On Saturday afternoon, fans caught a preview of the Ghost of Friar Future as Ricky Ledo, Carson Desrosiers and Tyler Harris saw their season summed up in 24 game minutes. It was a tantalizing glimpse at the talented trio and gave Friar fans hope for the 2013-2014 season. But for the here and now, fans were left wishing for more.
Ed Cooley's Black Team, which consisted of Vincent Council, Kadeem Batts, Bryce Cotton, Brice Kofane, Lee Goldsbrough, Josh Fortune and LaDontae Henton pulled away from a 23-23 halftime tie to a convincing 48-36 win over Andre LaFleur's White Team, made up of Desrosiers, Ledo, Harris, Sidiki Johnson, Ted Bancroft and Maurice Grant.
The first half provided fans with an exhibition of solid team basketball from both squads, featuring good shooting and unselfish passing. Over the first half of the second half, however, the Black Team outscored the suddenly cold White Team, 20-6, and pulled away. By the time the White Team found its range again, the game was essentially over.
While the Black Team contained all of the currently eligible scholarship players, the fact that the White Team hung in so well is a testament to the potential of what's to come. Is next year's team a lock NCAA team? Maybe, maybe not, especially with the loss of Council, but a good many pieces will be present.
First impressions are always difficult, but here's a brief rundown on the performances exhibited in the Mal Brown scrimmage. It will be interesting to compare these impressions with what is shown next Saturday in the first exhibition against Assumption.
What needs to be said about this fourth year floor general? Council has been called by Cooley "the best point guard in the nation," and his quickness and sureness with the ball is astounding. He looks confident, strong with the ball, and had no issues breaking the press. He anticipated well on defense, recording a couple of strip steals, scored 12 points and passed beautifully. His health is the key to any success for the Friars this season.
Henton looked a bit thinner than last year but at the same time, stronger. This was a quiet scrimmage for Henton, as he scored just 4 points and grabbed a few rebounds, but he played within himself, looked smooth on the court and didn't force himself into the action. He will emerge as an on-court leader for the Friars this season and a quiet scrimmage is no cause for concern.
Another veteran who had a quiet scrimmage, Cotton scored 4 points also and made just one shot. In Cotton's case, his shot was simply not falling and as we've seen from him before, he can be streaky. When he starts making shots, he heats up in a hurry, but that never happened Saturday. He did, however, handle the ball well and looked comfortable within the offense. Again, he's a player who's proven himself already.
Kofane is a little bigger than last year, but still needs more bulk to bang inside. Brice scored 2 points on one hoop but looked more confident and comfortable. In addition, his hands looked improved as he grabbed several rebounds and handled passes with no problem. Offensively, he's still developing but he at least looked to back in down low. Only a couple of shot attempts so it's difficult to gauge his level of improvement in that area and no outrageous leaping blocks displayed.
Kadeem is an enigmatic player. Held scoreless and looking a bit lethargic in the first half, he exploded for 12 second half points and dominated the inside as the Black Team pulled away. Batts looked strong and confident in the second half and fought through fouls to score. He played tough man defense against Sidkiki Johnson and Carson Desrosiers. If he comes to play for a full game, the talent is clearly there. And the Friars desperately need him to.
A tougher, stronger Goldsbrough was on display Saturday. Scoring 3 points on one left corner three, Lee battled inside for rebounds. The desire and work ethic is there, but Goldsbrough will have to compensate for trying to compete with superior athletes. He fell into one bad habit once where he passed up an open jumper and then got himself in trouble by driving inside where he was stuffed. He's still more comfortable on the perimeter, but at 6'9 and with no depth, PC needs him inside.
Based on his performance during this scrimmage, Fortune is a steal. Scoring a game-high 13 points, which included three threes, Fortune exhibited a solid shooting stroke. But he came in known as a shooter. It was everywhere else that he impressed. Josh showed great court awareness, has a nose for the ball and an instinct for where to be. Gets his shot off easily. He defended well and recorded a couple of steals, passes well and has good hands. He should be a good one down the road and the Friars need minutes from him so that should be sooner rather than later. He could be this year's "LaDontae Henton surprise."
This is a player with immense talent, as advertised. What was truly impressive about Ledo on this afternoon was that he matched up against Council at point guard, had the ball in his hands for the whole scrimmage for the White Team and passed the ball beautifully and unselfishly. Can really create for himself, as well. He executed several drives and dishes that delighted the crowd and mixed in an assortment of jumpers as well, scoring 12 points, with two threes. He also missed a lot of shots in the second half. There's polishing to be done, but Ricky is a future pro.
Harris is a smooth, thin forward who is always active. He matched Fortune with 13 points and scored in a variety of ways: one three, midrange jumpers, a tip in off a miss, drives for lay-ups. He has a world of potential and the transfer year will be very beneficial for him, but Tyler can be very good. His length will bother people on defense and he runs the floor well.
Johnson will become eligible for Providence by the Colgate game and it's a good thing – the team will need him. Sidiki scored 7 points, including a thunderous dunk, and shows a developed low post game. He uses his thick body well to block out for rebounds, has good hands, and has a midrange game, although he's best around the basket. Sidiki won't blow anyone away with his athleticism and doesn't elevate exceptionally well, but has long arms and knows how to play in the post. On top of that, he's a character who may become a fan favorite.
Of all the newcomers, Carson showed the least. He's tall, at seven feet, and muscular, but in this scrimmage, he had very little impact. Desrosiers scored 2 points on one first half basket and will need to assert himself offensively because he has a nice short jumper. Defensively, he was solid, grabbing a couple of rebounds but it will be interesting to see how a year off spent practicing will improve his game. There is potential, and you can't teach size, but at this time, it's not hard to see why his production was so modest at Wake Forest.
Ted Bancroft and Maurice Grant both were scoreless. The two walk-ons figure to see a decent amount of first semester action, especially Bancroft. He plays hard on defense and is an intelligent player but is obviously limited on offense.
Mal Brown Scrimmage Impressions
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