Sept. 2, 2010
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By Doug Richards
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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - During a drill at a recent individual workout session inside the UCF Practice Facility, Tom Herzog set a screen at the free-throw line, and then sprinted towards the basket. The 7-footer then grabbed a bounce pass and quickly brought the ball up for an impressive two-handed dunk.
The agility and athleticism that the senior transfer from Michigan State exhibited on the play drew oohs and aahs from several teammates, who were also working out inside the gym.
Herzog, who appeared in 44 career games with the Spartans before moving to UCF this summer to pursue a master's degree, has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the offseason for the Knights. New head coach Donnie Jones and his staff were expecting a post player with maturity and a high basketball IQ, but they have also received a big man who is deceivingly quick and mobile.
Herzog says that he is used to people questioning his athletic ability.
"I am pretty athletic, especially for a 7-footer," he said. "I don't think a lot of people really see that when I walk in. I am pretty athletic."
His new teammates saw that athleticism over the summer in pickup games where Herzog would often beat guards down the floor, and are continuing to see his talent during the individual workouts.
"Tom is a real skillful big man," sophomore forward Keith Clanton said. "No 7-footer that I have ever seen runs like that."
If individual workouts are any indication, Herzog should have plenty of opportunities to show off his abilities this year. Jones has UCF's post players working on ball handling, passing and outside shooting. The workouts are designed to help the Knights get used to Jones' up-tempo style of play, which Herzog says is beneficial.
"In workouts we are learning how coach runs his system. We are learning a lot of the things he likes to do and how we will be playing in our offense."
Jones expects his big men to score inside and rebound. But he also requires his post players to work on developing all-around games. Herzog likes that philosophy.
"I have heard a saying that `we are basketball players. We are basketball players first,' Herzog said. "We are not just jump-hook shooters. We work on our total games. If you catch it 14-feet away, you need to be able to do something with it."