Ron Jirsa Era Underway With Exhibition Win

It will not go into the permanent records at Marshall Basketball but do not tell Ron Jirsa or his Thundering Herd men's basketball team that winning the first exhibition for the new coach was not important. The Herd played against Team Dasani, of the Coaches Versus Cancer program, down the stretch like the Mid-American Conference title was on the line. If they play all season like they did in Saturday night's 77-76 exhibition win, that MAC title may not be so out of reach.

The Herd was led by senior forward Marvin Black and junior forward David Anderson who each scored 16 points on similar 6-for-8 field goal shooting nights. Team Dasani, a collection of former college standouts from all over the nation, was outrebounded by Marshall on the night, 42-to-33, as every member of the MU basketball team that played gathered at least one rebound.

"If we have emphasized anything since we arrived," said Jirsa, "it is rebounding and (getting) loose balls. Marvin had five, A.W. (Hamilton) had six, Mark (Patton) had six. Tre' (Whitted) had seven. We had lots of people chipping in, no one that played did not get a rebound."

David Anderson launches up a shot during Marshall's 77-76 exhibition win Saturday night at the Henderson Center.

Whitted, a true freshman from Wilmington, North Carolina, had a great debut for the Herd. Whitted scored 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting, hit 4-of-6 free throws and led the team in rebounding with seven. The youngster, who is known as "Rookie" by teammates, had been waiting for this all fall, according to Black. "Tre' has been talking about playing the first game since his first day of school," said Black. "He played agressive all game. You see many freshman play very tenative in their first game."

The Herd led the game by a score of 44-38 at the half and had the lead out to 14 points at the 14:49 mark on the clock in the second half. Team Dasani chipped away at the lead behind 12 second-half points from Mike Campbell of Long Island University. Greedy Daniels of UNLV also hit two three-point shots down the stretch and the lead cut to two on a Daniels shot with 5:26 left in the game.

"When you are playing against older players, they know when money time is," said Jirsa. "They hit some big shots. We knew Greedy Daniels was a good player." Jirsa said the Herd has had practices like this, where they are very good for a while, then not so good. "We have had practices just like this. Our goal tonight was to win and do the things we have to do to win the game. We did not panic in a down-one situation (late in the game)."

The teams traded the lead back and forth throughout the final five minutes. Black hit two free throws with 21 seconds left and Marshall held Team Dasani to two errant shots in the final seconds of the game to seal the win. For the Herd, Patton had nine points and Ronnie Dawn and Ardo Armpalu added six each. Daniels led all scorers with 21 points, including 3-of-5 from three-point range, while Chris Crosby of Washington State had 12 points, all coming in the first half.

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