Never is the relative quiet of college basketball's offseason more apparent than in August. Summer recruiting is over. The draft is well behind us, as are most (if not all) coaching changes and transfers. Barring scandal or surprise, this is the part of the offseason where we resort, like weary desert travelers, to quenching our thirst with the mere mirage of schedule. It's pretty rough.
It is easy assume, given the quiet landscape, that most college coaches and their teams aren't doing much. That's actually the opposite of the truth. For years, incoming freshmen have arrived on campus during their school's second summer session, jump-starting their schoolwork, participating in conditioning drills, and running with program vets in unsupervised pick-up games. Two years ago, the NCAA passed a rule that allowed players to participate in limited individual summer workouts with coaches -- no more than eight hours a week, for no more than eight (non-consecutive) weeks -- provided they were enrolled in summer school at the time. This put the entire summer in play, but it made August more important than ever -- a natural head start for freshmen, a ramp-up for upperclassmen.
All of which may or may not be helpful clarification for this rather fun video DePaul posted on YouTube Wednesday:
Watching that and not knowing any better, you could assume that DePaul basketball was merely goofing off on another slow August day. Instead, the volleyball was a reprieve, and a surprise one at that; the Blue Demons went to the beach assuming they were in for another sand-stuck conditioning regimen. Sand hurts, and trainer Mac Calloway frequently utilizes that fact to his advantage. But coach Oliver Purnell proved merciful, and let his guys enjoy a little casual competition instead. Morale surely spiked.
In that way, this video was a helpful reminder (and not just of why so many of us stick out Chicago winters -- so we can enjoy that skyline and that beach!): College hoops' August may be slow from the outside, but on campuses everywhere, it might just be the most important month of the offseason.