MU Basketball Is Back With Tip Off Club Event

Marshall Basketball returned last night to the Henderson Center. Both the team and the arena are sporting a new look, with renovations to the floor and scoreboards for the arena and a new head coach for the Herd. It was "Monday Night Madness," sponsored by the Marshall Tip-Off Club, and it gave MU fans a chance to check out the building and the 2003-04 Thundering Herd men's team.

After warm-ups by the band and cheerleaders, and a few contests for the fans, Marshall took the floor with smoke and strobe lights for the players and their pictures on the new large replay board on the East wall of the arena. David Anderson talked about what it was like to be back out in front of Herd fans. "It feels good to get back in front of the crowd," said Anderson. "I haven't been on the court for nearly a year. "We've got a new system and a new coach and trying to get ready for the season. The hardest part is learning what Coach Jirsa is giving us, having been with the old coach for two years you already know his sweet spots. Learn how to walk again, from the beginning.

A dunk contest was held between Anderson, Marvin Black and newcomer Eric Smith, a junior college addition to the Herd who grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, playing basketball with Black. Smith won the contest with a through-the-legs dunk, bringing both the fans and teammates to their feet. "Yeah, I told my buddies I had something special for them. I loved this, I loved the crowd," said Smith. "It felt good to be out here with the team. It has not been hard to fit in (as a new guy). The guys have picked me up, helped me adjust to the new environment. It's a good situation for all of us,"

Marshall was limited to only 11 players in the scrimmage, as Ardo Armpalu was held out with a hamstring injury. Marshall added two walk-ons about one week ago, Adam Zimmerman and Taurean Marshall, to help with practice depth but the team will be short of big men all season. LaVar Carter feels the Herd can cover underneath with the players they have. "With us having Mark, Ardo, DA, all of us can play the four or five (forward or center)," said Carter. "There's not much difference in those positions. I believe if we have to step it up we will step it up."

On fouls being a problem, Carter said, "As long as we are playing hard it will be alright. If you play hard, you get five fouls." Carter was almost relieved that Armpalu was out. "Ardo is a beast. Believe me, guarding him (all the time in practice) before the walk-ons was outrageous. You cannot move him."

Leading all scorers in a Green-51, White-35 game was senior forward Marvin Black, who scored 21 points for the Green. "Our main objective tonight was to come out and have fun. We weren't sharp, but that was not the main objective tonight," said Black. "We tried to execute the offense, entertain the crowd. "I picked up a couple of silly fouls and I've been notorious for picking up silly fouls. It's something I have to work on as a player. We have to understand the team is going to have a short bench, we cannot pick up silly fouls." Black talked about what this year has been like so far. "We are not going to get Coach Jirsa's system right away, it is a very thorough system but we have to go out and work on it," said Black. "We have a vision of what he wants; we just have to work hard to get it."

Other scoring in double figures included Carter with 13 for the White and Mark Patton with 15, including one three-pointer, for the Green. Anderson and Ronnie Dawn had nine each for the White and freshman guard Tre' Witted and point guard A.W. Hamilton both had five. Hamilton also had six assists.Enoch Bunch, Smith and Zimmerman had two points while Marshall, the player, had one three-pointer.

Marshall's first exhibition will be November 8 against "Coaches Against Cancer" at 7:00 p.m. They will play a second exhibition on November 15 at 2:00 p.m. and open on November 21, a Friday game, against UNC-Wilmington. The Seahawks have made the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons. The game starts at 8:00 p.m. and is part of a triple-header at the Henderson Center on November 21. The Marshall women's basketball team will open the day's action with two games in the Fifth-Third Bank MU Classic, starting at 3:00 p.m. The MU women play at 5:30 p.m.

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