“A fun tool:” New, high-tech machine helps Marquette basketball players improve their skills

MILWAUKEE -- Improving skills while having fun -- that's what's going on for the Marquette University basketball team this summer. It's all thanks to a new addition on the practice court.

"It's like a hidden tool that we have that nobody really knows about," said Andrew Rowsey, Marquette player.

There is plenty that is familiar for the Marquette men's basketball team during summer practice. And no, it's not a new recruit.

"You walk in the gym and you start wondering what it is," said Markus Howard, Marquette player.

"When you walk into the gym your first reaction is like, what is that machine there in the corner?" said Rowsey.

It's the Lazer dribbling machine: part video game, part coaching tool.

"It's very fun. It reminds me of Guitar Hero growing up," Rowsey said.

"It's a fun tool to use just to be competitive each and every day, and hopefully it translates onto the court when you play," Howard said.

Instead of following the bouncing ball, players are the ones that must watch the screen and bounce the ball at the correct time and place.

"The technology is really ramping up in everything that we do and this is just another example of it. Guys working on the ball handling drills, and it's really helped our team," said Brett Nelson, assistant coach.

Nelson said the machine encourages good basketball skills in a number of ways.

Brett Nelson

"It makes guys get their head and eyes up when they are handling the basketball, so many times, when guys are doing ball handling drills, their heads are down. This machine makes guys get their heads and eyes up. It makes you react to whatever the screen is telling you to do. It's not like a coach sitting there telling you. Whatever the screen's doing, it makes you react," Nelson said.

So far, it's getting plenty of use and positive reviews from players like Markus Howard.

"We definitely use it to our advantage. We use it just about every day. Different guys come in and work on different things that they need to work on with their handle. It's really been helping us throughout this off-season. We are just looking forward to continuing to use it," said Howard.

It's also another way for the players to challenge each other.

"You can make it competitive. Guys start competing against each other and each guy has it's own profile," said Nelson.

"It's very competitive. We are all competitive players. We love to compete," said Howard.

"It's just attractive to the eye. You look at it and you're like, 'I want to try that.' Just having that factor with it really helps, but we love doing it. We really do. It's a lot of fun, but you get something out of it each and every time you use it," said Howard.

Hopes are the dribbling machine pays off come the fall and winter.

"It makes us keep our head up when we are dribbling so we can look at the court and find somebody open, so we are really looking for that to carry over to games, being able to handle the ball in pressure and being able to find the open guy," said Rowsey.