I was able to attend a Cuse practice and figured I'd give the posters on here a little breakdown of what I observed, because if you're like me, you are dying for the season to get underway. Take everything I say with a grain of salt because a) I am basing my observations off of an extremely small sample size (one practice) and b) there was a lot going on for just one set of eyes to catch everything. Anways, here goes: Position breakdowns: As far as scholarship players go for skill work, the guards consisted of Frank Howard, Tyus Battle, Andrew White, and John Gillon; the forwards Tyler Lydon, Tyler Roberson, Matthew Moyer, and Centers Dajuan Coleman, Pascal Chukwu, and Taureen Thompson. Nothing earth shattering here, although it was interesting to note that Andrew White worked exclusively with the guards on offensive skills, but did work at both the top and bottom of the zone when working on defensive rotations. Individual Breakdowns: Frank Howard- I came away most impressed with this young man after watching practice. There is no wonder why Rothstein is calling him a breakout candidate for this season. Frank looks so much more confident than he was at any point last year, and he is in complete control of the team. He was vocal getting guys in the right places on offense and defense, and physically looks to be in unbelievable shape (and explosive, looks to be completely over the ACL surgery from a few years ago). I was happy to see that he looks to be much improved from distance (as has been reported), even drilling a deep, contested, but in rhythm three off the dribble during five on five. I thought his problem last year was that he didn't fully extend his shooting elbow on his jump shots. I still saw that a few times on his misses, but when he fully extends his elbow his stroke looks pure! I've gotta believe he starts at the point from day one. Tyler Lydon- funny how the two Sophomores were the most impressive from what I saw. Lydon absolutely has an NBA ready skill: he strokes the piss out of the ball. His shot is so silky smooth, even his misses are a thing of beauty! It looks like he is getting his shot off much quicker this year as well. He looked comfortable handling the ball in drills, although he still plays a little high when going off the dribble (kind of hard not to when you are 6'9). Unfortunately I didn't see him really put the ball on the floor and attack in 5 on 5...never really had to because he was just simply raining trifectas. Like Frank, Tyler seemed to take on a vocal role, helping out the freshman quite a bit especially on their defensive assignments. He has definitely bulked up, so much so that I don't think he'll look out of place physically if he has to defend in the middle of the zone again this year. Andrew White- this guy is all business. He should show up to practice and games in a suit and tie and a briefcase. Never cracks a smile, but was vocal on defense and works hard in all the drills and 5 on 5. The thing that stood out to me (again, small sample size) is that when he can just simply catch and shoot...wow! He is lethal and doesn't need much time or space to get his 3pt shot off. However, when he has to put it on the floor he seemed uncomfortable. He isn't real fluid and doesn't seem to want to attack the hoop, rather pull up for jumpers off one or two dribbles. Defensively, I was reminded of the NFL draft analysts that talk about whether or not a DB has "fluid hips" that allow change directions quickly. White seems to lack this ability on defense, and was easily beaten off the dribble when they were working on their full court press. However, this didn't seem to be as much of an issue in the half court, and I think he'll do just fine no matter if he's on the top or bottom of the zone. Regardless, he is gonna be a major factor in spacing the floor on offense this year. Tyler Roberson- if he is going to take that senior leap we are all hoping he takes this year, he didn't show any signs of it in this practice. I saw the same Tyler we've seen the last two years. Not real assertive, gave up a several offensive rebounds in his area which caused JB to shake his head in disgust, and his jumper still has the same hitch just before his release causing it to be flat and short more often than not. He did have a couple nice offensive moves in the low post late in practice. Unfortunately though, I don't see him making a huge leap in production this year. If he can just give us consistent energy and rebounding though, I think that will be enough with what is around him. DC- Like Howard, he looked more comfortable and confident out on the court. He seemed to be more decisive when he caught the ball in the low post, and defensively I thought he was always in good position, and even had an impressive rejection. DC also showed off a mid range game on several occasions, and the coaching staff didn't seem to have a problem with him taking that shot. Looks to be in the best shape of his SU career. Gillon- didn't really stand out in one way or another during the practice I saw. He is definitely quick and active on defense. Watching him shoot in drills, he has impressive range and good form, although he shoots a set shot and his release starts a little lower than you would like, especially for someone his size (he is not 6 ft tall). I think he will come off the bench as a sparkplug for this team, and is the perfect compliment to Howard because they are two different types of point guards. He seems to fit in real well with his teammates, and brings a ton of experience to an important position. Battle- same as Gillon in that he didn't stand out all that much during 5 on 5 play. He didn't play poorly, just didn't really get the opportunity to showcase his skills (which sucks cuz now I will just have to wait until their first game to see them lol). However, he definitely looked dynamite during transition drills. He is super explosive!! His jump shot is going to be just fine as well...I dont think we'll see him put up a ton of makes from the 3pt this year, but he can stroke it when left open. He turns his non shooting hand some when he shoots the ball, which may cause for some inconsistency...I imagine the coaching staff will iron that out in due time. Chukwu- as advertised. Freakishly long, surprisingly mobile. Not going to put up big offensive numbers but can get putbacks just by standing near the basket. Watching him dunk lobs was entertaining...his hands are so far above the rim when he catches the ball its ridiculous. I'm interested to see him in live games to get a better read on his abilities defensively. Thompson- good looking shot from mid range (he hit several of these shots during practice), and seems to have good court awareness and feel. He's active on the boards and on D, but he is definitely raw and made some typical freshman mistakes especially on zone rotations. Can't see him seeing much if any time during ACC play. Moyer- I would imagine the foot injury and not being able to do contact drills has put him behind the eight ball, because he was lost playing the wing of the zone. Autry was all over him, as was JB. He's all arms and legs, and is really the only scholarship player that doesn't have an ACC ready body. I was impressed with his shot however, and he looked very comfortable playing the wing on offense and shooting from distance. He form has smoothed out and his release has gotten quicker. No doubt before its all said and done Moyer is going to be a great player and an all time fan favorite...just dont see it happening just yet this year. Overall observations: Tons of talent. Legit two deep at every position, although they will likely play 8 once league play comes around. Shooting the ball will not be a problem. Incredibly long, but the zone will take a while to become a terror because so many new players need to learn the rotations. Hopkins, Gmac, and Autry really get after the players and make things really competitive. JB is so laid back during practice, such a difference from the persona we see during games. They worked on their full court press for a decent amount of time...it will be interesting to see if it becomes a weapon this year. Going to run a lot of the same offensive sets as the last few years, ie ball screens, pin downs, etc. I know the starting five has been a hot topic of debate, but after seeing practice I'll be shocked if it isn't Howard, White, Lydon, Roberson, Coleman.