The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Blue team dominates, Mitchell shows improvements in Blue and Gold scrimmage

Photo by Alex DeBuhr
Men’s basketball sophomore guard Stevie Mitchell (4) led the Gold team with 16 points in the Blue and Gold scrimmage at the Al McGuire Center Oct. 8.

The ramp-up toward the 2022-23 season is on for the Marquette men’s basketball team.

Marquette fans got their first glimpses of this year’s Golden Eagles team Saturday morning at the Al McGuire Center with the Blue and Gold scrimmage.

“There’s a lot of people around Marquette and Milwaukee that are very excited about the start of the basketball season and there’s nobody more excited than our team,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “We’ve had 10 practice days since we started practice and guys have really done a good job of kind building some habits.

“But for it being early October, we still have a long way to go in terms of building those habits. And that’s why we have a lot more practice to go before our first game in 30 days on November 7th.”

Here are five observations from the scrimmage:

Blue team dominates in win

Of the three returning members — Oso Ighodaro, Kam Jones and Tyler Kolek — on the Blue team, Jones impressed the most.

The 6-foot-4 guard picked up where he left off last season being a bucket for the Golden Eagles as he finished with a team-high 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field.

He also let it fly from beyond the arc, hitting four of his five 3-pointers. There was a stretch in the first half where Jones stripped the ball and hit a corner 3-pointer off a pass from senior forward Zach Wrightsil that got a “bang bang” comment from assistant coach DeAndre Haynes.

“Kam, along with Jop, those are the two most gifted scorers that we have,” Smart said. “Kam is a guy that really does not want to be a one dimensional shooter.”

Kam Jones (1) brings the ball up the court in men’s basketball’s Blue and Gold Scrimmage Oct. 8 at the Al McGuire Center. (Photo by Alex DeBuhr)

Smart said the coaching staff is pushing Jones to get inside the paint more in hopes of reaching the foul line more frequently. Jones finished second to last on the team last season in free-throw attempts at 18 amongst scholarship players.

He also showed glimpses of improvement on the defensive side of the ball, finishing with five defensive rebounds and a steal in 24 minutes of action.

“He’s gotten a lot better on the defensive end,” sophomore guard Stevie Mitchell said. “He’s becoming very vocal as well. It’s going to be a nightmare for teams, as saw today.”

Mitchell could be an X-factor

Mitchell averaged 2.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 10.8 minutes across 32 games last season off the bench.

And despite the scrimmage being just 24 minutes of actual basketball, Mitchell showed improvements and wasn’t hesitant to shoot the ball.

“My main thing was just shooting with confidence,” Mitchell said of what he worked on during the offseason. “Just being ready to shoot. Step into the shot and not hesitating. Just trusting my shot. I think getting better at that has helped me. Now they’re closing out, I can get to the basket a little easier.”

The Reading, Pennsylvania native finished with the most shot attempts (14) and paint touches across any player on the morning while knocking down 50% of his shots from the field.

“He’s got incredible energy,” Smart said. “I would say if we were to pick one energy representative of how we want to be and who we want to be, it would be Stevie Mitchell. And his job is to set that tone each and every day, regardless of circumstances, for his teammates. He did a good job of that today.”

Joplin, Ross battling injuries

Sophomore forward David Joplin and first-year guard Chase Ross both were sidelined from the scrimmage with injuries.

Ross, who Smart said calls the most athletic player he has seen in his 14 seasons as a head coach, is going through concussion protocols.

“Chase took a really hard hit the other day of practice to his head and felt much better the next day but just out of precaution he had to go into the process that is required to come back,” Smart said. “It’s still a few more days but he’ll be back soon. We’re hoping early next week.”

Meanwhile Joplin, who Smart has raved about his growth and energy, hyper-extended his knee in practice.

Smart said Joplin’s injury is seen as a minor injury by the medical staff and is expected to return to practice by next week as well.

“He was playing his butt off,” Smart said. “I don’t know if he got some clipping the first day of practice with the dunk he had but he’s just had a different energy to him.”

Sean Jones impresses

First-year guard Sean Jones, a 5-foot-10 speedy and savvy shooter, showed off his ability to create separation on the floor and hit shots.

“When Sean can attack the basket by his man and then kick it out, he’s creating close-up for somebody else and if they don’t step up, Sean has the ability to score too,” Mitchell said. “Between his speed, his handle, aggressiveness and confidence he adds a great addition to our team that will help us this year.”

He finished behind Mitchell with 11 points on 5-for-10 shooting from the field, including a few step-back 3-pointers.

“That comes with me just reading my defender, getting into him and making him think,” Jones said on his ability in finding 3-point opportunities. “There’s no worry about the drive when you are going by him so it’s pretty easy for me to step back off to be honest.”

First-year guard Sean Jones (22) looks to make a pass in men’s basketball’s Blue and Gold scrimmage Oct. 8 at the Al McGuire Center. (Photo by Alex DeBuhr )

But Smart said Jones didn’t show all his ability Saturday.

“He needs to get the ball down the floor faster than he did today,” Smart said. “He’s a guy that on the defensive end can change the game. Didn’t see enough of that today but maybe his focus coming out here to for the first time in front of fans was the offensive end and that’s a freshman thing.”

Next Up

The Golden Eagles will play two closed-door scrimmages against Loyola Chicago Oct. 15 at the Al McGuire Center and Missouri at the University of Chicago Oct. 29.

“We’re excited about kind of testing ourselves against what someone else does,” Smart said.

Between those scrimmages, the team will have an open scrimmage Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. CST at Fiserv Forum for fans.

Following the men’s scrimmage, the women’s basketball team held a closed practice. It was previously mentioned in a Marquette Athletics statement, obtained by the Marquette Wire following the cancellation of Marquette Madness both program would be hosting an open practice at some point before the season but the women’s team is not.

Until then, it is back to the lab for the men’s team to prepare for their season opener Nov. 7 vs Radford at Fiserv Forum at 7:30 p.m. CST.

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU. 

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *