Herd Basketball Debuts at Thursday Night Thunder

Marshall men's basketball season got underway tonight at the annual 'Thursday Night Thunder', held at the Cam Henderson Center. A 20-minute scrimmage was the main event, and featured the debut of several new players in coach Greg White's lineup.

The announced crowd of 4,397 got their first up-close look at Oklahoma State transfer David Anderson, Keith Archie, Ronny Dawn, Ronald Blackshear, and Richard Wilson. Anderson won the slam-dunk contest, flinging his 6-8, 210 pound frame through the air with ease.

Marshall fans also finally got to see forward William Butler play. Butler, a 6-7, 210 pound transfer from Santa Fe Community College, injured his knee at the same event in 2000 and spent the year rehabilitating. Butler was a bit antsy before tonight's event. "I was real nervous as soon as I stepped out on the court," Butler said after the scrimmage. "The only thing that came to mind was my injury last year. But with what happened to coach White, I can overcome anything. That's basically how I did it. Coach White was my strength."

Butler was alluding to Marshall coach Greg White, who did not attend the event due to the loss of his home last week to fire. Assistant coach Jeff Burkhamer ran the show in White's absence.

William Butler and J.R. VanHoose at Thursday Night Thunder.

"We did some pretty good stuff," was Burkhamer's summation of the 20-minute scrimmage. "We ran some simple stuff, got great shots for the right guys." For the record, the Green team beat the White team 42-37.

Temple transfer Ron Blackshear hit a 30-foot three-pointer with less than a minute remaining to break the 37-37 tie. Blackshear missed a 25-footer, and put up the 30-footer moments later. "Blackshear's not going to turn down a lot of shots," Burkhamer said. "He loves playing at 26 feet."

"I know I can hit that shot, any time," said Blackshear matter-of-factly. "I can hit 35-footers."

Earlier in the evening, Marshall fans were treated to a short scrimmage by new coach Royce Chadwick's Marshall women's squad; a slam-dunk contest; a hot-shot contest that pitted men's and women's team members against one another, won by J.R. VanHoose and Melissa Arnold; plus a student three-on-three tournament.

In the men's scrimmage, William Butler scored 12 points and grabbed a game-high six rebounds. Blackshear had eight points, and Ardo Armpalu had six points, five rebounds.

J.R. VanHoose was high man on the White Team totem pole, hitting for 16 points and grabbing four rebounds, while Tamar Slay finished with nine points, three assists on the evening.

"It's just good to be out in front of the fans," senior forward J.R. VanHoose said. "Everybody played very well tonight, I thought. I hope this is a sign of things to come. If we can play a little bit better than we did tonight all year, and keep up the intensity like we have been the last couple days of practice, we'll be fine this year."

Marshall's men's team will open the season in an exhibition against Worldwide Basketball on Monday, November 5 in the Henderson Center. The women's squad opens in an exhibition against Ohio AAU on November 2 at 5pm in the Henderson Center.

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