I know I might get fined by Canes Nation for posting a basketball blog with football season on the horizon. But for the few hoops diehards like OrangeCane and others who are wondering what Frank Haith's basketball team might look like next season without Jack McClinton, Brian Asbury, Lance Hurdle and Jimmy Graham, here's a pretty good interview I had with James Dews last week.
JD, who will be a senior and one of the few familiar faces on this team, talked about just how different this team has looked in the gym during summer workouts without McClinton and with six new players on the roster. Dews also said sophomore point guard Malcolm Grant, who sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules, is the proverbial truth and has added a new dimension to a team that hasn't had a true point guard in two seasons. FYI, be sure to check out my feature on Grant in Saturday's paper.
Q: How is Malcolm Grant different from Jack?
JD: "I think Jack led mostly by example. He spoke a lot. But Malcolm, he leads by example too, but is also more vocal. He demands a lot, which is good. Some players can't take that. But the majority of us can. And Malcolm demands we all work hard. If its an end of a drill, running through the end of the line, Malcolm demands that. If he makes a mistake, he's also the first one to say my bad. He demands a lot from himself. And that's important."
Q: How will having a vocal leader versus an example guy help this team?
JD: "I think its good because Malcolm's energy and leadership is rubbing off on other guys. Not just me. We always talk about being leaders. We'll hear some of the younger guys speaking up. As a senior, we'll be like 'Wow. He's just a sophomore.' And having that in the huddle will help us all next year. We can all be our own leaders to."
Q: How different is it having that passer on the court?
JD: "Not a knock on Jack, he was a scoring point guard first. Lance, he was a scorer. Malcolm is a scorer too, but he can come down and get you nine assists a game. He can come down and just find the guys. Working with him in open gym and even last year playing with him, I find myself personally scoring my buckets a lot easier with Malcolm. He'll do all the work and I'm wide open all of a sudden. Playing with somebody like that, I'm really excited. I know a lot of other guys are really excited. Malcolm is going to bring a lot to the table.
Q: How is he helping the guys in the paint like Dwayne [Collins] who see a lot of doubles?
JD: "Malcolm is definitely helping out. He's not just driving, he's creating for us. When he creates and we hit a big three, that's going to open up the inside. Also with the pick and roll, I know Malcolm is looking for the roll a lot. The post guys are realizing there's a good chance I'm going to get the ball instead of just setting the screen when before they really weren't expecting it. Malcolm is coming off that screen hard and is looking to dump it off for an easy layup."
Q: How different do you guys look without Jack?
JD: "We are a different team. We lost Jack, Hurdle, Graham, Asbury, we're a totally different team. We got six new guys. We're young, but I think that's good. We don't have the expectations. We're all going to play hard and play 'D' and that's what's important. The offense will take care of itself."
Q: How is the offense different? Coach Haith said you'll run a lot more this year.
JD: "It's way different. We're a much more longer, real athletic team. It's something coach has always talked about -- get out and go. And, we're definitely going to be in shape. The training is way different. We're going to be in shape. That was a problem last year. We weren't as good a shape as we are now. Now, we're capable of doing all the running coach wants us to do. Our team is definitely different."
Q: How is this summer's training been different?
JD: "We're doing a lot of long distance running. We could probably be a cross country team. Last year we only ran a couple times a week. This year, we're running three or four times a week. We run on the track. We're hitting it and getting it."
Q: What are your early impressions of the freshmen?
JD: "They're all hard workers and they all want to get better. They're asking us for advice. They just want to fit in. Durand [Scott] is athletic and long. He's really good around the basket. Garrius [Adams] is a great shooter. Donovan [Kirk] is so athletic. He's long. He plays hard. He's going to be one of our energy guys, who takes a charge and dives on the floor. And Antoine [Allen] is really good with the ball. He can get to the hole at will. All of them are really going to help us."
Q: How is Reggie [Johnson] and some of the other guys who didn't play a lot last year coming along?
JD: "Reggie has trimmed down. Me and Malcom were just talking about this. When he sets a screen for you, you're wide open. The other day we probably had about 10 open shots a piece. He just clears it out -- down screens, ball screens. He's a good rebounder and he's real good around the basket. Julian [Gamble] is an energy guy who never stops playing. He has a lot of heart. He's going to hit the glass for us. He loves setting screens, you never have to call for it. Jewels is going to be a lot more vocal too."
Q: What's your reaction to seeing Jimmy Graham in a football uniform?
JD: "It was so weird. We're out running on the track one morning and he's out there catching footballs. Jimmy is still with as much as he was last year. We watched the draft at Hooters. We all still hang out together. I know he's going to be great. Watch out for Jimmy Graham. No. 80. Listening to Jacory [Harris] tell us as well as other guys, he really is doing great out there."
DEVIN HESTER COMMERCIAL: For those of you who would like to see the former Hurricane's new commercial, set to debut Sunday during the ESPY's click on the link.