Germany’s status uncertain with full practices looming next week

Though UTSA center Jacob Germany was on the court and dressed out in his uniform for team pictures on Thursday afternoon, he was not on the floor for a workout later in the day.

He was on the sideline, seated at the scorer’s table, as the Roadrunners went through one of their final abbreviated practices before expanded-session, preseason drills commence on Monday.

Jacob Germany. UTSA men's basketball beat Rice 82-71 on Saturday, March 5, 2022, at the Convocation Center in the Roadrunners' final game of the regular season. The Conference USA Tournament starts Tuesday. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jacob Germany averaged 15.3 points per game and shot 48.8 percent from the field last season. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson declined to elaborate on the nature of Germany’s setback or how long he might be out. The coach said he’d know more in coming days.

“He’s seeing the doctor tomorrow,” the coach said. “I don’t know if I’m at liberty to talk about what it is … I don’t know if he was out Monday? But he was definitely out Tuesday and today. He’s going to see the doctor tomorrow morning.

“Hopefully we’ll know by tomorrow afternoon whether he’s good to go on Monday.”

Germany, a senior, is the pillar around which the Roadrunners hope to rebuild in the wake of a 10-22 record a year ago.

Last season, the 6-foot-11 post from Oklahoma led the Roadrunners with 15.3 points on 48.8 percent shooting from the field. He also averaged 7.2 rebounds.

Despite the situation with Germany, Henson said he feels like the team has made good progress through the summer and the early fall workouts.

“Really good,” he said. “The fall felt a lot like the summer did. We want a new-ness. We want a freshness on Monday. They know that it gets a lot more real. It’s longer and more intense on Monday.

“But to this point, I’ve loved their focus, their energy, their eagerness to play the right way. It’s just been very refereshing. This group likes being around each other. They like spending time together. They like spending time together in the gym.

“It’s a fun group to be around every day.”

Full-session workouts

Since the first of June, the Roadrunners have been limited to eight hours a week, which has broken down to about four in the weight room and four on the floor. It’s also been that way for the past four weeks to start the fall semester.

On Monday, the allowable workload will increase to 20 hours a week, inclusive of weights, meetings, film sessions and practices. As a result, the Roadrunners will enter a phase next week in which they will hold 30 workouts over a 42-day stretch.

Game preparation

UTSA will host an exhibition game against Schreiner on Nov. 2. The regular-season opener follows on Nov. 7 at home against Trinity. UTSA will play a 31-game schedule, including 18 at home.

Sharing the ball

UTSA’s workout on Thursday afternoon featured some crisp passing. The ball moved well from the top, to the baseline, to the post and back out to the perimeter.

UTSA men's basketball player Japhet Medor at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

Florida native Japhet Medor is expected to play a major role for the Roadrunners at point guard. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Newcomer Japhet Medor initiated plays from the point guard position with precision. Christian Tucker also enjoyed a good day at the point. Medor, Tucker and veteran Erik Czumbel are expected to play the point this season.

Ball movement and shot selection will be critical to the team’s success.

“We’ve got several guys that can make plays,” Henson said. “But we’ve got willing passers. That’s a big part of it. With certain lineups, our spacing is pretty good. Some of those lineups, we’ve got multiple shooters out there.”

“Yeah, the ball movement has been good. About the only time it’s not is when the defense is keeping us from doing it. They want to move the ball. Japhet can set the table with that. He’s got the quickness to get in there and attract people.

“He’s capable of scoring a lot, but he’s a pass-first guy. (When) the point guard comes in with that mindset, it helps everybody.”

Newcomer John Buggs III is almost like a playmaker himself but, as a long-distance shooting specialist, he will play on the wing.

“We picture Japhet, Christian and Erik initiating the offense,” Henson said. “Now, you’re right. I love when we enter it to Buggs and let him make some plays. (Freshman) DJ (Richards) is a little more of a playmaker, too.”

“We need Buggs and we need DJ as three-point shooters, but they both have a good feel for (distributing). Buggs, coming off his knee injury (from last year, at Hill College), his explosiveness and quickness just continues to get better.

“He was that type of player in high school, where he could do some things off the dribble. His body is looking good. He’s getting quicker and more explosive.”

Camp standouts

Asked to point out players who have elevated their performances in the past week, Henson mentioned sophomores Lamin Sabally and Josh Farmer and senior Aleu Aleu.

“Lamin had three great practices in a row,” Henson said. “He was really good on (the final workout last week) and Monday and Tuesday. Josh has had his best stretch the last couple of weeks. And Aleu. Aleu’s been out with injury and some sickess, as well. But Tuesday and today, he was really good.

Lamin Sabally. UTSA men's basketball beat Rice 82-71 on Saturday, March 5, 2022, at the Convocation Center in the Roadrunners' final game of the regular season. The Conference USA Tournament starts Tuesday. - photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore forward Lamin Sabally is pushing for an expanded role after averaging 12.3 minutes in 21 games last season. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“He hopped in and defensively was really getting after it. He was attacking. I’d say those three in recent days have been very good.”

Germany said last week that he thinks Farmer, a 6-9 sophomore, might have made the most improvement of any returning player from last year. Henson wouldn’t disagree.

“He had a very good summer,” Henson said. “He’s figuring out, he’s been figuring out what to eliminate. That’s been a big thing for him. You know, eliminate this play. Eliminate that pass. Eliminate that shot. That in itself has helped him, and he’s gotten better at his strengths.

“He’s handling the ball better. He’s cleaner with the ball. Making simpler plays. You saw today, his athleticism and quickness … defensively, he’s flying around. Yeah, that’s fair to say, as far as the returners, he’s done a heck of a job.”

Injury updates

Seven-foot center Carlton Linguard, Jr., a junior transfer from Kansas State, is rehabilitating a knee injury and has some work to do to get himself fit enough to practice. Henson hasn’t put a timeline on when he can join the team on the practice floor.

Even then, Linguard also has some hurdles to clear on academics before he can play in a game, and the earliest he could play likely would be in the second semester. Linguard is attending practices, though the former Stevens High School standout has been limited to light shooting on his own and conditioning.

Aleu suffered a right knee injury last January and, consequently, was brought along slowly in the summer session workouts. By the end of August, he was cleared for contact as the team prepared to enter the fall semester.

Also about that time, freshman guard DJ Richards had his tonsils removed, but he is OK now. Both Aleu and Richards seem to be full strength now.

Spurs executive on campus

Henson met Thursday with longtime Spurs front office executive Joe Clark, who is the local NBA franchise’s vice president of youth sports and community engagement. Clark has been with the Spurs since 1985, according to the team’s website.

Asked if he’s collaborating with Clark on a youth sports project, Henson said, “We talked about a whole bunch of topics. How we can partner together a little bit. I think there’s some potential to do some things that would help both of us a lot. So, we’re excited about that.”

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