Now that the new guy is here, the Utah Jazz should be even more dangerous than ever. We're not talking about Jeff Malone. We're talking about Dr. Keith Henschen.
In their ongoing effort to gain an edge on the competition, the Jazz have employed noted University of Utah sports psychologist Dr. Keith Henschen. Henschen has been working for several years with the Utes, helping them deal with the formidable mental aspects major college football and basketball.Now he's planning to assist the Jazz, who must get mentally ready for 82 regular season games, not to mention pre- and post-season appearances.
Though he has never worked with pro basketball teams before, Henschen says he has spent time with numerous world class track and field athletes. He says there are some differences between college and pro orworld class athletes.
"The biggest difference is that the world class athletes really want to be the best. Therefore, they're open to a lot of things (suggestions). Any world class athlete feels a need to have an edge to stay there," says Henschen.
Contrary to popular belief that pro athletes don't feel anyone can help them, and that they don't get serious until the season starts, Henschen says they are "the most receptive when it comes to looking for ways to make themselves better.
"They realize this is their jobs and they have to be good at what they do," he adds.
Henschen says stress is higher on the pro level, but "most learn to deal with in a much better fashion (than college athletes). They're much more realistic. If they don't have it (realism) coming in, they will have it very quickly."
The gym was silent of bouncing balls for the first half-hour of Tuesday morning's session at Westminster College. The coaching staff huddled with players in front of a television monitor and the VCR to show examples of what consititutes the various types of fouls under newer, broader rule interpretations. This year, a flagrant foul that could produce injury can - at an official's discretion - result in a penalty of two free throws, possession of the ball and ejection of the offending player.
Said Coach Jerry Sloan to his players, "We don't want dirty play. We just want to play clean, hard basketball. There's no place for that other stuff."
Fifth-year pro Mike Brown says he knows what the rookies are going through this week. After spending four or five years in a college program where the system is spoon fed to them, they find have just over a week to learn things, then go to work in exhibition games.
"The big difference was in college you have six weeks to prepare. In the NBA you have 5-7 (exhibition) games. College there's much more of a teaching process. In the NBA they throw it all at you, more or less, and then it's time to play," says Brown.
"The other difference is the intensity. I didn't think players at this level worked as hard as they do in the preseason."
One of the serious contenders for the 12th spot on the team is Minnesota's Melvin Newbern. Newbern, a 6-4 guard, can play both the one or two guard position, but spent most of his time at the point. If the Jazz are looking for more rest time for John Stockton, Newbern could help matters considerably as the third point guard behind Stockton and Delaney Rudd.
Newbern missed the summer league due to hernia-related complications, but has come back to play well in the fall. "I feel real good, but I've got a lot to learn," says Newbern. "All the other players have helped me out a lot."
Jeff Malone says he likes nearly everything about his move to Salt Lake. Referring to the city, he says, "I love it here." Referring to playing with the likes of Mark Eaton, Thurl Bailey, Karl Malone, Blue Edwards and John Stockton, he says, well, he loves that, too.
"In Washington we didn't run that much," he says. "Here, you get the rebound, and you get out and you run. I like getting out and running. But that part is taking some getting used to. We have a lot of big guys and I look at them and say, 'These guys are really moving!"'
Rookie forward Walter Palmer didn't play in Tuesday night's scrimmage due to illness.