In addition to rave reviews of Mo Sene (Yes, he goes by Mo) there is a GREAT summary if the arena situationby Frank Hughes in this mornings Tacoma News Tribune. While no new information is really brought to the forefront I think Hughes' timeline and perspective are all very well laid out.
Israeli New has a piece on Yotam Halperin (or as I like to call him Mini-Nick Collison) talking about his disappointment in not being selected in the first round and his desire to play in the NBA this season. Sonics General Manager Rick Sund joked yesterday about being swarmed by the Israeli media after selecting Halperin #53 overall on draft day and having to explain to them that he had no time to address a late second round pick until things settled down a bit. Halperin has been impressive early in camp and is getting a long look by management. It is concievable that he could make the roster as the third point guard but he will have to compete with former second round pick Patch Morliende who was extremely impressive in last nights scrimmage. Patch his every shot in the first game knocking down mid range jumpers and a smooth three pointer to lead the green squad to a win. Both Halperin and Morliende were candid in their desire to make the squad this season but both are subject to being cut by the team without having their rights relinquished as they are under contract for next season in Europe. Both players explained that contract buyouts are not a major obstacle.
Other notes from the scrimmage involve Robert Swift being generally impressive. His body language and comfort level are all significantly improved from last year and he made a number of tough shots that he simply would not have converted in years past due to timidness. I believe that Rob is a shoe-in for the starting center spot on opening night. While you're going to get rave reviews about Sene (the concensus seems to be that he looks much better than expected) Swift still has the edge. I'm working on an article about Swifty that should be up later today. When you compare his current play and demeanor to last year or his rookie year there is significant improvement just in his body mechanics. Being injury free may also play a big role in this regard.
I have commented often that 7 footers have a natural tendency towards awkwardness in their movements that is partly physical, but in my mind also could be mental to some degree. While we all wish we could get the 7 foot salary their life is filled with some obstacles in terms of the things around them simply being too small. From beds to cars, to countertops they are constantly having to make less natural movements than the rest of us and I believe that it results in a degree of self-consciousness that they have to mentally get over. Watching Robert as an 18 year old this was incredibly apperent but he seems to have worked through his teen years. He was extremely relaxed, confident, and just looked comfortable on the court. I expect a big year from him.
Mo Sene is an exception to this rule and that is the primary reason I am suddenly so optimistic about him. While his length is the most noticable attribute I was suprised by just how smooth and effortless his body movements are. Physically he has every tool you could ask for. The upside of Sene was demonstrated regularly. He completed two impressive blocks on 6'11 Jared Reiner. The first was a two handed block under the basket and the second just blew me away. Reiner recieved a pass on a breakaway layup and Sene came from behind to literally reach up and over Reiner's head and tap the ball cleanly away. His reach on that play was just awe inspiring. Second to his ease of movements were his apperent basketball instincts. On several occasions he simply got out of position or trapped into awkward situations and managed to make something out of it with creative passes or difficult shots. They were the type of moves that you cannot teach or explain, but demonstrate something pretty special. He also hid two jump-shots (the only 2 he took) from 8-12 feet out.
The positive was that he did all of this on instinct and ability. The negative is that instinct and ability are all he has. Watching his footwork compared to Swift is laughable as Robert consistently demonstrated polished and planned moves while Sene literally stumbles over his own feet. The thing is he can stumble over his own feet, get off balance, and somehow convert. Also Sene has extremely active hands, but no idea how to use them yet. When he keeps them above his head they move towards the ball like it's a magnet. When he drops them down the same rule applies and guards can easily move towards him and draw the foul. In my opinion this will be the only factor that limits his career.
Last note about Sene is that his english was better than I expected during the interview process and he seems like an extremely humble guy. When asked about his new contract he talked at some length about Senegal being a poor country and how men are just happy to have the opportunity to work. It was quite re-assuring and I don't think there are any worries that the money will change him.
Noel Felix looks like he belongs on the team. He hustles, and is impressive on offense, defense, jumpers, steals, dunks, everything. He displayed the whole package and while he may not have the tools to ever be a star player I think he can be at worst a solid practice player and likely a role player in the league. The team has an option on his contract this year and I give the nod to Felix over Devin Brown who simply holds the ball too long to fit in with this squad.
Sorry for the disorganized summary. Again very busy this morning and working on a couple of articles. I'll have lots of time in SLC to keep the updates coming.