Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pickup Game Observations Part Two

Better late than never, here are my observations from the second scrimmage at SJU that I was able to catch.

This scrimmage took place in the practice gym, as the Philadelphia 76'ers were holding practice in the Hagan. The number of Range Rovers in the parking lot gave away the fact that the Sixers were practicing before I even made it into the gym.

The players participating in this informal pick-up game was significantly different than the last one. Daryus Quarles, CJ Aiken, Langston Galloway, and Carl Baptiste were all missing. Justin Crosgile and Halil Kanicevic, however, were here this time. Also playing were former Hawks Tasheed Carr and Garrett Williamson.

Due to numbers, this pick-up game went 4-on-4, with a guard (Justin Crosgile, Tay Jones, and Pat Swilling)subbing in and out for one another. Since teams switched around on a few occasions, I will limit this post to only my random observations.

The standout player to me on this day was Pat Swilling Jr. When I first saw him in a Summer League game, I didn't really know what to expect except a strong guard capable of scoring the ball and playing physical defense. While Patrick is both of those things, he also possesses a much better perimeter shot than I expected. In this game, he drilled 4 shots from three in a quick offensive outburst. In addition to this surprisingly effecient shooting display, he was also able to drive and either score or create for teammates. Between Swilling, Quarles, and Langston Galloway, the Hawks look like they should be a better three-point shooting team than last year, despite the graduation of Darrin Govens.

While Swilling stood out most to me, I was extremely impressed with the play of Hofstra transfer Halil Kanacevic as well. First of all, like the freshman guards, Halil is already built like an upperclassman. Although he didn't appear to be quite the 6'8 he is listed at, he did appear every bit the 240 pounds. Strong in the upper and lower body, Halil showed an ability to move his weight around in the post. In addition to his rebounding ability, which he displayed, I was most impressed with Halil's passing ability. Passing the ball out of the high post to cutters multiple times and kicking the ball out from the low post, Halil showed great court awareness and vision. He also finished around the bucket on several dunks. His most impressive bucket came on a pretty 8-foot turnaround jumper with his left (off) hand. Although he gave up a solid 3 inches or so to Todd O'Brien, for the most part Halil was able to play him straight up. O'Brien did score on him with some strong post moves, Halil showed that he has the strength to play against players taller than him.

Since this was 4-on-4, the players didn't have the legs they did in the last scrimmage. The games weren't nearly as up-tempo which limited opportunities to run for Ron Roberts and some of the others. Roberts still showed tenacity on the glass, pulling down a number of rebounds in heavy traffic. Tay Jones played very well this day too, a significant difference from the last time I saw him. He played under control, looked to be a distributor instead of trying to score every time down the court, and made really smart decisions with the ball. He actually looked like a point guard. As I mentioned last time, Tay's first step is just so quick. He had a tough time getting past Swilling on a few occasions, but still showed that explosiveness that allows him to get to the basket with ease. I was really impressed with what I saw out of Tay this day.

Justin Crosgile wasn't at the last scrimmage, so this was the first time I saw him since last season. Although overshadowed by Swilling and Tay, he still made some nice plays. His being overshadowed had more to do with how well the other two played. Justin hit a contested three and was able to push the tempo a few times, running primarily with Rasheed Carr. Speaking of Carr, he looked really good here, as did Garrett. Last time, I mentioned Idris' expanded perimeter game. That was on display again today. He pulled up, and hit, a three in transition. Idris also knocked down 2 or 3 shots from 15-17 feet in the halfcourt set.

Practice officially begins next Friday, October 15th. I should be on hand to provide a recap.

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