When the ten minutes counted down, official practice began. We started off with regular drills any team would do then transitioned into games. Full court sprints were added in to get our conditioning up.
After about four hours of games, drills, sprints and free throws, practice finally ended. I was exhausted, but I survived and didn’t quit. Yes, I got beat down, embarrassed, and man-handled, but I stuck with it. Honestly, I didn’t know how I was going to practice like this day after day, but I just told myself to take it one practice at a time.
If I was going to survive the season, I needed to improve quickly. The only way I knew how to do that was to work harder than everyone else. Once we got our practice schedule, that’s when I started to put the extra work in. If we had individual workouts at 7:30 AM, I got to the gym at 7:00 and shot for thirty minutes. Initially, I was working out at night time after everybody went home. When I told Rick, he said that was the dumbest thing I could do.
He said, “Look man, if nobody sees you work out, it’s like it never happened. Make everybody know that you’re putting in the extra time.”
I loved shooting at night but if I wanted to look good, I’d have to start working out when the coaches could see it. This was called the political game and these were the rules. If an assistant coach saw me doing sprints by myself at 6:30 AM when there was no workout that morning, it would look very good for me.
Thinking it would help, that’s what I did. When I went to the gym, I made sure there was at least one assistant coach able to see me workout, since their offices overlooked the court. When I did ball handling drills, I made sure to pound the balls extra hard so they all knew I was in the gym.