- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
DURAND SCOTT WILL REMEMBER THE 2011 OFF-SEASON AS THE WALL SIT SUMMER. The wall sit is a common conditioning drill during which the participant stands against a wall and then slowly lowers his body until his knees form a 90-degree angle. He must sit in this invisible chair for as long as he can. It is murder on the quads.
For several weeks last summer Scott, a New York City native, trained about 40 miles north at a gym in Peekskill, N.Y. His days were filled with wall sits and other drills designed to fix the one glaring weakness in his game: ball handling.
"I'm a big point guard [6' 4"], and last season I wouldn't get low enough, and guys could get under me and steal the ball," says Scott. "I worked on my whole game this summer, but most of all I worked on improving that one area."
If Scott's work pays off, he is poised to take a leap that could land Miami in the NCAA tournament for the first time in four seasons and land Scott in next summer's NBA draft. A skilled scorer, Scott hit a ceiling of sorts last season, as did his team. He scored with great efficiency (44.5% from the field, 39.1% on three-pointers), but he also turned the ball over far too often (100 for the season, including 10 in a game against Georgia Tech). When new coach Jim Larranaga arrived from George Mason, he had only to watch a few hours of film to see that taking care of the ball was at the top of Scott's, and the team's, to-do list.
"It was something I knew and also something Coach told me when he came in," says Scott. "So, I tried to do something about it."
Scott trained in Peekskill for several weeks, and it speaks to his dedication that he didn't regularly venture back to New York City to visit friends and family. Other than a few days in June around the NBA draft, when he celebrated with friend and former UConn guard Kemba Walker, Scott bunkered down in Peekskill working out with a trainer recommended by his AAU coach.
In addition to those wall sits, the trainer put Scott through drills in which he was forced to dribble low and move up the court while his trainer pushed against him. In another exercise Scott had to dribble while players grabbed his arms and legs. "I left with a lot more confidence in my ball handling," he says. "Decision-making will come with playing more and watching film, but I know I am better prepared now to handle the ball like I need to."
Scott's choice of Miami three years ago was a surprise, as he picked the school over UConn, UCLA and other top programs. He liked coach Frank Haith, and naturally he was disappointed when Haith bolted for Missouri last April. "But then [Larranaga] came in, and he's also from New York, and he connected with us and made us feel comfortable, and you see that he has some great ideas and expectations," Scott says.
One of Larranaga's expectations is that Scott will team with senior Malcolm Grant to form one of the best backcourts in the country. "They are both very experienced scorers and have provided great leadership for us during the transition," the coach says. Adds Scott, "Malcolm and I, we see that we aren't mentioned as one of the top backcourts, and we take offense to that. Especially after the summer I've had, I have so much confidence in myself and my team. We are going to open some eyes."