The Heat opened training camp on Tuesday with the regular season a little less than a month away.
The theme at media day was that last year's apathetic attitude toward the regular season is no more. Players and coaches all spoke of having a new attitude heading into this season. Riley claims almost the whole roster has come to camp meeting their conditioning standards (compared to only half the players last year). Michael Wallace wrote that most players actually showed up to camp a week early to play pickup ball and work out (most of the time, players stay away from "Camp Riley" for as long as possible).
Some notes about the first week of training camp -
- Shaq isn't joining UFC. But he HAS spent part of his summer learning mixed martial arts, among other things. Supposedly, he passed his conditioning tests with flying colors.
With Wade out for the start of the season, it's more important than ever for Shaq to get out to a fast start and carry this thin roster.
- Dorell Wright got a chance to start at small forward last year, and at times he showed great potential with his freakish athleticism. However, he was eventually benched "because he was immature.", according to Riley. It's also been revealed that he failed to meet the team's conditioning standards during the season.
It seems that the path has been cleared for him to get another chance this year. With Posey, Kapono, and Jones now gone, Dorell appears to be the best option to start at small forward.
Riley even tried to put a happy face on the team's failure to add new wing players, claiming that the team avoided adding "specialists" at the SF position to give Dorell every opportunity to earn regular playing time.
The kid has been a four year project. Is he finally ready to become a legit player? Antoine, Penny, and untested Jeremy Richardson are the only other options at SF..... so for our sake, he'd better be ready.
- Riley made a statement by banning Antoine, Smush, and Earl Barron from practice for one day for failing to meet conditioning standards.
- The team held a public scrimmage on Friday night. Ira Winderman blogs that Penny Hardaway didn't have a very good showing. Udonis Haslem looked great, though.
- The Heat opens the pre-season tomorrow night in Detroit. Shaq, Wade, Zo, and Penny didn't make the trip.