Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 7/10/12
HOUSTON There was no misinterpreting Donatas Motiejunas' body language. Before opening his mouth and confirming what was already suspected via a string of responses teeming with bravado, Motiejunas projected a surprising amount of self-assuredness and self-awareness. Even without standing erect, Motiejunas, reclined against the wall of the Toyota Center practice court adjacent to La Branch Street, towered over the media on Tuesday. He was disarmingly comfortable before his inquisitors, and as he discussed these initial preparations for his maiden foray into the NBA, Motiejunas' Lithuanian accent did little to hinder the ability to decipher his confidence. He appeared undeniably undaunted. "If you're scared of wolf," Motiejunas said when asked whether he was ready to face the challenge of NBA competition, "don't go to the woods." He delivered that line, best characterized as a Lithuanian proverb, with unmistakable cool, which is interesting because that description stands in stark contrast to how Rockets coach Kevin McHale later depicted Motiejunas, 21. Tuesday marked the first time Motiejunas practiced in advance of the Rockets' departure for Las Vegas and their NBA Summer League schedule, and even this workout was limited by his cranky back. So while Motiejunas came off as polished and poised, traits burnished by his leading Asseco Prokom Gdynia to the Polish League championship, McHale saw Motiejunas' first practice steps differently. "Motiejunas needs to play," McHale said. "It's really a shame that his back has been bothering him. He's got to play a lot (Wednesday) and the next day because he's a high-energy guy who's prone to playing kind of fast. (If) he gets all this energy that first game in Vegas, those guys in the ninth row might have broken noses. He might throw that ball all over the place. He needs to play to get some of that out of him right now. I hope (Wednesday) he can get a couple good practices. "He's like one of those puppies; you need to run them before putting them in the car and let them sit for a long time. He needs to run." There is no denying the fact that Motiejunas made strides in the Euroleague last season. The second of the Rockets' two first-round picks in 2011, Motiejunas (7-feet, 222 pounds) was more potential than productivity when selected. But that additional season abroad worked wonders, not only for Motiejunas' physique but also his development. The numbers 15.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.35 steals per game are noteworthy, but the experience Motiejunas gleaned from taking his team to a championship validated the Rockets' decision to stash him in Europe. He has grown sufficiently enough to provide immediate help. "The one year before I didn't have a good year," Motiejunas said. "I got drafted by Houston and it was like, 'We will see how you are.' They believe (in) me; the pressure was on me, and I (went) to Poland and to the Euroleague team and I tried to give my best. I had a great coach (Tomas Pacesas) who let me play on the best level a lot of minutes, and I show for everyone that when I play my best game no one can stop me. "It's given me a lot of confidence. When I came here, I came here with a lot different attitude. I believe myself, I trust myself that I can play." Confidence isn't in short supply with guard Scott Machado either, despite going undrafted out of Iona. Machado led the nation in assists as a senior and was evaluated as an early- to mid-second-round selection. Falling completely off the draft board came as a surprise, yet Machado didn't allow that development to prevent him from pushing forward. Success has found undrafted players previously, and with Jeremy Lin (Knicks) and Wesley Matthews (Trail Blazers) serving as examples, and with several NBA teams expressing interest in his services, Machado knew the opportunity to prove himself yet again would soon be at hand. "It's nothing new to me," Machado said. "Everywhere I've been in my life I've always had to prove myself or always been an underrated player. Nothing ever came easy to me. "It's just the same approach as always: working hard, making sure that you're doing everything at your hardest, making sure that you're impressing everybody that's watching." Iona played at such an accelerated pace the Gaels led the nation in scoring at 82.9 points per game in 2011-12 that Machado was routinely showcased as an adept ball-handler in up-tempo situations. Given the controls of a traditional NBA offense, McHale expects Machado to grasp an understanding that the ball cannot stick in half-court sets, that ball movement and distribution are critical to efficiency. Basketball acumen shouldn't be much of a concern for Machado, and like Motiejunas, he is convinced that he has the goods to thrive. Machado didn't convey his self-reliance with a Queens proverb, but he made his point succinctly nevertheless. "I feel like my game translates more in the NBA," Machado said. "Even though (going undrafted) happened it's nothing new to me. It's just another barrier that I've got to step over, something that I've got to get over. "You've got to have confidence in this league. If you don't come into the workouts with confidence, you feel like you're scared of somebody or you feel like you don't have enough talent to be in the league. You've got to have confidence in your game, you've got to believe in yourself and you've got to work hard." Follow me on Twitter at moisekapenda
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cubs trade for Chapman a risk, but potential payoff too hard to ignore

White Sox fan wears a fantastic taped-up Chris Sale jersey

Wisconsin kicker will wear 27 to honor Nebraska's Sam Foltz

Dennis Schroder wears disguise to play in German streetball tournament

Browns indicate they will give Josh Gordon another chance

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Prince Fielder to undergo season-ending neck surgery

Eagles want Carson Wentz to be 'starter ready' Week 1

Report: 49ers concerned Anthony Davis will quit again

Did Manning hurt NFLPA's case in HGH investigations?

Report: Steinbrenner won't allow fire sale, wants to make playoffs

Report: Dion Waiters agrees to one-year deal with Heat

Dion Waiters' deal signals the end of the 2016 money grab

Tom Jackson could leave ESPN after almost three decades

Cavs sign coach Tyronn Lue to a five-year extension

More than 10,000 people registered for Jaguars Pokemon Go night

NFL issues new concussion protocol

Angels listening to offers on Hector Santiago

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

Kevin Durant’s OKC restaurant will be closed, rebranded

Lamar Odom said to be held back by one 'toxic friend'

Mario Balotelli crashes Liverpool fans' wedding

Michael Vick: I used to feel I was 'dominating too much'

WATCH: Astros, Rangers minor leaguers get into brawl

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker