Mal Brown Impressions

The annual Mal Brown intrasquad scrimmage took place in front of about 500 diehard fans who braved gusting winds and driving rain. For the Friars, it was a chance to show off the new scoreboard and work out some kinks before taking the court for real on Thursday.

The important thing to keep in mind is that this is just a scrimmage, and the players are playing against each other, not outside competition. It's a first glimpse of the team, and as a first glimpse, impressions should not be cast in stone. Certain players stood out, while others looked like they had a long way to go… however, a completely different interpretation could be formed on Thursday.

What follows is a player by player description, in the form of impressions that I walked away with today. What will be most interesting to this observer will be whether my initial impressions hold true over the next few games.

The Mal Brown scrimmage consisted of a twenty minute first half, a two minute break, and a ten minute second half. Conditioning was key, as the White team had no players on the bench to sub with, and the Black team had only one player on the bench. The White team's starters consisted of Geoff McDermott, Sharaud Curry, Charles Burch, Ray Hall, Jamal Barney, while the Black team's starters featured Herbert Hill, Jon Kale, Chris Baudinet, Jeff Xavier, and Weyinmi Efejuku. The Black team opened up a 45-32 halftime lead and cruised to a 66-56 win, made close only by a late White team run. So, the Black team first:

Herbert Hill
Hill was the dominant player in the scrimmage. He looked stronger, far more confident, and was unstoppable in the low post, featuring an assortment of hooks, dunks and turn-around short jumpers. He even stepped out and nailed a ten foot baseline jumper. Hill scored 24 points on 12-17 shooting, including 14 in the first half. If Hill plays this way on a consistent basis, the Friars will be strong in the middle. He also stayed home on defense, and helped seal the middle.

Weyinmi Efejuku
Weyinmi also played with more confidence and poise. He showed explosion on drives to the basket, better positioning on defense (he used his feet more than his hands, unlike last season), and passed well. Weyinmi scored most of his points on drives to the hoop, although he did nail one three. He only attempted two threes, so its difficult to comment on the improvement that we've heard about in his outside shooting, but his threes looked to have more arc to them. He scored 17 points, and was 8-8 from the charity stripe. He's best off the ball, as he committed 4 turnovers when forced to be the quarterback.

Jeff Xavier
He's not the fastest guard, or the quickest, so he won't beat many opponents off the dribble, but Xavier is a heady, smart player who handles the ball solidly, passes well and sees the floor. He took advantage of several openings to drive to the hoop, and when open, has a beautiful three point stroke. Xavier shot 6-9 and scored 14 points, but also had 5 turnovers, as his lack of quickness allows him to be pressured.

Jonathan Kale
Kale scored all of his 10 points in the first half, and he continues to progress as a tough boardman. Without question, Kale has a nose for the ball and led all players with 9 rebounds. Most of his points, as was the case last year, came on putbacks off misses, but he rebounded much better off the defensive boards than he did last year.

Chris Baudinet
This walk-on played a solid game. Thrown in with the scholarship players and forced to play the entite game, Baudinet scored 2 points, had 5 rebounds and only one turnover. He didn't look out of place, didn't make any mistakes and held his own.

Sharaud Curry
Curry has picked up where he left off last season. Looking even stronger, Curry came out and drilled his first three three-point attempts. He scored 16 points to lead the White team, 14 in the first half, as his three point shooting cooled off. Overall, he hit 6-14, and 4-9 from three, but he was, by far, the best pure point guard on the floor, mixing in drives to the hoop with beautiful passes to the wing. Curry will be one of the best point guards in the Big East this season, without question.

Geoff McDermott
Finally looking healthy, McDermott looks more like a basketball player this year and less like a football player playing basketball. He flashed an all-around game – a confident handle, gorgeous passes into the post, scored 11 points on 5-7 shooting, most on drives and layups, and again displayed a tough rebounding attitude. As a bonus, with a healthy foot, McDermott skied for two alley-oop dunks on feeds from Curry. Didn't see more than one or two jump shots.

Ray Hall
This man-mountain clearly isn't ready to play a full game, but he showed flashes, especially in the second half. He scored 15 points, on 7-9 shooting, with eight points coming in the shorter second half. Stamina is still a bit of a problem, as he was all but invisible for the last ten minutes of the first half. I didn't get much of a chance to see what he can do when he receives the ball in the low post with his back to the basket, but he has soft hands and scores well on quick inside passes for catches and layups. He'll provide a nice, couple of minute changeup at center and his role should grow as the season goes on. Already, he looks in much better shape and has lost a lot of excess weight.

Jamal Barney
Hopefully the NCAA Clearinghouse clears him soon, because Barney can help this team. A tough defender, Barney twice forced five second calls on his man, and he shows nice anticipation, with three steals that led to baskets. Barney scored 13 points on 6-11 shooting, but most of points were on drives to the hoop. His outside shot is erratic, although he did hit one three (in 5 attempts). He's a tough, very competitive kid, and gave Efejuku fits when Weyinmi was bringing the ball up.

Charles Burch
This was kind of a lost day for Burch. He scored one point on a free throw, shot 0-3 from the floor, and was generally invisible. His shot was clearly off on this day, and defenders succeeded in harassing him when he had the ball and tried to put it on the floor. One of those days for Burch.

Some other Mal Brown thoughts and impressions:

Free throw shooting has to improve. Take away Weyinmi's 8-8 shooting, and the rest of the two squads combined for 5-11. Other than Weyinmi, no one hit the front end of two shot fouls. That kind of free throw shooting can be a killer.

There was a new face on the squad… a new walk-on. Luke Burchett, a 5-10 guard from Illinois, made his debut, sporting uniform number 10. He played one minute and was scoreless.

There were no recruits at the scrimmage, but the recruits are coming. Next weekend, PC hopes to host both 6'6 wing forward Darrion Pellum and 6'7 1/2 forward Damien Saunders, although Saunders' visit could be in two weeks. Saunders is visiting Marquette this weekend and the staff will be sweating out that visit, but Saunders has said he won't verbal until he visits PC. Pellum has some academic work to do, but it wouldn't be surprising to see PC nab any two of Pellum, Saunders, or 6'7 forward Justin Harper.

Randall Hanke is expected back on campus sometime this coming week. The cast comes off his hand within days (Monday) and he'll resume practicing right away, although obviously he'll be behind at the beginning.

The staff is confident that Jamal Barney will be cleared soon by the NCAA. The Clearinghouse had asked for one more piece on Barney and that was supplied, so he could be cleared intime for the second exhibition game. Let's hope.

Two Friars did not play in the scrimmage… Dwain Williams had the flu and didn't practice yesterday and Brian McKenzie has a banged up knee… both are expected to play on Thursday in the exhibition opener against New Haven. Williams reportedly is quick and shoots very well, while McKenzie has been lighting it up from the perimeter in practices. Now, if he can just stop banging his knee in the same spot…

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