Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
The smoke cleared by the tunnel, and one by one men’s basketball’s freshmen received their first tastes of the raucous crowd the black and gold are accustomed to greeting.
That crowd consisted of thousands of fans who turned out to see the 2019-20 team in action for the first time at the Siegel Center for the annual intrasquad scrimmage.
“It tells you the type of people that support VCU basketball,” coach Mike Rhoades said. “They’re awesome, they’re so into it. To be a college basketball player, and you get to come to a scrimmage and you see this crowd — you’re a very lucky basketball player.”
All five freshmen saw playing time in the scrimmage, and Rhoades expects to continue to play them throughout the season.
“It’s part of being a freshman in college,” Rhoades said. “I tell these guys all the time, we’re going to throw them into the fire, throw them to the wolves and some days you get eaten and some days you figure it out.”
Freshman guard Bones Hyland made a splash in the game, logging 10 points, including two 3-pointers. The Wilmington, Delaware, native has been improving each day at practice, Rhoades said.
“Bones is a very good player, he’s talented, he’s just got to learn like all of us in our freshman year in college,” Rhoades said. “And then when you’re playing against all-conference players in practice every day, they’re seniors, they’re men. But he’s battling every day.”
Hyland was the only freshman to play all 26 minutes of the scrimmage.
Freshman forward Hason Ward showed off his 6-foot-9 frame in the contest, soaring above the rim to rebound and tip in missed shots.
Rhoades said having a player like Ward on his team is always a good thing.
“Some of the rebounds he got and some of the balls he kept alive [were] above the rim where other guys can’t go to,” Rhoades said. “When you have a player that can get higher above the rim than anyone else and gets you extra possessions, gets you good defensive rebounds.”
Ward logged 8 points and eight rebounds in the annual scrimmage, including an alley-oop dunk. The Barbados native was described as a “good listener” by Rhoades.
“He plays with great energy and the guys really like him because he listens,” Rhoades said. “He listens to the older guys and he listens to the coaches. He’s going to play because he plays with great energy.”
Freshman guard Tre Clark had a highlight-reel 3-pointer from the corner late in the contest, after avoiding junior forward Marcus Santos-Silva’s block attempt, collecting himself and draining the three.
His given name is Jimmy, but everybody calls him Tre.
— VCU Basketball (@VCU_Hoops) October 13, 2019
Rhoades noticed that Clark can make plays when he’s on the floor.
“Tre Clark has great ability, he can really guard the ball and make plays with the ball in his hands,” Rhoades said.
Clark finished the night with 6 points, both from 3-pointers. In his 13 minutes of action, Clark logged two steals and one assist.
Freshman forward Jarren McAllister logged 7 points and three rebounds. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Freshman guard Arnold Henderson VI logged six minutes of action, scoring 5 points and going 2-for-2 from the field.
“Jarren McAllister plays so hard,” Rhoades said. “Arnold Henderson, kid’s a tough kid that battles everyday. Those guys are building confidence playing against an older group.”
Men’s basketball hosts Virginia State University in an exhibition Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.