"It was nice to get into the swing of things right away," Matthews said. You get a change to get all the kinks out and have a little fun."
Matthews assumed leadership on the Gold Squad, guiding them to two victories over the Blue Squad. He beat his defender repeatedly on the way to the hoop, distributed like a point guard, and drained several key three pointers. Matthews demonstrated improved ball handling skills, dribbling his was out of a high-corner trap and throwing a nice lead pass to Lazar Hayward for a layup as time expired on the shot clock.
Maurice Acker, the Gold Squad's point guard, also distinguished himself by hitting outside shots and free throws down the stretch. Acker showed off his trademark speed off the dribble and scored a pivotal basket in traffic late in the second scrimmage.
Also noticeable was the presence of freshman Trevor Mbakwe. In only his second day on the court, Mbakwe showed that he belonged on the team. Before the scrimmage even began he crashed into the wall fighting for a loose ball with Jerel McNeal. He also played strong defense against Ousmane Barro and converted a few nice moves inside. Although he still has not been granted complete eligibility, he has been given a two-week grace period to practice.
Another freshman big man, Patrick Hazel, showed off his skills during drills and the team scrimmages. Hazel s demonstrated that he could run down court like a guard and flashed decent range from the top of the key. La Crosse native Scott Christopherson showed his toughness while guarding Dominic James and David Cubillan in drills. He crashed to the floor, only to get up again and again.
He surprised the crowd with his vertical as he dunked during layup drills.
Recruit Frank Ben-Eze sat on the Gold Team's bench during the scrimmages. Ben-Eze, on campus for his official visit, talked with several assistants and Head Coach Tom Crean throughout the night. At the end of the scrimmage, Crean shouted to both benches to stand up, to simulate a real game situation. Along with the players, Ben-Eze snapped to his feet and started to cheer and yell with the rest of the team.
Frank Ben-Eze talks with Buzz Williams
The first scrimmage was played to 25 points, which was a four point win for the Gold Squad. The second scrimmage began with a 60-60 tie and three minutes was counted down after the first team reached 68 points. When the three minutes expired, the teams were tied. Coach Crean placed two minutes on the clock and eventually the Gold Squad prevailed 78-75.
From here, Marquette will take one more practice before traveling to Vancouver for their four game weekend series. They will play a team of all-stars along with three colleges from the southwest British Columbia area.
"We get a chance to get the new players and the guys that didn't play that much last year out there," McNeal said. "At the same time, we get to take a trip out there Labor Day weekend and have some fun."
Marquette's first exhibition game is Saturday at 2:00 pm against the Moult Athletic All-Stars.
**Jeff Wolf is our Head Student Writer this year. Jeff is a sophomore majoring in Advertising.
**Please welcome Marco Radenkovich as one of our new student writers. Marco is a sophomore majoring in Finance.