Practice Makes Perfect

March 11, 2011 § 17 Comments

Subheadline: Jonathan Loyd, starting guard for the University of Oregon Basketball team lets us in on what happens off the court and shares his some of his past as a player.

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From Fisher-Price hoops in his driveway to the Matthew Knight Arena, Jonathan Loyd has come a long way over the course of his basketball career. Recruited by head coach Dana Altman, Loyd is currently the starting point guard for the University of Oregon basketball team.(1) As a freshman from a family with an extensive background in basketball, Loyd brings a lot of talent to the team.

Loyd was attracted to first year Head Coach Dana Altman’s coaching style when Altman coached at Creighton University. After Altman made the move to Oregon, he started recruiting Loyd. Coming out of high school, Loyd’s long list of prospective schools included the Northwestern Wildcats, Washington State Cougars, UCLA Bruins and George Washington Colonials.(3) When asked why he chose to come to UO, Loyd refers back to his first year in high school: “When I was a freshman, Tajuan Porter and Erin Brooks lead the team to the Elite-8, and I wanted to be another short guard to do that.”

Coach Dana Altman has spent a lot of time putting together this year’s basketball team at UO. Loyd believes Altman is a great coach: “his strongest aspect is that he works really hard at his job, he is always studying film of other teams, he knows a lot of good plays and understands the game really well. He is really smart and always puts us in the best position to win.”

Since Loyd has been on the UO basketball team, he has averaged 5.1 points, 2.3 assists and 1 steal per game.  He describes his point guard position as being similar to a coach, just on the floor. Although he is a freshman, he still leads the team by putting his teammates in position and calling out plays. He takes his commitment to the team very seriously and makes sure to take good care of his body by going to sleep early, not going out very often and getting extra practice in on his down time.

The UO basketball team has been practicing hard to try to win the Pac-10. During the season, the team averages four practices a week, while during the off season, six practices a week becomes the norm. Practice usually begins with weightlifting and toning, and then it’s off to the hardwood. Although the practice may seem like any other basketball practice to the untrained eye, Loyd says the team aims its focus at defensive drills: “Defense wins championships.”

Loyd started playing basketball around the age of two. Just a few years later, he began to play with his father and brothers in games of twenty-one and two-on-two. Considering that his father played at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and his brother currently plays for Brigham Young University, Loyd had a lot to live up to.  “We would bet on who would win the game and sometimes we would bring our dad into it; it definitely made me a better basketball player because I always had to play up with them. I had some pretty hard competition compared to other kids my age,” Loyd says.

Before coming to Oregon, Loyd was on the varsity basketball team at Bishop Gorman High School for four years, leading his team to back-to-back state championships.  Because of his talent, Loyd received a variety of awards recognizing him for his abilities. He earned the Most Valuable Player recognition at the 2009 Beach Ball Classics in Myrtle Beach, was named Player of the Year in the 2009-2010 in Class 4A Boys Basketball (according to the Las Vegas Review Journal) and earned the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior. In his final year of high school, he averaged 14 points, 8.2 assists, and 3.3 steals per-game. Loyd was an all-around star, with big goals to play in college. (2)

With a new head coach and a lot of new players, the chemistry between the team took a little while to figure out. Now, however, “everyone on the team is best friends and the chemistry increases every time we step on the floor,” Loyd says. Team Captain Jay-R Stowbridge, a Senior who has played at Nebraska and Jacksonville State University, says he views John as a little brother: “We watch out for each other.  He has a great sense of humor on and off the court.  But on the court I can really see his court leadership starting to show more and more as his confidence grows.”

Loyd loves to play for UO, but it is a big transition coming from high school. The biggest difference between basketball from Bishop Gorman High and at UO is that coach Altman demands his players to play hard: “with UO basketball you have to play hard all the time or coach is going to be on you. He demands you to play hard no matter what. That’s all he asked for.” As long as his players give everything they have and leave it all on the court, coach Altman is proud.

Currently undecided in his major, Loyd says, “I just want to keep playing basketball as long as I can.” His short term goal is to be on the All Pac-10 team; long term, he wants to keep playing basketball either professionally or overseas. He hopes that the new arena and the success from Oregon’s football team will help bring some big recruits to the team. Loyd continues to say, “I think the football team’s success will really help us because it shows off our school spirit here, people just want to be a part of the college atmosphere that Eugene has.”

When asked if he believes in the saying “practice makes perfect” Loyd says, without hesitation, that he doesn’t believe in it: “Practice doesn’t make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect.  I mean if you just screw around at practice, then how can that make you a better player? Let alone a perfect player.  I believe that if you practice the way you’re supposed to you’ll get better. Repetition, that’s how you get better.”

Multimedia piece on Johnathan Loyd: UO Basketball

1. ESPN.com

2. Goducks.com

3. Rivals.yahoo.com

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