Thursday, November 1, 2007

Duke's Thomas shows energy in exhibition

Duke forward Lance Thomas spent a month in Houston last summer after a frustrating freshman season. He went through workouts overseen by John Lucas, the former NBA coach who trains NBA and college players.
Thomas banged bodies with NBA rookies Glen "Big Baby" Davis (formerly of LSU) and Sean Williams (Boston College) twice a day.

"The competition was great," Thomas said.

Last season, though he started 18 games, Thomas averaged just four points and 2.5 rebounds, with one assist and 43 turnovers. (That’s not a misprint. His assist-turnover ratio was .023).
He was often in foul trouble and not strong enough to finish inside or defend physical opposing ACC power forwards. After the season, he turned to video to figure out what went wrong.

"I watched a bunch of tape," he said, "and I was like, ‘I know I’m a better player than this.’ "

On Thursday night, he started again, this time with Kyle Singler in a light, quick post duo in Duke’s exhibition opener. He had five steals, made all six of his field goal-attempts and scored 15 points with seven rebounds in a 134-55 blowout of Shaw University.
Thomas’ quickness at 6-foot-8 makes him an asset at the top of the run-and-jump, man-to-man, full-court press Duke is using.

"Energy," coach Mike Krzyzewski said when asked what Thomas brings to the press. "Athletic ability. He’s got arms and legs that go in a lot of different directions, real fast."

Thomas said Duke’s new full-court, fast-breaking style suits his skills much better than the slow, half-court sets the Blue Devils used last season. He still will be required to defend opposing big guys in the post in the half-court, but hopes gaining 10 pounds will help him.
Battling for position against Davis and Williams for a month should help, too.

Ken Tysiac