Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A winning formula: Early to bed, early to rise

You need to be an early riser if you’re going to play basketball for James Green.

The new Jacksonville State basketball coach has his troops up-and-at-‘em for practice at 5:30.


What can the Gamecocks possibly get done at the crack of dawn that they can’t get done at a more traditional practice time late in the afternoon? A lot, Green says.

“A good keen focus, discipline,” Green said. “When we wake up, we’ve got basketball on our mind. We don’t have that ‘we’ve had a bad day’ (attitude). Things come up during the day that distract us. Not that we can’t come to practice and do a good job (in the afternoon), but I think we’re so clear.

“I think it sets the tone for what we’re going to be about in terms of work and commitment. I think when you’ve got a group of guys who’ll make a commitment to get up in the morning to come in and really go to work, I think when they have some tough moments during the season or within a game, they’ll have something to reflect back on in terms of what they put into it and they’re not going to easily just lay down because of that.”

A lot of teams do the early-morning thing when they have two-a-days early in the season, but Green — taking a page from former Temple coach John Chaney — carries it on throughout the year. He’s done it everywhere he’s been.

Within reason, of course. He won't call a practice early after the team gets home late from a game or the coaches get in late from recruiting. Weekend workouts are usually 7 or 8 a.m. The Gamecocks practiced at 12:30 p.m. Saturday after returning from their season-opening loss at South Carolina Friday night.

“When we first started it, we had conflicts with practice times and I’d rather be consistent with our time,” Green said. “Then we figured out it worked well with guys being up and being ready for class.

“It gives them an opportunity to do some things that normal students do in the afternoon. And it gets them in the bed at night. Sometimes it takes a while for them to realize I need to go to bed around 9 o’clock in order to get up and do this in a professional-like way.”

Green said he hasn’t had any resistance from the players about the early-morning regimen. But then, he’s not the type to put up with any, either.

“Preseason, when he had to get up, no balls, just running and conditioning the whole thing (was tough),” freshman forward Brandon Crawford said, “but 5:30’s not bad any more.

“We’re getting more into the flow of things, so it’s making it easier on us. Instead of coming out and struggling with it, we’re getting used to it. Everything is getting to be second nature.”

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