By Mateo Aycardi
The first hurdle for the 2018 men’s basketball team turned out to be Roger Williams University.
Blake Arenawas the site for the Pride’s first test of the year. After some heavily competitive tryouts that saw the best rise to the top, thePpride were ready to crack down on errors and build up some team chemistry before the season begins on Nov. 8.
The format of the scrimmage was 20 mins for starters, 10 mins for bench/young players, and then another 20 mins for starters.
The first scrimmage of the season had a number of different storylines running through it for the Pride. While there were some chemistry issues and small kinks to be worked out, the overall takeaway from the day was positive.
The Pride jumped out to a quick 7-4 lead early on in the first period. Heath Post was terrific in all-around play, corralling rebounds and dishing out some assists in the first period. The Pride failed to capitalize offensively once the second unit entered the game, however. Roger Williams guards were terrific in transition. Roger Williams’ Jeff Stockmal had a nice and-one play to cut the early Pride lead to one with 9:20 to go in the first period.
Roger Williams eventually battled back with ferocity, winning the first half 40-38.
10 Minutes: The Young Guns
The Pride bench struggled mightily, especially in the extended time they saw after the starters finished their period. Charlie Clay racked up some early fouls and a travelling violation. He did, however, manage to flash some shooting ability with a three-pointer to make it 8-3, Springfield.
Clay has looked like one of the grittiest players the Pride currently employ. There is no doubt he will soon be pushing for extended time.
Other notable newcomers featured Casey Lane as well as Daryl Costa. Lane has shown flashes of great play, but has had difficulties staying with quicker guards. During a possession with 6:23 to go in the second period, Lane gave up an and-one opportunity to Williams’ Bryan Donovan. Donovan flashed to the hoop and put his head down, finishing through contact thanks to his quickness.
Daryl Costa showed an ability to draw fouls during his time on the court. WIth 5:18 to go in the second period, he drew a foul while shooting a wing three-pointer. He made two of three attempts while adding two steals during his extended play.
Three things we learned
1. The Jake Ross Effect
Ross has picked up right where he left off last year.
With great frame and an ability to get to the rim at will, Ross was easily the Pride’s most consistent offensive weapon on Sunday.
Early on during the second period, the Pride looked tired and unmotivated offensively. The Hawks got the early jump on them and scored 17 points largely based off of transition opportunities.
Then, Ross decided to inject some energy to his teammates.
With 11:20 to go in the period, he followed up seven unanswered points with seven points of his own. He dunked the ball with ferocity on a fastbreak, and the Pride defense responded by getting the ball right back afterwards on the two ensuing defensive possessions. Ross used those opportunities to shoot a transition three-pointer and a mid-range fadeaway shot, both of which went in.
2. Healthy Dose of Pick and Roll
The Pride have used the high pick and roll in with abundance recently.
One of the most interesting things to note is how coach Charlie Brock has used multiple picks in order to find easy scoring opportunities inside. A example of this is found in the way that Ross and Jake Jacobson found their teammates in the post.
There were a number of possessions in which two high pick and rolls were executed. Two players would swing the ball from side to side, and suddenly a switch wouldn’t be communicated by the Roger Williams defense. Ross and Jacobson utilized this miscommunication to find guys inside like Cam Earle, who showed great touch from the paint on a few different possessions.
Expect more high pick and roll action as the season draws near, but also a good amount of transition opportunities from guys like Post and Ross.
3. Daryl Costa’s tremendous potential
Costa has quickly grown to be one of the most interesting prospects on this team. His shooting ability has proven to be effective at least to some degree. Because of his shooting nature, Costa was able to draw not one, but two fouls shooting three-point attempts on Sunday against the Hawks.
He ended the night with four of six shooting from the stripe. But it was his uncanny ability to sell the calls to the referees while also converting during his open looks that should grant him more playing time with the second unit.
Of course, Costa is a young guy. And with young age comes mistakes.
During the final period of scrimmage that saw the Pride up 38-37, Costa committed a foul that had both Ross and Post visibly displeased. Both were vocal about understanding the situation in the game, and Costa could only watch on as RWU took the lead on two free throws. Ross was unable to convert on the final play of the game and the Pride lost the contest in the process.
Costa has great potential in several different areas of the game, once he smooths out his situational awareness, he will become even more valuable to the team.