We finally got our first glimpse of this seasons highly-anticipated basketball team Wednesday night. I don't know if you believe in omens, but you could say the season has opened with a thrilling come-from-behind victory on a last second putback dunk by Michael Qualls off a Rashad Madden miss (yes, again!). That has to be a good omen for the season, right?)
The Red team was 16 points down in the second half, but five players scored between 15 and 21 points to fuel the comeback. The White team had a chance to ice the game at the very end but Bobby Portis missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving the Red team one last shot (well, two, technically). The miss was eating at Portis afterward, as he took the blame for the loss in the press conference.
It's hard to discern too much from the Red-White scrimmage as defense tends to be lacking a bit (remember, Fred Gulley scored 24 points in last year's game). The trademark full-court pressure we all love was not really seen. Although, to be fair, the Red team did stage a pretty significant comeback after being down 16 in the second half - and the team's natural competitive instincts kicked in. A timeout was even called with about a minute left in the game.
What can we expect from the new guards?
Both Jabril Durham and Anton Beard looked very good. Beard came off the bench for the Red team and contributed 18 points and three assists. He actually led both teams in +/- with 14. He was 3-4 on threes and 7-10 overall. He played 24 minutes.
Durham started for the White team and made an impression with his quickness. He can certainly penetrate from the perimeter and get into the lane. He scored 15 points on 4-7 shooting but made all 6 of his free throws.
I expect we'll see both of them quite a bit this season.
Nick Babb came off the bench and scored five points. He didn't appear quite as polished as the other two at this point, but like the rest of the team he does have his share of athleticism.
Is Keaton Miles the new Coty Clarke?
Not exactly. He does have similar size and possibly athleticism but his skills didn't appear to be at Clarke's level, at least not tonight. Miles did score 8 points and grab 4 rebounds. He also hit a three, so he does have some range. He was 3-7 from the field but had a few baskets rim out. He'll certainly be a contributor down low this season.
How has Moses Kingsley developed?
Well, he was 9-10 from the field and scored 18 points. He also had three blocks and three steals. He was active but was opposite Portis much of the night so we didn't get to see them together. Kingsley played well though.
How good is Bobby Portis?
He looked really good tonight. Portis had a double-double in the first half alone with 19 points and 10 rebounds. The next-best rebounder was Alandise Harris with five points. Portis finished the game as the leading scorer with 28 points. He was 11-21 from the field and 5-7 from the free throw line. He also made his only three so it looks like that might still be a thing this year.
What about the other veterans?
Madden, Qualls, Bell, and Harris looked like Madden, Qualls, Bell, and Harris. All of them had nice moments throughout the scrimmage. Madden led the team with 11 assists, so he also recorded a double-double with his 17 points. It wasn't a great shooting night from him though (4-13). Qualls did nearly all his damage in the second half, scoring 19 of his 21 points in the final 20 minutes.
One of the surprises was Jacorey Williams. He had 17 points and 10 rebounds to pick up the team's third double-double. Mike Anderson said after the game that Williams was the best-conditioned athlete on the team and the game was beginning to slow down for him, so maybe we'll see more production from Williams this season.
A few. It wasn't a great shooting night from beyond the arc. Both teams were collectively 10-32. I think you'd like to see Kingsley more active on the glass (he only had three rebounds). And of course the drawback to the Red team's big comeback is that the White team allowed it to happen, and those 2nd half fallbacks we saw last season aren't what we need to see this year.
But again, the team was pretty split up with multiple likely starters on both squads, so it's hard to say too much from the game. There was a lot of potential flashed, however. Fans should be excited to see what happens when the team starts playing with all the best players playing together.