McEwen prepares No. 10 Marquette for Paschall, other BIG EAST stars

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McEwen prepares No. 10 Marquette for Paschall, other BIG EAST stars

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

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The Thursday before Marquette’s road trip to Providence, the Golden Eagles were looking to sweep the Friars for the second time in the Steve Wojciechowski era. There was no 17,000-plus crowd at Fiserv Forum, nor was public address announcer Mike Jakubowski exclaiming the starting lineups.

For junior guard Koby McEwen, who is redshirting this season, his game day starts in a film room for a meeting with coaches, fellow redshirt Greg Elliott, senior Matt Heldt and a couple walk-ons.

“It’s really my game day,” McEwen said. “I try to go out there and play to the best of my ability.”

The objective of the 30-minute meeting with the scout team? Prepare Marquette for some of the toughest players in the BIG EAST.

McEwen’s 6-foot-4, athletic physique means he could be tasked with simulating several different types of players. Wojciechowski said McEwen usually takes one of the opponent’s best perimeter players, but that can vary.

Some days, he’s in charge of replicating quick point guards like Seton Hall’s Myles Powell or St. John’s Shamorie Ponds.

As he went from class to the Al McGuire Center Thursday for the 2:30 p.m. meeting, he was not tasked with simulating anyone for the Providence game because he couldn’t practice. But Thursday’s session was the exception, not the norm.

“It’s not that hard (to replicate players) because a lot of the good guards in our league, they usually do certain things that I do anyway,” McEwen said.

Other days, he needs to act like a post player, such as Providence’s Alpha Diallo, which he said is much harder to do.

“(Diallo’s) game is a little different,” McEwen said. “He’s kind of like a tweener. He plays one position, but he could be the other position. … The way he moves on the court can be a little unorthodox.”

He said Powell is his favorite player to replicate.

“All the plays are run for you,” McEwen said. “And you get to shoot it every single time from anywhere.”

But Powell is not the only fun simulation he’s had. He said he associated much of that same “free” style to Ponds, who averages 19.7 points per game.

“You get to dance with the ball a little bit,” McEwen said. “You kind of just get to be free out there and do anything you want really. … Simulating any good guard is fun.”

Wojciechowski repeatedly praised McEwen’s competitiveness, citing that as one of the reasons he’s able to act like so many different players in the league.

“The best thing that Koby brings is his competitiveness because that’s an attribute that all the great (players in the conference) have,” Wojciechowski said. “Koby has that in abundance.”

McEwen’s competitiveness was on full display in interviews when asked about guarding juniors Markus Howard and Sam Hauser.

“I don’t have problems stopping Sam,” McEwen said. “I don’t have problems stopping Markus, either, and you can quote me on that.”

The fifth-year head coach also said it’s an asset he hasn’t always had.

“It’s a real advantage having (McEwen and Elliott) simulate what you’re going to see in a game because they give you a real approximation of terrific players,” Wojciechowski said. “You don’t always have that on scout teams.”

He said the scout team assignments have forced McEwen to do things he previously wasn’t comfortable doing. McEwen and Wojciechowski both said it’s also made McEwen a more vocal leader.

“He’s very vocal on the floor, and he’s really added to the atmosphere of our day-to-day practices,” Wojciechowski said.

“I still need to work on that, but I feel like that’s gotten a lot better,” McEwen said. “When I first got here, I was kind of quiet and I didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes.”

As Marquette prepared for Wednesday night’s rematch against Villanova, McEwen simulated Eric Paschall, who is 5 inches taller and 55 pounds heavier than McEwen.

“Even though (McEwen) isn’t the same height as Paschall, (McEwen) is physical and very difficult to guard,” Wojciechowski said. “It’s great to have somebody that can put pressure on the defense in ways that are similar to a guy that we’re going to face (Wednesday) night.”

This isn’t the first time McEwen has acted like Paschall. He also prepared Marquette for the 6-foot-8 standout prior to National Marquette Day.

“Paschall was actually a fun one, too,” McEwen said. “He’s a little different. For as big as he is and how strong he is, he really plays like a guard. He can really handle it. He can shoot it. He posts up as well.”

As Marquette looks to secure a share of the BIG EAST regular season title against Villanova with a win Wednesday night, he won’t be anywhere near Finneran Pavilion in Philadelphia. Since he’s redshirting the season due to NCAA transfer rules, he can’t travel with the team.

While his teammates are on the road, he said he just goes to class, exercises and works with the managers to improve his game.

He said he’s excited to see the 10th-ranked team keep winning.

“It’s been crazy to see,” McEwen said. “I’ve been more than happy to see our guys do what they’re doing this year, and I hope it continues. … It’s a great feeling for me.”

He still would prefer being on the court of Finneran Pavilion tonight instead of just the film room, though.

“Lately I’ve been getting an itch to get back out there,” McEwen said. “This time of year, I’ve been getting more and more anxious to play.”

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