I enjoyed reading Nathan's post giving a recap of the Capital Classic. To avoid overkill/overlap on a most enjoyable game and festivities that the Terps fans in attendance shared Saturday evening, I will give a quick echo of Nathan's sentiments he shared with us, and now give the down and dirty view from the bench -.Strengths AND Weaknesses from my point of view that night, keeping in mind it was only an exhibition game...my view from row 2 behind the US All-Stars bench:
Big to Small:
1) Damonte - Yes Damonte. Damonte was "clearely" taller than Shaq, looking a solid 6'9," maybe pushing 6'10". He is a little bit knock kneed, his growth spurt leaving an impression on me of him being the newborn giraffe getting its legs under them.
Damonte is definitely raw in the areas of footwork and positioning. He will need to learn how to use his body positioning better against guards driving the lane. In the Classic, the District team guards played with something to prove, as most were undecided/no big offers. They drew fouls from Damonte, taking advantage of his aggression. The positive coming from his defense is that he was - yes, aggressive. 5 fouls by 3rd period; however, with some learned skills from the MD coaches, Damonte has the opportunity, and imho, ability, to lift his game. Dodd had quick elevation on block attempts, and his vertical was impressive. Dodd's FT form looked decent, and I would estimate his shooting will be limited to about 6-8 feet from the basket at this point in time. I will project this out a bit - Dodd's offense will be very limited in ACC play, even if he redshirts. I want to hear what comes back from the DCA games and a review of his outside shooting, if any. I have the feeling we'll be pleased with his progress in a couple of years if he puts in the work - the staff was on to something. I did not see it in the videos, but in person, I like Damonte's demeanor.
2) Can U Dig Him? A resounding YES!!! Shaq is huge. I'd estimate Shaq at 6'8" - but it was impressive watching all 280 lbs of Shaq roaming the paint. I could not believe I was watching a player who has played basketball for 4 years. Shaq has quick ups as well (w/o a big vertical), changing quite a few shots while he was in the game. However, opponents in the post that are quicker than Shaq may give him trouble if he doesn't counter by using his body to keep them further out than they'd like. What impressed me on defense the most was Shaq's ability to recognize when to fake as if he was going to attempt to block a shot, but then turn and quickly hit the glass. His judgement on defense seemed solid in my book.
Shaq's definitely needs to work on conditioning. He paced himself a few times running the floor during this wide open exhibition (which was smart). I expect Shaq to drop about 15 to 20 lbs over the summer into the fall, and be a "svelte" & legit 260 lbs by the start of the season. I can see some quick players giving him some trouble when they go to the hole early on in the season for our tough OOC games, but the impressive court sense I witnessed tells me he will adjust quite well.
Shaq is adroit at securing the ball and shooting soft shots in close. Shaq's pivoting was very good on the few drop steps I saw, and no one is going to move him out of his post position. With some more training on full use of his size, I think Shaq will give opposing centers serious head aches by ACC play next season - he is ready to roll. Easy going dude, but on the court, Shaq (Shaft) is one bad mutha - shut my mouth!
More to come....