Ah, do you smell that? It's the smell of freshly-varnished wood and pebbled leather balls nestling into nets made of nylon.
It's the smell of basketball season, and it has arrived, ladies and gentlemen.
The official start of the new season doesn't come until Saturday, against St. Francis (NY) at the Prudential Center. But the Blue and White scrimmage in front of about a 4/5ths- full house at Walsh Gym was good enough for most, even if it wasn't the prettiest thing in the world.
Here is the debut of the 5 Thoughts, 2011-12 Season Edition!
1. Heralds for Haralds
Mr. Karlis had already impressed me when I watched the Pirates practice after media day with his deep range and athleticism, so I knew full well that he had those traits. But he took it to another level Sunday afternoon.
He struggled shooting the ball to open the game, but didn't let that deter him from hustling (by far the most eager player on the court in those terms, by the way). Then in the last 10 minutes of the opening stanza, Karlis caught fire- he started hitting jumpers from the outside and then, he hit some more. You could see his confidence in his body language and verbal intensity. He put that athleticism on full display, elevating higher than anyone else and knocking down some great, tough shots. He impressed the crowd more and more with each play he made, even displaying a nice open court handle. At one point, he took the ball right at Herb Pope with every intention of dunking on Pope in dramatic fashion before Pope made sure he didn't by fouling him.
Karlis was the best player on the court, period. I labled him an X-factor for SHU in my Big East Preview, and he did not disappoint.
2. Freddie the Magnificent
Freddie Wilson was probably the recruit I knew the least about coming into last week. I saw him at the media day practice, and I wasn't wowed, so to speak, but I knew Wilson was a competent backup option at the point.
Well, now I think he'll definitely be not only a backup, but a great complement to Jordan Theodore. Wilson and Theodore went at each other all day long, and Wilson did more than hold his own with the quicker senior. Freddie played smart basketball, forcing only a couple drives/passes that I can recall.
His ballhandling will be crucial to Seton Hall if Coach Willard moves Theodore to the two-guard spot occasionally throughout the season. It's his greatest strength. What I did not expect was his outside shot showing itself. Given enough space, Wilson was remarkably smooth and accurate with his jumper, something that has been inconsistent with Theodore. He isn't what Theodore is in terms of being able to make dynamic plays or in terms of speed in the open court, but I think Wilson will be just fine this year playing behind Jordan (and perhaps beside him).
3. Tired yet?
The Pirates played UMass in a closed scrimmage on Saturday, the day before the B&W scrimmage, and it showed, particularly when SHU tried to get out in transition. Some plays were good, but most were run at 3/4 speed and there were a lot of errant passes. Luckily, there are no back-to-backs in college hoops, so this won't be an issue come the regular season (except maybe in Charleston). The Pirates were tired near the end, and I don't blame them after handing UMass a (reportedly) huge loss.
Sean Grennan (appendectomy), Gene Teague (concussion, according to Willard), Brandon Mobley (recovering from shoulder surgery) and Kevin Johnson (eligibility) sat out the scrimmage. Grennan spent Friday night in the hospital and quite frankly he looked like he should have still been there. He was clearly ailing, so the fact that he was even there in support of his teammates is pretty amazing. The others (and Grennan) were dressed in track suits and sitting on the benches.
5. Green means Go
The number of threes taken in this scrimmage was unreal. Willard said he still gives the roster a green light to shoot it. For Karlis, Wilson, Aaron Cosby and Fuquan Edwin (who quietly had a very good game), this was no problem. But Herb Pope took an inordinate amount of threes and didn't hit a single one. I attribute this to the generally light feeling around the practice with the scrimmage the day before. I think Pope knows he can't afford to take those shots. Hopefully, once we get into the season, I'll be right.
That's it! Until next time on the Thoughts following St. Francis (NY) and Seton Hall, this Saturday.