Over the past several weeks, I was fortunate enough to, on two occasions, catch the 2010-2011 Saint Joseph's team playing informal pickup games. While practice for all college teams doesn't begin until October 15th, players are able to play scrimmage amongst themselves at any point. The first scrimmage that I saw was about three weeks ago, and the second scrimmage was last week. I will recap the first scrimmage today and the second tomorrow.
This is now a few weeks back, so some details on the scrimmage are a bit fuzzy, but I'll try my best. Teams were split up as follows: Langston Galloway, Pat Swilling Jr., Daryus Quarles, Idris Hilliard, and Carl Baptiste on team one. Then Tay Jones, Charoy Bentley, Ron Roberts, CJ Aiken, and Todd O'Brien on team two.
First, the freshman. In his particular game, two freshman stood out to me above the rest. Daryus Quarles is a player that I saw quite a bit when he was a junior at Life Center Academy. Quarles has always had serious athleticism, and really solid form on his jumpshot. Over the course of this scrimmage, Quarles knocked down a wide array of perimeter shots. On more than one occasion, he pulled up a foot or two behind the three-point line and canned it in rhythm. Daryus also took his man off the dribble and hit at least 3 pull-up jumpers from the free-throw line area. In all, it was an impressive shooting display from Quarles. Another observation about Quarles worth mentioning is his extremely competitive nature. Over the summer, and again today, you can tell by watching how much he simply hates to lose.
The other freshman that stood out was Ron Roberts. First of all, I was impressed with his size. Listed anywhere from 6'5 to 6'7 on various websites, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Roberts stands (at least as far as I could tell) a fairly legitimate 6'7. In addition, he (like Quarles and Aiken) has incredible length, which will be an asset on the defensive end this year. Roberts uses his size and freakish athleticism on both ends of the court, and demonstrated that today. He was able to soar for rebounds, which he often grabbed and ran with. I was surprised at how frequently, and with decent success, Roberts pushed the ball upcourt himself. While he may be more of a power forward at this stage of the game still, Ron showed that he can put the ball on the court and take it to the bucket. The standout play of the afternoon was an alley-oop that he received on a 2-on-1 break courtesy of Charoy Bentley. On the dunk, Ron elevated to where his eyes were nearly parallel to the rim before throwing it down with authority. This was just one of several powerful dunks that Ron threw down. He also knocked down 2 or 3 jumpers from the free throw line extended.
Other observations from this game, more on an individual basis than team basis to the nature of pick-up games.
Carl Baptiste showed some assertiveness on the offensive end. He was the recipient of a few nice dimes from Pat Swilling and Langston Galloway that were converted into dunks. Carl also hit a jumper or two from the baseline. Speaking of Swilling and Galloway, both played the type of game that Hawk fans will quickly come to know and love. While neither are, as of now, point guards, both freshmen can handle the ball. Both are also able to get into the lane with relative ease, either scoring themselves or distributing the ball to the open man. Both, physically, look more like college seniors than freshmen, and they use their strength on the boards and on the defensive end. Langston and Pat both hit some shots from three. In the next scrimmage recap, I will touch upon this subject again.
While he was fairly quiet in the scrimmage, CJ Aiken still had three or four plays that made your jaw drop to the floor. He and Roberts both possess athleticism in the frontcourt that hasn't been seen at SJU in quite some time. Todd O'Brien looks like he put on some muscle since last season. As athletic as CJ and Ron are in the frontcourt, Todd is that fundamental. While Todd didn't do anything to wow you in this game, he showed some nice moves in the post. Todd, Idris, and Carl have competition for minutes with Ron and CJ joining the mix this year. This should do nothing but help the team.
Speaking of Idris, he showed some really positive improvements in this game. For the past three years, Idris has been a rock solid, undersized power forward for the Hawks. In this game, Idris showed range on his jumper, hitting a number of shots from out near the three-point line. This could be an interesting development for the Hawks this year. If Idris is able to play a bit more on the perimeter, it would allow the Hawks to possibly throw Idris out there at the 3, Roberts or Aiken at the 4, and Baptiste or O'Brien at the 5. Just a thought I had during the scrimmage.
This was not one of Tay's better performances, and he jacked up shot after shot after shot for his team. Seeing him play for the first time in quite a while, I had forgotten how quick his first step was however. Again, this was not an impressive performance from Tay. In the next scrimmage summary, you will get a much more glowing review of Tay though. If Tay is able to play like he did in that second scrimmage, playing the role of facilitator and scorer, he will be a major contributor this season.
While practice is not set to start for ten more days, the players are able to work out on their own in the meantime. I was just fortunate enough to catch them on two separate occasions. The next recap will be up here tomorrow.
Thanks for reading!