NORMAL — The college basketball season just got longer with teams allowed to start official practice in late September.
Illinois State coach Dan Muller is well aware of that.
So, when the Redbirds hold their first practice at 7 a.m. Monday, Muller will be thinking about the effect of the earlier start for later in the season.
“I don’t think we go can for 2½ hours every day (before the first game) and be OK,” he said. “They may be OK in November and December, but I think in January and February we would be worn down.”
New NCAA rules allow teams to practice 42 days before their opening game instead of starting around the second Friday in October. However, teams must take off 12 days in that stretch.
Muller could have started practice Friday, but decided to wait three more days. Thus, the Redbirds will have to take nine days off practice before beginning the season Nov. 8 at Virginia Commonwealth. Teams are allowed to practice 20 hours per week with at least one day off.
A normal ISU practice lasts 2½ hours. Muller anticipates doing some shorter sessions, maybe twice a day as will happen today with an afternoon practice, along with “some walkthrough stuff and some ‘practice’ days where we meet and lift,” along with a large number of regular 2½-hour sessions.
“If this was three weeks before our first game I would be thinking we have to put our offense in completely,” said Muller. “This (earlier start) does give me some flexibility.”
ISU, coming off an 18-15 season, will be one of the least experienced teams in the country. The Redbirds have only two players with Division I experience — sophomore guards Nick Zeisloft and Kaza Keane — along with five junior college transfers and four freshmen. Junior center John Jones has practiced the last two years, but didn’t play in games as the NCAA sorted out his eligibility.
Muller and his staff were able to hold individual workouts for two hours per week in the summer and when classes began in August.
“I have a good feel (for the players), but until we practice every day and you can see guys respond to constant daily expectations you don’t really know,” said Muller, who is beginning his second year as coach of his alma mater. “Bodies wear down a little bit, and there’s the mental and physical fatigue. We have our general principles, really defensively for sure, and some basic offensive principles. I’m still waiting to see what they can show me.”
Muller said it would be at last three to four weeks before he begins to define certain roles for players.
“Guys have shown me some things in workouts,” he said. “But to start telling guys this is what you need to do for sure, it’s a long time before our first game.”
The status of junior point guard Daishon Knight, who was indefinitely suspended for violation of a team rule by Muller last week, remains unclear.
Knight, a junior college transfer, was arraigned on one count of aggravated battery in a public place and one count of resisting a police officer for an incident in downtown Bloomington in late August. A status hearing will be held Friday in McLean County Circuit Court.
“I cannot speak about Daishon at all currently. Indefinitely suspended is where he’s at right now,” said Muller. “Hopefully certain things are settled and I’ll certainly talk about it.”