The Court Jester – The Cream Starts to Rise
Kings training camp continued last week with two-a-days Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as the guys got in some significant work on the hardwood. Finally, on Friday, the team went to one practice per day for most of the rest of camp.
With much preparation before the first practice, which is open to the public on Sunday, the guys are learning new sets and gearing up for the preseason.
Training Camp – day three
Samuel Dalembert and Antoine Wright were available for the morning workout . . . More five-on-none as they worked on setting screens and making sure the players know where to be on some of the new sets the team has put in this year . . . Lots of guys stayed after practice today, including Beno Udrih, Dalembert, Joe Crawford, Carl and Marcus Landry, Luther Head, J.R. Giddens, Pooh Jeter, and a few others all throwing up some extra shots . . . The elder Landry has been spending a lot of time after the workouts working with the coaches on his post moves and practicing his free-throw shooting . . . Udrih helped Dalembert on shots from the stripe . . . Crawford and Jeter spent time with Mario “The Jedi” Elie working on their outside shot . . . Wright worked hard on the elliptical machine after the workout, trying to get his left quad ready for the tougher evening scrimmage.
Beyond the Inner Curtain
The following are Coach Paul Westphal’s annotations to the media:
On Pooh Jeter: He’s a standout in every way.
On Landry’s potential to play the small forward position: Probably not much time there, maybe in a zone defense. It would be pretty hard for Carl or Jason (Thompson) to guard the other three, but it’s certainly not something we are ready to focus on yet.
On Marcus Landry: Wednesday (evening) he had an outstanding of the offensive boards. Although he is still learning the pace of the game, he brings some great strengths to the table. One thing I don’t have any doubts about is that he can do high level is rebound.
On Hassan Whiteside: He’s very smooth and once in a while will come from the weak side and block a shot that nobody’s ever had blocked before in this gym.
On Whiteside needing to be patient: It’s hard for any young player to stay aggressive and have a long-term goal without some short-term gratification, but that’s his world right now and we are trying to keep him focused. He’s doing a good job of that.
On having brothers on the same team: We have to put them on different teams because they only pass it to each other (speaking jokingly on Marcus and Carl Landry).
Knights of the Hardwood
It’s not often that a new player will come into training camp and find someone he knows well. Then again, it’s not every day you get to play against your brother outside of the driveway escapades of days gone by.
That is not the case this season as the brothers Landry, Carl and the younger Marcus, have had the opportunity to challenge each other for the first time since those days in the front yard.
Carl was admittedly tough on his younger sibling during their childhood rivalry. Some days even ended in a fistfight or two. But in the Landry household, it was just part of growing up. Tough love at it’s best.
“I was always the big brother, so I felt like he was soft and weak, so I always beat up on him,” Carl said. “It always ended good.”
The elder Landry did pave the way for Marcus. Carl is two years older and had a chance to go to college first and show Marcus that not only was attending a university possible, but playing hoops was also open to him.
“He had somebody to look up to that went to college so he knew he could go,” Carl said. “I wouldn’t say I paved the way for him; I just gave him some hope. A lot of kids these days, they still know it’s a one in a million shot, but they get down on themselves and they think there is no hope. My brother has seen the light at the end of the tunnel. He saw my work ethic and he continued to work. I just tried to lead by example and be the big brother I am.”
Marcus has taken the longer road. Since having a child around the time he was getting ready for college, he decided to stay closer to his son and ended up attending Wisconsin instead of Purdue like his brother. It didn’t matter really. The brothers were always taking a different direction.
“We were always competing against each other,” the elder Landry said. “If I wanted one thing, he wanted another.”
As to what Carl sees his brother’s chance in making the Kings roster? Carl knows he has some very valuable tools that the Kings can utilize.
“He can offer defense, is a good guy on and off the court, and he’s not going to make too many mistakes,” Carl said. “He’s focused and he wants to get better. You want guys on your team that want to get better that are coming in early and staying late — guys that are not messing up in practice. He’s one of those guys. I think because he has that mindset, he’ll play in this league for a long time.”
Marcus never had a problem with looking up to his older brother. The early success Carl had wasn’t lost on Marcus. If fact, it inspired him to reach for his own personal greatness and he has a message for Carl.
“At a really young age he was somebody I looked up to,” Marcus said. “I never really tell him that, but he was playing basketball and making teams, and I said, ‘Everything he does, I want to do better.’ He’s been a good example and a good leader. It’s the way he goes about things that is keeping me focused.”
Staying focused must get a lot easier since the days of banging bodies with the more mature Carl in the front yard. Back then, there were some real battles between the two and it took a while for Marcus to realize what Carl was breaking him in for.
“Now that I look back on it, I realize he was trying to make me better instead of just teasing me,” the younger Landry said. “He would always make me go left and would never, never let me go right, so I would lose all the time. I’d be mad because he’d be laughing or throw the ball out of bounds or he’d steal it, but it made me a better player.
“It helped me because it made me realize that you better get a left hand and you better get it good quick because guys do their scouting reports. I probably recognized in my senior year of high school that what he was doing for me was probably best for me.”
As with any sibling rivalry, there are times when things went to far.
“It did end in some fights because I was mad when I lost,” Marcus said. “I remember one time when the game was on the line. He was going to shoot and I turned around to box out and he threw the ball off my head and that really got me going. Some days ended in fights, but we’re still brothers, you know.”
Marcus tried to pass the torch, at least on the punishment part, to another of the Landry children: his younger sister.
“She held her own,” Marcus said. “Things ended with some fights with her too. It was just tough family love out there on that court, but she could hold her own. We knew we couldn’t do that much since we would get in trouble when we got back in the house. We kind of had to mellow it down for her, but still gave her that tough love.”
It sounds like the entire Landry family is a family of tough, gritty and determined kids.
Marcus has decided to take the coaches’ advice and work on what they tell him do work on. Things that will help him make the roster. In his case, they have asked him to knock down shots, rebound and defend. And that’s all he is trying to do. That’s very impressive for a young guy.
This could be the year. Even his mind is coming to grips with the fact that he is good enough to help an NBA team.
“Everything is starting to come together,” Marcus said. “I think that maybe I don’t know how good I can be at this level. This is my second year and I’m just soaking it all in. My main focus is mentally, and everything else will improve. It’s my mental game of being competitive and having that killer instinct all the time.”
If he can just summon those reminders of his daily battles with his brother from the days on the concrete driveway out in front of the house, he will be just fine in his quest to join his brother in the NBA. And maybe, just maybe, even on the Kings.
Photos Courtesy of Mark Needham
#1 Omri Casspi
#2 Carl Landry
#3 Antoine Wright
#4 Connor Acthley
#5 Casspi, Atchely & Coach Carril
#6 Luther Head
#7 Jason Thompson
#8 Carl Landry
#9 Casspi & Achtley
#10 Gavin Maloof w/ Pooh Jeter
#11 Marcus Landry
#12 DeMarcus Cousins
#13 Marcus Landry's towel