Friday's opening practice for the Middle Tennessee men's basketball team featured a relatively reserved head coach Kermit Davis as he sought to let his veteran leaders set the tone for the official opening of the preseason.
Davis has dialed his own intensity level back up the last two days though after being disappointed with the way the team went through its weekend workouts.
"It really is unexpected," Davis said after Sunday's practice. "I've been disappointed by our returning guys' leadership. We came out the first day and had maybe the best practice we've had since I've been here. With the new guys it's expected (that they will need an adjustment period) but they have hit a wall a lot earlier than I ever thought. We've got a lot of work to do so we're going to have to step back a bit and get back to some real basics."
Davis is trying to balance a roster that has plenty of returning experience with a group of talented newcomers that are trying to find their niche on a veteran squad.
But he's been disappointed the last two days with what he feels have been pretty sloppy and undisciplined practices, and that extends from the new arrivals to the experienced upperclassmen.
"We can't progress our older guys like I would have liked so we're going to have to step back and get back into the nuts and bolts. I'm teaching older guys too many things defensively that they should know after being here two or three years."
Middle Tennessee has been practicing without senior post player Theryn Hudson as well as preseason Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Desmond Yates.
Yates is healing a hamstring strain while Hudson is moving into the final stages of recovery from foot surgery several weeks ago.
The good news is that Hudson is now without his walking boot and is about to enter another stage of rehab.
"He's had (the boot) off for about three days," Davis said of Hudson. "He's still got a lot of soreness but he is progressing at a good rate. He is in his sixth week and the doctor said it would be about six to eight weeks and it looks like it's going to go to the eight weeks.
"I think he is going to do some pool work for the first time tomorrow. I'm a little worried about his pool work because he doesn't swim. I hope (athletic trainer Drew Shea) keeps him in the shallow end, but he's going to try to get him some pool work."
Without two of their best and most experienced players, it's been difficult to establish a rhythm on the practice floor.
"We miss (Hudson). Our practice was really bad today and we miss him. We miss Boogie (also). It's such a big part of our team. We need to get Desmond back out when he's healthy because we're having to depend too much on Montarrio Haddock and Josh Jones who just aren't ready right now to have those kinds of roles in practice.
"We're going to be safe. If we had to play a game today, maybe Desmond could go. We just want to make sure he is fully 100 percent when he gets going. It's been about two weeks for Boogie now so it's going to take him some adjustment to get back and going."
The Blue Raiders return to the practice floor Monday and will play their first exhibition game November 1st against Cumberland University.