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March 28, 2006

McDonald's third practice breakdown

Two different teams and two different styles of practice punctuated the last day of practice before the McDonald's All Star game. The East squad only shot and worked 5 on 0. The West squad, however, continued to fine tune their transition game and had a long session of competitive scrimmaging. Local product Chase Budinger turned in another stellar performance during the West practice.

Coming off a disappointing loss in last night's dunk contest after bringing the house down with two spectacular dunks in the preliminary round, Budinger did a little bit of everything in Tuesday's practice. He came up with steals and rebounds, handled the ball well in the open court with his eyes ever searching for the open man and finished both around the basket and from deep.

In fact, Budinger's style of play is representative of the West squad as a whole. They have a team that runs the floor and keeps the floor spread, has wings and forwards along with the guards that are looking to pass the ball and pass it well and has a number of players that can shoot off the pass with range.

The East squad, however, is more of a dribble first, one on one oriented team with forwards and post players that in general do their damage around the basket.

Now, it is difficult to judge how practice will translate into the actual all star game. But if the last three days are an indication of what is to come on Wednesday night, look for the West to push the tempo and shoot a lot of threes in transition. When the defense fans out to the arc, Sherron Collins will attack the basket with his speed and power. In the half court, the West will sread the floor and try to get Greg Oden and Brandan Wright, the dynamic shot blockers of the East, away from the basket.

Certainly, the East guards, led by Tywon Lawson, Javaris Crittenton and Wayne Ellington will push the tempo. But the skill set of the East forward will have the attack focused on getting to the rim more than shooting the three. Also, in the half court the East will attack the lane with dribble penetration with the big men ready to clean up the boards.

Budinger was not the only stand out during the West's scrimmage. Kevin Durant continued to display his offensive abilities while also being more aggressive on the boards.

Spencer Hawes and Brook Lopez both had productive days on the low block. Along with scoring on an array of nifty post moves, Hawes is always ready to hit a cutter to the basket with a quick dump off pass.

Lopez started off slow here in San Diego, but over the past two days, he has gradually played with more passion and precision. He had some very nice finishes around the basket and a quite unfriendly dunk over his brother Robin Lopez, who spent much of the practice swatting away shots in the paint.

Also waking up for the West was Daequan Cook. On a couple occasions he niftily executed the wing ball screen to get into the lane. He also passed the ball well and fired in some long range shots.

The engine for the West Sherron Collins had another outstanding practice in both continuing to push the ball while also taking care of it. One of his best plays of the practice was a powerful left hand drive into traffic which he finished of with a feathery floater.

Hold your horses:

Oklahoma signee Scottie Reynolds commented to Rivals.com about the reported move of Kelvin Sampson to Indiana.

"That is the rumor," said Reynolds. "If it actually happens, I'll have to take everything into consideration about what I should do. As of now, he is still at Oklahoma with a great recruiting class coming in. But we will have to wait and see. I just don't know."

Although Reynolds is playing it close to the vest, it would not be a surprise if he did follow Sampson to a new destination.


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