SLU vs. Memphis (exhibition): Quick Thoughts


They call it “the secret scrimmage”, and almost every team nationally plays at least one. No fans or media are allowed in, so the results won’t be known. Coaches love them because it’s a chance to play a fellow D-1 team, with no fan pressure from the outcomes. Last year,  the Bills traveled to Indiana State for their annual warm-up. As for this season, Coach Jim Crews and his team will travel to Memphis to revive a former Conference USA rivalry. Coming off of the 27 point victory over Harris-Stowe, here’s some quick thoughts and things I’d like to see SLU work on in the Memphis match-up:


The toughest thing to teach a young team is how to play as one unit, especially defensively. After last game, Coach Crews said, “We need to work on communication. Not just from us to them, but especially between themselves.” That showed last week, with a lot of miscommunication leading to easy Harris-Stowe buckets. It’s not necessarily something that can be taught, but rather encouraged vigorously. As the season goes on, and the team gets closer, the communication will come.

Limit turnovers

19 turnovers against Harris-Stowe is simply unacceptable. Every team in the A-10 will run them over if they’re as sloppy and careless with the ball as they were. They’re in the process of learning the offense, and the flow of the other players on the floor, so the turnovers will decrease as certain combinations familiarize themselves with each other. Still, 19 is 6 more than they averaged during the 2013-2014 season. The silver lining? Point guard Austin McBroom didn’t turn the ball over at all, while playing the most minutes (25).

Try working the offense inside-out

32% 3-point shooting is almost as eye-opening as the 19 turnovers. Against a Memphis team with a very physical and lengthy forward (Shaq Goodwin), I’d like to see McBroom and the other guards feed it inside to John Manning, Grandy Glaze, Brett Jolly, or Austin Gillmann. Goodwin’s got the advantage in strength, but Manning and  Gilmann have a few inches that could help out. The main point here is to see if SLU can become a versatile offense, rather than a one-dimensional dribble drive team. At the end of the day, the guards will still be the “go-to guys” for this team. But just to change it up a bit, throw it into the post and give the big boys a chance to make a play. Even if they can’t make a play, kicking it back out to the talented guards like McBroom and Yacoubou creates some play-making lanes.

Keep the depth

Each of the 13 scholarship players has a legitimate chance of starting at some point this year, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Coach Crews said after the last game that there’s “only a handful of guys in the country that are going to play 35-38 minutes in a game.” With that, he implied that none of that handful are on this roster. With a surplus of bigs of similar abilities, the coaching staff will choose to play them in 15 minute bursts of high energy, and then rotate them out with fresh legs.

Lastly, the back court of Austin McBroom and Ash Yacoubou has the potential to be one of the best in the conference. After the exhibition against Harris-Stowe, McBroom said he felt “very comfortable with Ash”. Both could have exceptional seasons and even work themselves into A-10 first or second team consideration. When asked about the pressure and nerves that comes with playing his first game in over a year and half since transferring from Villanova, Ash Yacoubou replied with, simply, “I’m not scared.” And neither are his teammates. After tonight’s secret scrimmage ends, the Bills will return to the Lou to get ready for the regular season opener versus Southern Illinois on Monday.