Friday, Nov. 6, 2009 | 1:32 a.m.
Oh, and five 5-minute scrimmages inside the Cox Pavilion practice gym ended with a bang Thursday afternoon.
With officials controlling the games and managers keeping the scoreboard tally, Wallace blistered the twine by unofficially nailing six of his seven 3-point attempts.
Afterward, with coach Lon Kruger directing and polishing some set plays and defensive schemes, Wallace sank another 3-pointer on Steve “Chopper” Jones.
Jones paused, put his hands down and palms out, and slowly turned around to his right at Wallace to give him an incredulous look.
Onto the action:
Game 1 – Black 8, White 6
In a mostly sloppy opener, Wallace’s 3-pointer from the left corner with 30 seconds remaining decided it.
There were only four field goals made, showing that three weeks of running against nobody but themselves just might be getting old.
Good thing they leave today for the private scrimmage Saturday morning at Long Beach State.
Now, about that Southern California traffic …
Game 2 – Black 14, White 12
New guards Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins are not shy. They’ve been given an edict to shoot when open, and the duo hasn’t backed down from the challenge.
They combined to launch 18 shots in the five scrimmages. They made seven, and two were 3-pointers by Hawkins.
But he learned a lesson when he missed a 3-pointer from the right side on the Black squad’s first possession. Tre’Von Willis, defending Hawkins, raced to the other end after Hawkins missed.
Former prep summertime traveling teammate Derrick Jasper zipped a half-court bullet to Willis, who sailed in for the easy layup and 2-0 lead.
Chace Stanback added a soft dunk from the right side to give the White a 4-0 edge, and Darris Santee converted two free throws after getting fouled inside for a 9-3 advantage.
But the White got only a Willis 3-pointer the rest of the way to drop the game.
The confident rookies did most of that damage for the Black, as Marshall sank two free throws, Hawkins hit a fall-away jumper, Marshall scored on a strong inside drive and then on an 18-footer over Stanback for the final points.
Of course, Wallace made an impact when his 3-pointer from the left side on Bellfield gave the Black its first lead, at 12-9, with 40 ticks remaining.
Game 3 – Black 12, White 10
This is when the walk-ons started to flourish.
Wallace gave the winners a boost from the start with another 3-pointer, taking advantage of a little slip by Bellfield on the right side.
Todd Hanni, the sturdy walk-on guard from Indiana, sank a 3-pointer with the help of a little “Nellie” bounce.
(Kids, that’s Golden State coach Don Nelson, who had the knack of getting jumpers that bounced high off the rim to somehow drop through the net way back when he played for the Boston Celtics.)
Walk-on guard Tyler Norman, who came home after an unsavory stint at Iowa State, hit a jumper, and Hanni followed that with a 3-pointer from the left corner.
Three turnovers in its final five possessions doomed the White.
Game 4 – White 16, Black 8
Wallace started the scoring with another 3-pointer, for the White, with Norman defending him but a step away.
A series of nine possessions in a row won’t endear a few players to coaches. The first six didn’t include a point, and four of the last seven were turnovers.
Then Wallace – surprise! – ended the ugliness with a 3-pointer from the left corner.
Bellfield went coast-to-coast for a layup and Hawkins drilled a 3-pointer on Willis from the right corner to give the White its big edge.
Over the past couple of weeks, Kruger has had his players run four 5-minute scrimmages when officials have come out and the scoring has been tracked.
This was different.
“One more!” yelled Kruger, slowly clapping his hands.
It would be a different game, all right.
Game 5 – Black 20, White 12
Just eight seconds into it, Wallace canned a 3-pointer from the left corner. A year ago, he returned to the shooting style that powered him at Mesa (Ariz.) Mountain View High.
It paid dividends as he made valuable contributions as a sophomore, and he might parlay early success this season into an even bigger role.
But back to the game and bubbling drama.
Rookie power forward Carlos Lopez’s free throw gave the White a 6-2 lead when the Black went on a tear.
Willis sliced in under the right side and slipped in a layup on the other side with his right hand, Santee dunked in transition, Chopper Jones sank two free throws and then a 3-pointer.
And Hanni nailed a 3-pointer to boost the Black’s lead to 14-10. On the sideline, Matt Shaw, wearing white, yelled, “C’mon White, we’re not dead yet!”
Eighty-nine seconds remained. Bellfield used a power drive through the left side to sink a close shot and get fouled. Tied up, Stanback and Willis tripped over the baseline.
Down goes Stanback! Down goes Willis!
There was grabbing. There were stares. A second of intrigue, signifying nothing. Both laughed about it after practice, saying that’s just basketball.
Kruger has been stressing that the Rebels will need to be tougher, more physical, this season to have any hope of a March run. Three weeks into practice, that’s what Kruger and his assistants finally saw Thursday.
Now, it’s time to see what they can do against somebody else.