What can you learn from a scrimmage?
On Saturday, the Aggies basketball team learned it has a lot of guys ready to work. It also has a lot of work to do, less than one week away from its opening exhibition against Grand Canyon (Ariz.).
"It was definitely encouraging," senior forward Kyisean Reed said. "We have a lot of new guys out there, and everybody's playing hard. We just need to think hard, too."
Utah State had its first scrimmage of the season on Saturday, bringing in officials and running five 10-minute sessions, mixing up the teams in between. Although the scrimmage was closed to the public and media, it gives the Aggies a better sense of what they have.
It's not much comparison to a real game, of course, but it's also the best comparision the Aggies have so far to how some of the new personnel will mesh on the court.
"In practice, we stop and start a lot," junior wing Danny Berger said. "This is more of a game feel. It takes a while to get used to."
Berger led the team with 25 points, going 5-for-10 with his long-range shots. Spencer Butterfield, a transfer expected to contribute in the backcourt, also had a strong shooting day, scoring 18 points, and netting nine rebounds.
The scrimmage offered some insight into what roles some of the big men might occupy this season.
Leading the team in rebounds was returner Ben Clifford and transfer Jarred Shaw, each with 10 apiece. Reed led the scoring effort in the frontcourt with 16 points, going 6-for-9. He had a highlight-reel fastbreak dunk that teammates were talking about afterward. Sophomore Jordan Stone had 15 points on a 6-for-8 performance.
Shaw chipped in 12 points, but was only 5-for-12 shooting. Shaw has been described by fellow players and himself as someone who shoots more from midrange and has more finesse, but he showed physicality by getting a team-high three blocks. Fellow transfer Matt Lopez had nine points but only three rebounds.
Rebounding for the team, as well as defense, is still a work in progress.
"We've got some size, and those guys are inside banging," Berger said. "But we have to work on making sure the ball isn't getting tipped all over. We're working on getting up with both hands and grabbing it."
At point guard, TeNale Roland made a case for himself by dishing out a team-high eight assists and scoring seven points. Marcel Davis had five assists and seven points, and Riley Bradshaw, also a freshman, had six points and four assists. All three had three turnovers a piece.
Preston Medlin had a characteristic performance, shooting 6-for-13 for 17 points, adding four assists and four rebounds. Of all the roster, Medlin's spot and minutes are more clearly established as he returns from a first team all-WAC season.
But the one thing only the coaching staff has been able to see is how these players combine on the floor. The statistics from a closed scrimmage only speak so much. Chemistry may be the ultimate factor in Utah State's starting lineup, as well as who is showing a head for the game.
It's definitely something to chew on until the public gets its first real peak at the new Aggies on Friday.
"It felt good to play that way," Reed said. "Can't wait for the real thing."
Stats from the scrimmage (courtesy of Utah State Athletics)
#0 M. Davis - 7 pts. (2-7 FG, 1-5 3FG, 2-2 FT)#1 B. Clifford - 6 pts (3-11 FG, 0-2 3FG, 10 REBS)#4 M. Lopez - 9 pts (4-5 FG, 1-1 FT)#5 J. Shaw - 12 pts (5-12 FG, 2-2 FT, 10 REBS) #12 D. Berger - 25 pts (9-14 FG, 5-10 3FG, 2-2 FT) #13 P. Medlin - 17 pts (6-13 FG, 3-7 3FG, 2-2 FT)#15 M. Jean - 3 pts (1-9 FG, 1-7 3FG) #20 T. Roland - 7 pts (3-7 FG, 1-5 3FG) #21 S. Butterfield - 18 pts (7-14 FG, 3-8 3FG, 1-2 FT)#22 Q. Taylor - 3 pts (1-2 FG, 1-2 3FG)#24 R. Bradshaw - 6 pts (2-5 FG, 2-5 3FG)#25 J. Stone - 15 pts (6-8 FG, 3-4 FT)#32 Q. Bair - 6 pts (2-7 FG, 2-7 3FG) #34 K. Reed - 16 (6-9 FG, 4-7 FT)