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Author Topic: Great Article On Austin Daye  (Read 963 times)
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« on: September 25, 2009, 01:57:44 pm »
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Joe D got a "no reservations" endorsement of Daye from Arnie Kander
No Reservations
by Keith Langlois

The first thing Arnie Kander noticed about Austin Daye was his smarts. He’d tell him once how do to perform any of the battery of tests, drills and exercises Kander devises to gauge a player’s strength, flexibility or aptitude and Daye would soak it up, give it a go, ask for pointers and try it again.
Along the way, the Pistons strength coach was sold that no matter what the scale read or how incongruous the height-weight measurements appeared on paper – and Daye checked in at 192 pounds spread over his 6-foot-11 frame at the Chicago predraft camp – this was a basketball player with a great chance to thrive in the NBA.

“No reservations,” Kander said when I asked him about his endorsement of Daye to Joe Dumars after putting him through the paces when the Pistons brought Daye to The Palace practice facility for his predraft workout.

“I watched him on film – he never got pushed around (at Gonzaga),” Kander said. “Physically, he knows how to use his body. You see it in martial arts. Someone 150 pounds, if they know how to use their body, can produce an incredible amount of force. It’s total body strength we look at, not isolated strength. Reggie Miller probably never weighed above 200 pounds. Rip Hamilton – I won’t even tell you. But they don’t get pushed around.

“It’s a wiry strength, and that’s what we love. I love athletic strength. It’s being able to get to positions, it’s speed, it’s incredible flexibility.”

Much of what Kander told me squared with what trainer Joe Abunassar, who worked extensively with Daye in Las Vegas this summer, said last week – that Daye can and will gain strength as an evolving process, but even now he’s got unique gifts that will enable him to make a mark once he adjusts to the same things that confront all rookies, such as the speed of the game and the greater size across the board.

“People are going to be fooled,” Kander said. “They look and see a thinner guy – like Tayshaun (Prince). But he has a very angular strength. He didn’t get pushed around in college and he played against some pretty big kids. He’s got length, he’s got mobility, he’s got great flexibility. That was part of the testing. We were looking to see how he uses his length. A lot of the drills require time to do a test and his length would make it a lot easier to do it, but he had to learn to take his length and put it into the strength component in the drill, which he did great – he did very, very well.”

Much like Prince’s body doesn’t appear tremendously different than it did when he arrived in Detroit seven years ago, Kander doesn’t anticipate Daye ever developing a thick torso or muscular arms. There are no timetables or thresholds, only a conviction that Daye’s competitive streak and willingness to listen and learn will enable him to get increasingly stronger over the next several years – starting now.

In fact, Kander already sees gains from when he tested Daye back in May to now, after a summer spent in Las Vegas with Abunassar sprinkled in with visits to The Palace to continue Kander’s regimen.

“I’ve seen a huge difference in some of the things we attempted to start with,” he said. “He couldn’t really hold the position very long. Now we have to make the drills much more advanced. He picks things up so fast and he’s got a great nerve-brain-muscle connection. That’s a genetic thing. A lot of people say, how do you train to reflex? I say, hopefully they have good reflexive potential. With him, you can see it. He thinks it, it goes through his nervous system, it gets out.”

Kander isn’t looking for any quick fixes. He recalled the case of Shawn Bradley, who came to the NBA with a similar height-weight disparity on his 7-foot-7 frame out of BYU. They tried force-feeding Bradley power shakes to put weight on quickly, and “he said he was sick for like two years because of all the shakes. We don’t want him to put on 20 pounds. He’ll have all sorts of stomach distress, all sorts of issues with his body. No one would consume an extra this many calories and have to pound and run and inflame the body but also inflame the gut because you’re putting in all these things to enhance weight.

“His strength is going to come. There’s primary strength, which is me pushing and shoving you – that can’t happen in basketball. The secondary strength is me reacting at angles, being able to push and move and hold my base. We’re going to work on the secondary strength, and indirectly his primary strength will become much improved. A bench press is primary strength. Squatting – you don’t ever squat in basketball, but you do sit here and move. We’ll do work on reaction, change of direction, all the connecting muscles that make you better at that.

“By working on that during the season, you’ll automatically see a difference in the primary – the sprinting, the jumping – but as he gets better at change of direction, as he gets better at using his length, which requires angles – length is turning, pivoting, reaching – he’ll get better at all of those secondary things which we work on with every player, all season. I always think you can get better in-season. That maintenance stuff? You get better – you get better in dribbling, you get better in defense. Like Larry Brown would say, our goal every day is to get better at something.”

Kander said Daye’s performance at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, when he averaged 10.5 rebounds a game over the final four games of the schedule, reinforced what he already suspected.

“I take that as a great sign,” he said. “He’s played against big kids – most college kids are sometimes as big as NBA players because they’re just weight-room guys and it’s a different type of strength. Actually, there’s a lot more contact in college than there is in the NBA. He’s not going to get shoved around.

“Now, yes, there are some 270-pound guys who will have an advantage, but they don’t have his speed, they don’t have his length, they don’t have his agility. So he’s got some advantages over them, also. But he’s young, and young players are always at a disadvantage from the referees. Once you establish some confidence that you know what you’re doing and you know you’ve had success against this particular player, it’s a natural flow.”
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