In previous years, tonight would have marked the start of "official" practice for the UALR Trojans. Instead, tonight will be the ninth "official" practice as the Trojans prepare for their season opener one month from today against North Florida.
How has it gone so far?
"I'm really encouraged," UALR Coach Steve Shields told Burn The Horse Friday morning.
UALR got a little bit of a head start to the season over the summer with 10 official practices and a three-game trip to Canada. That carried over into fall individual and small group workouts and into official practice.
Shields is obviously encouraged about the potential ability of his team. But it seems like he's most excited about their togetherness and the way they talk on the court. Some of that comes from added maturity. Some of it comes from the addition of junior college point guards J.T. Thomas and Devonte Smith.
Shields said both Thomas and Smith have "team first approaches" and foster communication among the players on the court, something that at times lacked last season.
"There were times last year that we didn't have that energy. It really helps in practices," Shields said.