Sunday was Halloween, so it was a perfect day for Marquette basketball to host their traditional Haunted Hoops event in the morning. I got my lazy self up and moving to be there, so I’ve got a modest collection of thoughts from what I saw for you.
Let’s just get right to it, shall we?
- I’m glad I elected to get to the McGuire Center well ahead of the advertised 10am start for the actual basketball content of the day, as head coach Shaka Smart had his team out on the McGuire Center court running drills and having a regular ol’ practice.
- The team was split up into guards and big when I arrived, and it appeared that they were running some passing and moving drills.
- Items of note that jumped out as soon as I took stock of everything happening: Stevie Mitchell was out of the walking boot he had on at the season ticket holder event at Fiserv and was a full participant.... while Greg Elliott was on an exercise bike when I got seated and settled. He would eventually jump into the passing drill, though.
- After that was a full court trapping drill, meaning working on how MU wants to approach those situations as the defensive team. It looked once again like Greg Elliott was sitting this one out.
- They wrapped up the practice/drills section with some baseline out of bounds play action. Elliott got involved in these.
From there it was on to the scrimmage at 10am. 16 minute halves instead of the full 20 for a game, but with very little substitution going on, this makes sense.
Here’s the breakdown on the teams.
- WHITE TEAM: Greg Elliott, Justin Lewis, Oso Ighodaro, Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Stevie Mitchell, Kam Jones, Michael Kennedy, and new walk-on RJ Wilson.
- BLUE TEAM: Kur Kuath, Darryl Morsell, Tyler Kolek, Keeyan Itejere, David Joplin, Emarion Ellis, Cameron Brown, and Michael Carney.
- Amongst the scholarship players on the roster, Greg Elliott and Keeyan Itejere were the two guys who did not start for their respective teams.
And now, things I noticed about the first half
- It seemed, at least at the start, that Kolek was the one getting the offense started for the Blue Team as opposed to either Morsell or Ellis. That would have run counter to my expected outcome amongst the three of them on the court together, but that’s what Neill Berry had his team doing.
- The White Team got out to an 8-0 start and we’ll get to it eventually, but that became a theme of the thing by the end.
- Given his vigor for an attempt early-ish on, I wonder how many times Prosper has tried to dunk on Kuath... or based on how things eventually went, how many times Prosper has been dunked on by Kuath and was out for revenge.
- At the mid-way point of the first half, White Team was up 16-9.
- This will become a theme, but if teams do not defend Kur Kuath at all times — in this case it was a catch/one step/dunk in transition — he is going to make people look very foolish constantly.
- Both White and Blue were deploying some variety of full or three-quarters court pressure regularly if not actually more often than not. Obviously, this is something that Smart wants his defenses doing.... but it’s quietly beneficial for the offense to be constantly playing against it. Sure, other teams will have their own way of trapping or pressing and that could lead to Marquette getting discombobulated along the way this season.... but facing some kind of pressure in practice is going to lead to calmer reactions from the Golden Eagles down the line.
- Oso Ighodaro came up with a chasedown block on David Joplin on a transition attempt at a layup. Good effort by Ighodaro to do it, but I was left with the impression that Joplin could have put a little bit more hurry up or insistence on his attempt to avoid the block.
- That was followed up by a Ighodaro dunking in a halfcourt set after he was left unattended with space to take a step or two towards the rim, and he finished the dunk through enough contact from Kuath to draw a foul. Lots to like about that, other than maybe the Kuath foul.
- As the first half went on, the two teams definitely started to look and/or feel more comfortable playing. It felt a little robotic at the start — BEEP BORP THIS IS BASKETBALL DRIBBLE HERE PASS THERE — but once the guys got into a rhythm, they started getting more adventurous and creative.
At the half: White 30, Blue 25. Remember, that’s in 16 minutes, so it’s like a regular halftime score of 38-31.
At this point, I realized that it didn’t feel like Marquette was creating a lot of deflections. I elected to start tracking deflections for the second half just to see what I could see. Thus, a lot fewer notes for the second half as I was really watching the ball more closely than before to watch for deflections.
- Prosper got his team out to a hot start in the second half, scoring the first three buckets and forcing a timeout from the Blue Team.
- There was a made free throw at one point, and Joplin waited in the lane afterwards, seemingly setting up for some kind of pressure situation. Smart was animated at the least and disappointed at worst based on his reaction to get Joplin to get back on defense. It was the only real time of the entire day that anything Smart was doing particularly stood out.
- At the midway point: White 48, Blue 44
- There’s no other way to say this, but: Cody Hatt electing to wear a hat — in this case a ballcap — the entire time feels very on brand.
- Following up on the “getting more into a flow and rhythm thing” from the end of the first half: whole lot of dunk and dunk attempts in the second half.
- Following up on the Kur Kuath bit from the first half: he jammed an alley-oop in a halfcourt set late-ish in the scrimmage, and seriously, if you don’t staple yourself to him and/or do a bad job recovering after a screen and hedge and/or just mind where he is at all times, his teammates are going to toss it in the air in his direction and let Kuath hammer dunks on you all day long.
- Your final score: White Team 77, Blue Team 56. Yeah, that came out of nowhere on you, didn’t it? It was just a four point game eight minutes earlier. That score works out to 96-70 extrapolated out to a full 40 minutes instead of 32. Feel free to take whatever information you want out of one team playing very good defense and one team playing very bad defense.
- And now, Deflections Talk! I counted five created by the Blue Team and three created by the White Team. That’s eight total in 16 minutes with a Marquette team playing defense the entire time instead of only half the time like they would in a game that counts. I don’t know if Smart and his staff told the team to set the deflection sliders to zero for this scrimmage or what, but even eight in 16 minutes works out roughly to 20 in 40 minutes of action.... and that’s well short of the 32+ that Smart professes to want from his team. Very curious about that part of things to be sure.
That’s all I’ve got. Were you there? Fire off your thoughts in the comments. Got a question about anything I saw? That’s also what the comments section is for!