Agness’ Observations: Pacers Training Camp 2014

Training camp is underway at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Pacers have exactly a month before tipping off the 2014-15 regular season. They’ll do so at home against the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 29.

Training camp opens September 30th and essentially runs through October 28th. They’ll have almost a week between their last exhibition game (Oct. 23 at Charlotte) and their first meaningful game. They are scheduled to have four two-a-day practices (Sept. 30, Oct. 1, Oct. 3, Oct. 5) and likely on the suggestion of the training staff, they are every other day.

In addition to my stories throughout camp, I’ll share my daily observations from practice below.

Friday, Oct. 3 (AM) — Practice No. 6

Another day, another practice. Good news for the team – especially the players – is their final set of two-a-days. They’ll practice on Sunday and then have the FanJam, but the latter is usually lighthearted and fun for the fans.

+ Head coach Frank Vogel said rookie Shayne Whittington sat out of practice after being kicked in his left leg, the same one he broke in May.

“Got kicked in the same spot where he broke it, so they’re pretty sure it’s just soreness from being kicked,” Vogel said. They’re not concerned with the injury.

+ There were about 10 college coaches, including Jason Gardner and his IUPUI staff, in the stands to observe practice. Having other coaches in is a usual occurrence during NBA training camps, and assistant Dan Burke handles it with the Pacers since he has a lot of roots here, dating back to 1997 when he came on board.

+ Following up on what Paul George told Chris Denari and Mark Boyle on media day at – “It’s very possible that I can play (this season) – Vogel once again said that while no official timetable has been announced by the team, the team’s mindset continues to be that Paul will not be available this season. He does expect George to contribute with what he can, primarily by helping the wings prepare for their defensive assignments each game.

The team reloaded on carbs during lunch and will gather again at 6 p.m. for their seventh practice. The day practices are listed as four hours, while the evenings ones, which mostly consist of conditioning and running through offensive sets.

Wednesday, Oct. 1 (AM) — Practice No. 3

Players conclude practice with 50 made free throws.

The team looked a little more tired on Wednesday at the end of their third practice in 24 hours. During their handful of night practices, it’s non-contact work, as required by the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, and so the focus is on running, shooting, and “skeleton” offense.

Vogel to his team towards the end of practice: “You’re not tired. You’re not sore. Push through it! Maximize your speed!

“We have the speed to be great.”

C.J. Miles once again sat out during the latter part of practice, where more contact is involved. He said while he has played, which has been for the majority of the time, he and Rodney Stuckey have played with the first unit. He’s not worried about his right calf, but he is being smart about it.

For the small part of practice media was allowed in, Chris Copeland ran with the first unit (Blue Team). The second unit (White Team) consisted of C.J. Watson, Solomon Hill, Damjan Rudez, Luis Scola, and Lavoy Allen. It was fun watching Copeland and Rudez guard one another.

George Hill and Stuckey have spent time switching off between the 1 and the 2. Vogel said they “looked really comfortable together,” and so far, it’s “one of the things that I’ve been excited about early on in camp.”

Hill was very short on getting time at the 2, primarily because it’s so early.

“It’s going good so far,” he said. “We still have a long way to go but right now it’s looking pretty good.”

Before gathering together at mid-court, each player had to sink 50 free throws. Following that, during individual time, George Hill and Rudez shot on one basket, Solomon Hill and Miles were on another, and C.J. Fair and Adonis Thomas were at the far end.

Tuesday, Sept. 30 (AM) — Practice No. 1

The good ol’ first day is finally here. The team went through the carwash — talking with the media, posing for various photographers, reading advertisements, signing autographs — on Monday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which was their first taste of the new season.

By Tuesday, it was time to get the show on the road. They hit the main floor of the Fieldhouse at 10 a.m. and went until about 1:10 p.m.

Pacers President Larry Bird and George Hill after Practice No. 1.

‘Hometown Hero’ George Hill was asked if the first day of camp was like the first day of school everyone can relate with.

“I wouldn’t say the first day of school because no one had a fresh outfit laid out and ironed and things like that,” he said grinning.

[George Hill says success killed them last season, wants Pacers to regain the chip on their shoulder]

Rodney Stuckey and Solomon Hill ran with the first unit, joined with the usual trio of George Hill, David West, and Roy Hibbert. The second team was comprised of C.J. Watson, Adonis Thomas, Chris Copeland, Luis Scola, and Lavoy Allen.

Offseason signee C.J. Miles, a possible candidate to start at the wing spot, sat out the portion of practice media observed, which was about 15 minutes. He sat on the bench, next to Paul George, who was wearing practice gear and had the boot back on his right foot.

Miles dealt with a strained calf in September, and head coach Frank Vogel said it was healed and fine. With it literally being the start of camp, they don’t want him to push through it and perhaps not let it fully heal. (Remember, Danny Granger had this issue last season).

Ian Mahinmi, who will be limited in the first week or two because of a shoulder injury, did conditioning work, including riding an elliptical.

The first day is about laying the foundation, beginning to install the system, setting the example, and working on conditioning. At one point during a drill coach Vogel shouted, “Get your summer legs out of you!”

The team completed their usual full-court layup drill to end practice. The goal is 82 in two minutes; they got 81.  They’ll practice again on Tuesday, however it is not open to the media.

+ I reported that Pacers VP of Player Relations Carl Daniels has hired team scout Carl Nicks as a manager in his department. Nicks, who begins his ninth season with the franchise, will travel full-time with the team and assist guys with just going about life – trying to make everything easier on them and thus the team.

“Early last year, we were a championship team, no doubt,” Nicks told me. “And then some things happened and I feel like if there was someone in the locker room with a little bit of credibility that could gauge them and see what was going on and how the guys talked about it, I think that would’ve helped us out.

+ Also, there was a shakeup at the top of the organization. Longtime employee Rick Fuson was elevated to President of Pacers Sports & Entertainment, in addition to his COO duties. Jim Morris, who had been president since 2008, moves to Vice Chairman.

+ Chris Copeland has been moved to small forward full time. More on that in an upcoming story.

+ Roy Hibbert continues to express his, and the team’s desire, to become more like San Antonio. Well, of course, but I don’t see Tim Duncan or Tony Parker coming around the corner. Simply put, they want better ball movement and more unselfish play.

One Response to Agness’ Observations: Pacers Training Camp 2014
  1. Tracking #NBARank 2014 | Hatching News
    October 20, 2014 | 10:02 pm

    […] Agness' Observations: Pacers Training Camp 2014 The second unit (White Team) consisted of C.J. Watson, Solomon Hill, Damjan Rudez, Luis Scola, and Lavoy Allen. It was fun watching Copeland and Rudez guard one another. George Hill and Stuckey have spent time switching off between the 1 and the 2. Read more on Vigilant Sports […]