METAIRIE, La. ― Monty Williams stood and watched as Rod Harper caught pass after pass in front of the JUGS machine following the Saints' first practice Friday.

And then he stepped in front of the machine himself, catching everything thrown his way.

Once an athlete, always an athlete.

Williams, the Hornets' first-year head coach, as well as team president Hugh Weber both attended the session as a special guest of the Saints, a move the basketball coach welcomed as much to see what goes into building a championship team as anything else.

'(I) really appreciate what the saints have done, allowing me to come over and get some ideas just from walking around,' Williams said. 'I am a football fan, but at the same time just have an appreciation for the dedication and hard work they put in to win a championship.'

Williams added, 'This is what we want. This is where we want to be. ... I've got a lot of ideas on drills, whether or not I can implement those things, they're up in the air. But I like to be around excellence. And they've done it right here.

'And we plan on doing the same thing.'

Williams and Weber both watched all of practice, both bringing along children. Williams had his 2-year-old Elijah with him while Weber's sons Hugh III, 8, and Jackson, 7, were both with him.

When Williams was catching balls from the JUGS machine, Drew Brees walked over, asking the coach if he wanted to catch a real pass. The two spoke briefly before Williams' son walked over, meeting the quarterback, too.

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