Mal Brown Scrimmage Impressions

The annual Mal Brown intrasquad scrimmage took place in front of about 500 diehard fans at Alumni Hall. For the Friars, it was a chance to work out some kinks and sign some autographs before taking the court for real next Friday against Carleton University in the exhibition game at the Ryan Center, down in Kingston.

The important thing to always keep in mind is that this is just a scrimmage, and the players are playing against each other, not outside competition. As such, the players know each other's moves very well. It's a first glimpse of the team, a snapshot, 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 next Friday.

The Mal Brown scrimmage consisted of a twenty minute half. The White Team, coached by Steve DeMeo, consisted of Dwain Williams, Jeff Xavier, Geoff McDermott, Jamine Peterson, Randall Hanke and Chris Baudinet, while the Black Team, coached by Vince Cautero and Allen Griffin, featured Weyinmi Efejuku, Alex Kellogg, Brian McKenzie, Jonathan Kale, Ray Hall and Chuck Burchett.

The Black Team dominated early, pulling away from the White Team as the clock wound down. Holding a 28-23 lead, the Black Team went cold, and finally succumbed to a furious rally by the White Team, capped off by a spectacular one hand jam by Jamine Peterson with seven tenths of a second left off a missed jumper from Dwain Williams, for a 31-30 win.

First, a couple of general impressions, and then a player-by-player breakdown.

• Rebounding must be addressed. The Friars want to play man to man on defense this season, and played man throughout the scrimmage, but if they don't do a better job rebounding the basketball, they'll be back to zone out of necessity. In general, there was a minimum of boxing out as shots went up, and that allowed way too many offensive rebounds. On one possession, the Black Team grabbed five offensive boards. That can't happen.

• PC may be suffering from the post-Herbert Hill blues in the paint. Randall Hanke and Ray Hall squared off against each other, and neither established any low post presence. In fact, neither even looked to set up shop, back to the basket, on the low post, and call for the ball. Late in the scrimmage, Hall began to look for the ball down low, but PC needs to find a consistent low post game.

• Foul shooting was, well, pretty foul. The two teams combined to shoot 11-27 from the free throw line, and only Jeff Xavier (4 of 5) looked good at the line. It's early, it's only a scrimmage, but this is a veteran team that should do better at knocking down its free throws.

Let's take a look at the players… first, from the winning White Team:

Dwain Williams
Williams ran the point for the White Team, and while he had no trouble advancing the ball, he's still not adept at running the offense and getting great shots for his teammates. He's a score-first point, and he flashed his deadly three point shot, but too often he shoots when he should pass, and much of the White Teams offense was "offense by accident". Still, Williams is a very talented offensive threat.

Jeff Xavier
Word is, Jeff landed on his hip in practice and was a bit off his game in the scrimmage. But Jeff can shoot it, made some nice down low passes, and shows great hustle. On one loose ball, he hit the deck and deflected the ball ahead to a teammate, preventing it from going out of bounds. His natural position is the two, and from what we hear, he's been tearing it up in practice.

Geoff McDermott
McDermott is a lean, mean machine, but had minimal impact on this particular scrimmage. He helped advance the ball, tried to hit the glass, and was quiet on offense. Of course, part of that might have been the fact that he didn't get the ball in good spots very often, but it would be nice to see a more assertive McDermott. The tandem of Kale and Hall were much bulkier than McDermott and Hanke, and that helped keep McDermott off the glass.

Jamine Peterson
Greedy is an interesting player. He looks to be about 6'5, but is very athletic and jumps well. In a structured half court offense, he sometimes looked lost, but seemed to fill the lanes well on the break. Peterson came up big at the end of the game, scoring on a layup to pull the White Team within one, and then acrobatically skying and hanging in the air to jam home a Williams miss for the win. Because he's undersized for his game, Peterson also had some trouble finishing inside and played out of control at times. Friar fans will need a little patience with Greedy, but in time, he could develop into a pretty good player.

Randall Hanke
Hanke looked like he had put some weight back on, and ran the floor pretty well. He scored two baskets, one a dunk off a Peterson miss, and the other on a layup by filling the lane on a fast break. At times, he disappeared, and defensively, he needs to do a better job boxing out and fighting for rebounds. Frankly, it seemed as though he struggled against the bulkier Hall to establish any position at all, and again, fans will need to be patient as Randall works to get back to where he was two years ago.

Now for the Black Team:

Brian McKenzie
What a difference a year makes. Last year, McKenzie looked lost at times and had trouble hitting his shot. This year, Brian looks more comfortable, better knows his role, has solidified his shooting stroke, and goes to the glass. He had a gorgeous move where he jabbed in, the defender backpeddled, McKenzie stepped back and drilled a fifteen foot jumper. Look for McKenzie to see extended minutes at the three this season, as well as the two.

Weyinmi Efejuku
Weyinmi did the bulk of the ballhandling for the Black Team and looked comfortable. In fact, for most of the scrimmage, the Black Team ran its offense much smoother than the White Team. Efejuku remains a solid shooter, drives with abandon to the rim, and executed a number of pretty passes to cutters. Weyinmi has recently been playing much better in practice, and this could be a breakout season for him.

Alex Kellogg
No redshirt for this guy. This well built freshman is a very solid basketball player. There's no doubt that he's been well coached. Kellogg handles the ball extremely well for a big forward, understands the half court offense, plays under control, executes crisp cuts to the basket and can score with either hand. While not as highly touted as others coming out of high school, he could provide some real depth in the frontcourt this season. Can do everything right now except shoot it, and defensively, he's been giving McDermott and others fits in practice. May see some time at the three.

Jon Kale
Kale tore it up on the Italy trip, and he remains the emotional leader of this team. A strong inside player, Kale confined his offense during this scrimmage to reverse layups and baby hooks, but reportedly, his range has improved. Still a bit undersized and without great lift, Kale sometimes struggles to score cleanly inside, but he's stronger than ever, and he provides the Friars with a semblence of low block offense.

Ray Hall
Ray Hall is becoming a player. Slimmed down a bit, Hall looks more mobile and much more active than he did last year. He still has great hands, and his offense still consists of layups inside, but he's moving better, has much better stamina, and really is a nice interior passer. As the scrimmage progressed, Hall began blocking out better, began looking for the ball, and along with Kale, was very effective at using his size to keep Hanke and McDermott away from the boards.

Some other Mal Brown observations:

Two Friars did not play in the scrimmage… senior Charles Burch is nursing a hamstring injury and freshman Marshon Brooks was held out with an ankle injury, but appeared to be walking without a problem. My guess is that he'll be ready to go next Friday… Sharaud Curry was present, foot cast, crutches and all… Lew Cole was spotted in the crowd… Word is that 2009 prospect Jordan Stevens, a 6'5 wing from Saratoga, New York, was in the house… Defense looked good, and there wasn't a lot of room to move or operate the offenses.

WHITE TEAM (31), Williams 3 0-1 9 (2 threes), Xavier 1 4-5 7 (1 three), McDermott 0 1-2 1, Peterson 4 2-7 10, Baudinet 0 0-0 0, Hanke 2 0-0 4

BLACK TEAM (30), Kellogg 1 0-0 2, McKenzie 5 0-1 11 (1 three), Efejuku 2 3-6 8 (1 three), Kale 2 1-4 5, Hall 2 0-1 4, Burchett 0 0-0 0

Scout Friars Top Stories