McALLEN — Provided the McAllen nightlife doesn’t serve as a distraction, Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale expects to have a very productive — if not, exhausting — stay in the Rio Grande Valley, where the team will open training camp for the 2012-13 season.
The Rockets arrived Monday in McAllen, and today they begin a weeklong stay in the Valley, known as “Rocket Launch,” with four days of practice at the McAllen Convention Center and one at the UTPA Field House in Edinburg. The Rockets will resume practice next week in Houston but will return Oct. 10 for its preseason opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder at State Farm Arena in Hidalgo.
“I keep on telling the guys not to go out at night down there and to just go to sleep,” McHale said Monday at the Rockets’ media day in Houston before the team flew to the Valley. “Hopefully we’ll work them hard enough to where they want to go to sleep.”
OK. He was mostly joking, but it underscores the importance of this year’s camp for the Rockets. Outside of the high-profile signing of free-agent point guard Jeremy Lin, the offseason was largely considered a bust for the Rockets. And in what is considered to be San Antonio Spurs territory, Houston’s roster is filled with names with which only the most fervent Rockets fans would be familiar.
Greg Smith and Marcus Morris might the most well-known to Valley fans. Both played with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets’ NBA Development League affiliate, last season. Patrick Patterson is also a former Vipers player.
Rockets assistant coach Chris Finch returns to the Valley 2 1/2 years after leading the Vipers to the NBA D-League championship. Finch coached the Vipers for two seasons and moved up to the Rockets last year.
It’s certainly different than 2010, when the Rockets were last in the Valley. Yao Ming was attempting a comeback and the team was anchored with veterans like Shane Battier.
This year, it’s pretty much Jeremy Lin and the guys. The Rockets are young, and they will need to develop chemistry quickly if they want to compete in a Western Conference that has been bolstered with the arrival of Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Valley will be where the Rockets begin to develop that chemistry.
“I think it’s good for a young team, for a bunch of young guys to get down there and get away and focus on hard work,” McHale said of beginning training camp in the Valley. “And then it will be good to get back here and get back into a routine of going to the Toyota Center to practice, and you are in your own facility and your own weight room … It will be nice to be in a place where we are just going to work.”
The Rockets will focus on practice at the beginning of the week. They will hold practice twice per day from today through Friday at the McAllen Convention Center. Those practices are closed to the public. The Rockets will have an open practice from noon to 2 p.m. at the UTPA Field House. Admission to the practice is free.
Lin and Chandler Parsons will sign autographs from 2 to 3 p.m. Friday at Lone Star National Bank at 520 E. Nolana in McAllen. Non-perishable food items will be collected then for the RGV Food Bank.
There will also be a schmooze-fest with the Rockets players and coaching staff at the home of the Vipers principal owner Alonzo Cantu on Thursday. The cost for admission to that is $200.
But McHale reiterated Monday the importance of training camp and how it will begin the getting-to-know-you process.
“Bottom line is, we are looking for magic in the bottle, where all of the sudden these guys fit and they play well together, and where their talents and skills fit in together,” McHale said. “There are a lot of questions. I’m hoping in 28 days we’ve got enough chemistry that we can do what we’ve got to do, and that’s win games.”
David Hinojosa covers the Rio Grande Valley Vipers for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4442 or via email at email@example.com.
Parrao ties for seventh at ORU Shootout
TULSA, Okla. – University of Texas-Pan American Broncs women’s golfer and Edinburg native Samantha Parrao is tied for seventh, six strokes back of the leader, after the first two rounds of the ORU Shootout on Monday at Meadowbrook Country Club.
Parrao shot a 77 in the first round and followed that with a 75 in the second round to place her in a tie with Drake’s Danielle Brooks (152). Parrao is one stroke back of Drake’s Hadley Jennings and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Vanessa Johnson, two strokes back of Arkansas State’s Abigail Laker, three strokes behind McLennan Community College’s Rachael McQueen, four strokes back of Sam Houston State’s Shelby Hardy and five strokes behind Lamar’s Julie Aime.
As a team, the Broncs shot a 318 in the first round and a 325 in the second round, putting them 13th with a 643, nine strokes back of 11th place Drake and McLennan Community College.
Two other Broncs saw improvement from the first round to the second round, as Sarah Kothny and Blake Peterson each shaved a stroke off their scores. Kothny is tied for 32nd with a 159 (80, 79), and Peterson is tied for 58th with a 167 (84, 83).
The Broncs compete in the final round of the tournament at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
-- UTPA Services
Broncs sweep GWC volleyball awards
EDINBURG – The University of Texas-Pan American volleyball team announced Monday that seniors Sarah Davis and Juri Franzen are the Great West Conference offensive and defensive players of the week for their efforts in road wins over Texas Southern and NJIT.
A 6-0 middle blocker out of Murrieta, Calif., Davis set new season highs in hitting percentage in back-to-back matches. She hit .556 on 12 kills with two errors in 18 attacks in a 3-1 win at Texas Southern on Thursday, and then .579 on 12 kills with just one error in 19 attacks in a 3-1 win to open conference play at NJIT on Saturday. Overall, Davis hit .568 during the week.
A 5-7 libero out of Honolulu, Franzen recorded 39 digs, averaging 4.9 per set, during the two victories. She had 19 digs at Texas Southern and 20 at NJIT.
After going 2-0 last week, the Broncs are a five-match winning streak, their longest since Oct. 25 through Nov. 10, 2003. The Broncs go for their sixth straight victory for the first time since winning seven in a row from Sept. 12 through 26, 2003, when they return to the UTPA Field House to play host to defending Great West Conference regular season champion and preseason favorite Utah Valley at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
-- UTPA Services