"He told me to get in there and rebound and ‘hustle like you always do,'" the University of Louisville reserve sophomore forward said. "And that's what I did."
But that wasn't the only thing. Van Treese sparked the Cardinals, who trailed by one at intermission, to an 80-66 victory over Marshall on Saturday in front of 21,262 fans Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center.
His back-to-back dunks started a 13-2 run and were part of UofL's strong beginning to the second half – the Cards outscored the Thundering Herd 26-7 in the first nine minutes after intermission – as Louisville (4-0) won its third straight game in the Global Sports Shootout.
"If I didn't start Stephan Van Treese in the second half then we probably don't win the game," UofL head coach Rick Pitino said. "He made the big plays that broke it open and we were able to maintain the lead."
That's because Marshall (3-2), coached by former Pittsburgh assistant Tom Herrion, played much like the Cards' Big East Conference nemesis.
"I don't think they believed how physical this team is on the back board, so there was a lesson learned there," said Pitino, whose team had four players score in double figures in the win.
"Chattanooga beat them at Marshall, so they thought it was going to be blowout time. We tried to explain to them that this was a very athletic team that is going to push you in the back and get the rebounds.
"We said, ‘You are playing Pittsburgh without as much cohesiveness because they have a first-year coach, they run the same sets offensively and the same rebounding mentality.' The Marshall kids did a great job. They knew what they had to do to stay in the game, and they did it."
A layup by Peyton Siva and a dunk by Terrence Jennings gave UofL a quick 4-0 lead. A three-pointer by Preston Knowles boosted Louisville's lead to 7-2 before the Thundering Herd ran off eight straight points. Marshall took a 10-7 lead on Tirrell Baines' reverse layup. Moments later a tip-in by Baines made it 14-11.
The Cards responded, though, led by Elisha Justice. The freshman point guard, who was pressed into action when Siva picked up two quick fouls, hit a three-pointer to start a 16-2 UofL run. Justice capped the surge with a layup and an assist to Mike Marra for a three that gave the Cards a 27-16 advantage.
However Marshall wasn't intimidated. Led by sophomore guard DeAndre Kane, who scored 12 first-half points, the Thundering Herd rolled off 15 of the next 17 points to tie the game at 29.
Rakeem Buckles' basket ended the Thundering Herd's run, but Marshall led 34-33 at halftime on Baines' buzzer-beating rebound basket.
The Thundering Herd outrebounded UofL 23-19 in the first half, including 14-10 on the offensive end. The latter led to a 14-8 Marshall advantage in second-chance points.
Buckles had one rebound in 13 minutes at halftime, while Van Treese had one in seven minutes, which prompted Pitino to start one sophomore in place of the other.
"Even in the first half (Van Treese) had some rebounds taken away from him that he normally gets," Pitino said. "What you have to do is play every single team differently with a different game plan. You have to understand their strengths and our team tonight did not understand the strengths of this basketball team."
But Van Treese, who missed a one-handed dunk attempt in his only shot try of the first half, knew his role heading into the second half.
"We needed more rebounding, that's why I started," said Van Treese, who is 1 inch taller and 25 pounds heavier than Buckles.
His impact was almost immediate. After the two teams traded threes (by Marra and Dago Pena) Van Treese's follow dunk gave Louisville a lead (at 38-37) it wouldn't give up with 18:11 remaining. He followed up a steal on Marshall's next possession with a dunk before Jennings hit 3 of 4 free throws, then added a layup. Siva's dunk and pull-up jumper then gave UofL a 49-39 lead.
"Stephan's a hard worker," said Siva, who admitted that the bench gave Van Treese some good-natured ribbing after he missed his dunk attempt in the first half. "He said his wrist hit the rim when he tried to dunk it and we said, ‘Hmm, mmm.'"
Siva, Buckles and Marra led Louisville with 12 points apiece, while Justice added 10 points. Jennings, Gorgui Dieng and Van Treese added eight each for UofL, which shot 51.5 percent (17 for 33) from the field in the second half and 46.9 percent (30 of 64) for the game.
The Cards were helped by the fact that the Thundering Herd were clanking free throw after free throw. Marshall missed 16 of its 29 tries (44.8 percent) from the foul line.
"Give Louisville credit, they're a very good defensive team," said Herrion, whose team shot 38.7 percent (24 of 62) from the field and had 19 turnovers. "Let's stop with all the talk about because coach Pitino doesn't have a draft(.)net first round pick or NBA mock draft lottery star that they're supposed to be down. That's an insult to the program, an insult to the staff recruiting them and an insult to the Hall of Fame coach. Enough with the ‘Louisville being down' (talk), they're a different makeup of the team. They're an outstanding team, one of the winningest programs in basketball."
UofL hosts Florida International, coached by former NBA great Isiah Thomas, at 7 p.m. Wednesday night.
"Any time you can learn lessons with a victory it is a good thing because we are playing good defense, we are switching properly and we are doing really good tings in the passing lanes and we are disrupting things with our press," said Pitino, whose team was outrebouned 43-42, including 25-19 on the offensive end. "But you can't give them second opportunities and they kept getting them. If you look at the shooting percentages, the deflections are in the high 40s every game. That is great, but tonight we didn't get it done."