Mason shines in scrimmage

At the Friday night open scrimmage it was clear that the men's basketball team had made progress in the week since their last public scrimmage: the game was more competitive, players gave a complete 40 minute effort and both sides played team basketball.

After the exhibition it was also evident that head coach Tom Crean has lofty expectations for his players this season.

Sophomore Dameon Mason scored 26 points on 12-of-15 shooting and grabbed five rebounds for the blue team, which won 65-55, but his coach wasn't completely satisfied with the performance.

"I thought he played with a real purpose," Crean said. "He's improving all the time, but he's got to become a lock-up defender for us and a seven, eight, nine rebound-a-game guy for us if we're going to really be good down the road."

Another blue team member who posted a big number was junior Chris Grimm. He grabbed 11 rebounds — only the Gold team's Marcus Jackson had more — but Crean still wants more.

"(Former NBA Assistant Coach) Mike Thibault said it best, he said, 'He needs to play like Dennis Rodman,'" Crean said.

"And I said, 'Right now he's trying to play a little too much like Dirk Nowitzki.' Let's get him back to banging and going to the glass."

On the other side of the ball, Todd Townsend consistently attacked the basket and drew a number of fouls. The senior scored 18 points for gold, half of which came from the free-throw line and drew the ire of the opposition.

"Todd is killing us," blue team coach Brian Wardle said midway through the second half after Townsend sliced through the defense yet again.

However, Crean wasn't as impressed.

"I wanted him to be ready to shoot more. One of our weaknesses offensively is we're not ready to shoot enough," he said.

"I want Todd to feel very comfortable behind the three-point line. Driving is good, but driving to dish is better. He needs to offensively rebound for us at a high level and he needs to defend no matter what he's called on to do defensively — on the ball, off the ball, man, zone, you name it."

Outsider's Opinion

Thibault, now the head coach of the WNBA's Connecticut Sun, was in town to conduct the 5th Annual Marquette Women's Basketball Coaching Clinic the following morning. He sat next to Crean for the scrimmage and had good things to say about the Golden Eagles.

"Obviously (senior) Travis Diener is playing at an unbelievably high level. There can't be many guards in the country better than him," he said.

"I think that their front line players are improving. I like their young players and the newer players in the program I've been impressed with.

"I think (junior) Joe Chapman is improving and Todd's just been kind of solid. He knows what he needs to do to help the team win. I think they're going to have a good year."

This-n-That

The team's first exhibition game of the season will be Wednesday against Lewis (Ill.) at the Al McGuire Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

Junior Steve Novak suffered a high ankle sprain in practice before the scrimmage. He didn't play Friday night and his status for the exhibition is not known.

Redshirt sophomore Dan Fitzgerald, who was coming back from a concussion, suffered a blow to the head and didn't play in the second half.

Keelyn Tyler, a 6-1 freshman guard from Milwaukee Custer, has been added to the roster as a walk-on.