the defensive end with sliding and defensive rebounding taking the forefront.
Saturday’s session also included offensive and defensive shell drills as well as transition offense and defense. The spirited practice was capped with out of bounds plays and stretching.
The Tigers will host Fisk for an exhibition game on Nov. 3 before playing UC Davis in Santa Clara, Calif. on Nov. 11 for the season opener.
TSU Head Coach Dana Ford
“Forming our identity. That’s the focus of every single practice. We need to figure out who we’re going to be, how we’re going to go about doing it and whether or not that’s going to lead to success as the year goes on. Right now, we’re just trying to figure out what our identity is going to be day in and day out.”
- On the focus of the first practice
“I think the leadership. Having guys back like Tahjere McCall, Darreon Reddick, Wayne Martin, guys like that who have been through a couple big games for us and have an understanding of how we operate and the attention to detail and having guys who can come behind them and follow was really good tonight.”
- On the positives of practice
TSU Guard Darreon Reddick
“I thought it went really well. It was very high energy and a lot of focus. This was our first time working with Coach Ford for a long amount of time. I thought we paid attention really well and stayed focused throughout the whole time.”
- Initial thoughts on practice
“It’s exciting. We’ve worked hard all summer together and got better individually. We’re ready to actually put it together as a team to be great.”
- On what it mean to be back together with the team
“Defense. You know Coach Ford is a defensive-minded coach so most of the practice was defense. In order to win games, you have to be able to play defense so everything today was defense. It will always be defense that wins games and championships.”
- On the focus of practice
TSU Forward Wayne Martin
“It was hard. First time being back in a team setting, it was hard, but we did a lot of good today. We had a lot of energy, and we were flying around.”
- On how the first practice went
“The focus of the day was having energy and being focused on the task that we have ahead of us.”
- On the focus of practice
“Toughness. We’re going to do a lot of stuff that’s going to want to make us quit, but if we have toughness, we’re going to get through it and we’re going to be a better team.”
- On what he wants to see from his team early this season