Friars Take The Floor For Mal Brown Scrimmage

The Providence College Friars unveiled their 2005-2006 team in front of about five hundred enthusiastic fans at Alumni Hall in the annual twenty minute Mal Brown intrasquad scrimmage and there were a couple of early surprises.

The makeup of the two teams was very interesting. The White team, coached by Steve DeMeo and assisted by Vince Cautero, had both Randall Hanke and Herbert Hill on it's roster. Meanwhile, the Black team, coached by Bill Courtney and assisted by Kevin Kurbec, had both Donnie McGrath and Sharaud Curry on it's team.

Ordinarily, you might expect Hanke and Hill to face off against each other, but that wasn't the case. By the same token, by putting McGrath and Curry on the same team, the ballhandling chores for the White team were left primarily to Weyinmi Efejuku, who was relieved at times by Ray Cross.

The White team consisted of Dwight Brewington, Ray Cross, Weyinmi Efejuku, Randall Hanke, Herbert Hill and Desean White, while the Black team was made up of Jonathan Kale, Geoff McDermott, Donnie McGrath, Sharaud Curry, Charles Burch, Tim Englert and Sean Van De Walle.

It was up to Kale to match up inside against Hanke and Hill, and the burly freshman held his own. Kale flashed a solid post up game, attempted several nice reverse layups, and showed good hands. While not a leaper, Kale put his body on people and blocked out well on the glass. Soft he most definitely is not.

Interestingly, McGrath and Curry played together for almost the entire scrimmage, and Curry handled the ball almost exclusively, while McGrath ran the floor at the two. Expect Curry to see a lot of minutes. While he's small, at 5'9, Curry is wiry strong, and not afraid. The young freshman showed an ability to push the ball, dish to the open shooter, and was unafraid to drive to the hoop and mix it up inside. He also has a sweet jumper off the dribble, likes to drive and put up arching jumpers inside, and is a tenacious defender. He appears to be the prototypical push point that Friar fans have been craving.

McGrath appeared to enjoy giving the ball up to Curry. He ran off screens and nailed two three pointers in as many attempts, and looked comfortable playing off the ball.

On the other side, Efejuku handled the ball well, but struggled with his shooting. Other than a layup, Weyinmi missed his other attempts, including a wide open baseline three that sailed long. But shooting was reportedly his weakness. He's a well built guard, with a strong handle, and while he lacks Curry's quickness, he has the ability to run a team.

Geoff McDermott played a solid game, getting into the passing lanes to deflect a couple of passes, drawing a charge, cleaning up on the boards, and throwing some pretty passes, including a no-look beauty to Kale for a layup. McDermott plays with a presence that belies his youth, and in time, he has a chance to be a special player. At 240 pounds, he won't be pushed around inside, and he helped Kale guard the Hanke-Hill tandem.

Hanke continues to impress. If he can stay out of foul trouble, he can be a big-time player. However, staying out of foul trouble is a major chore. He picked up three fouls in the first eight minutes, and that's a problem. But, on the plus side, he was the leading scorer in the scrimmage, posted up well inside, and hit several ten to twelve foot jumpers. He was another who was very active on the boards and he had an impressive block against Kale down low.

Hill looks noticeably stronger, and he had a impact on the scrimmage. Hill was the beneficiary of several pretty inside passes that resulted in monster slams, and pulled down several rebounds with authority.

Desean White played almost the entire twenty minutes, a welcome sign for Friar fans, as he's struggled with a broken toe. He limped at times coming out of the game, but showed no ill effects on the court. White tends to overhandle the ball, but he also is capable of impressive low post passes that result in easy dunks or fouls. Desean drove the lane quite a bit and put up some awkward looking shots, but hit the bottom of the net on several, and was much more involved with rebounding than last year. If he stays under control, White can be a force.

The only starter who went scoreless was Brewington, who played the entire twenty minutes. Dwight attempted one three, and several other shots, but the ball wasn't falling for the junior. On the bright side, he didn't look frustrated, didn't force the issue, and skied for some offensive rebounds.

As far as the game itself, the Black team led from the get-go, and despite a late charge by the White team to tie the score, held on to win, 38-34. Curry and Burch, who played a typically solid game, hit late threes to open the lead back up, and McGrath and Curry effectively killed the clock after Curry chased down a key offensive rebound off a teammates miss with twenty seconds left.

Overall, the scrimmage was encouraging. Unlike last year's scrimmage, when everyone just kind of stood around waiting for Ryan Gomes to do something, this year everyone seemed to be involved. The Friars have some beef inside… Kale is 245 pounds, and both White and McDermott are 240; Hill and Hanke both look bigger, and Curry and Efejuku are strong guards. PC played intense defense, hit the glass, and ran some interesting picks and screens on offense. In Curry, PC finally has a quick, push point, and McGrath showed a nice ability to play off the ball. If Hanke can stay out of foul trouble, White can play under control, and the team continues to develop on defense and pass the ball, this could be an interesting year.

The Friars hosted one recruit, 6'3 1/2" guard Brian McKenzie, from Xaverian High in New York City, who was accompanied by his parents on an official visit.

WHITE TEAM: Hill 5 0-0 10; Hanke 6 2-3 14; White 2 2-2 6; Efejuku 1 0-0 2; Brewington 0 0-0 0; Cross 1 0-0 2…15 4-5 34. BLACK TEAM: Kale 4 2-3 10; McDermott 1 4-7 6; McGrath 2 2-2 8; Burch 3 0-2 7; Curry 3 0-0 7; Englert 0 0-0 0; Van De Walle 0 0-0 0…. 13 8-14 38. Three pointers: White team- none; Black team- McGrath 2, Curry 1, Burch 1.

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