"We got it started (tonight), we've got something to build on," said head coach Ron Jirsa after the exhibition win. "I was pleased with the effort. I think we are engaged, much more focused in practice and much more eager to work on our game." Jirsa was excited about the effort by Daryl Merthie, the first-year sophomore who sat out the 2005-06 season as a prop. "Merthie didn't look like a freshman. He got hot and can really stretch a defense. He sees the floor well and is a good teammate."
Marshall had four scorers in double figures, with Mark Dorris starting and scoring 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, Travis Aikens adding 16 points, despite a 0-for-6 night behind the three-point line. "Travis was shooting real well coming into the gameHe is playing the toughest part of the press," said Jirsa. "It's a fine line. When his shooting is there, he's impossible to stop." Inside the arc, Aikens hit 5-of-7 shots.
Jean Francois Bro Grebe also chipped in 12 points, five rebounds and five blocked shots. "We have got to learn to play with Francois," said Jirsa. "We played hard tonight, we've got to play a little smarter. We had the pre-season jitters, but when we got a little tired I thought we played better.
Jean Francois Bro Grebe blew past WV State's Anton Duncan in the first half Monday night. Bro Grebe scored 12 points, had five rebounds and five blocks against WV State.photos by Greg Perry/HI staff
"The press got us going, and we'll have various combinations depending on whom we are playing. We want to get stronger in the press." Point guard Chris Ross led MU with four steals to go with nine assists and six points in 28 minutes. Also playing 28 minutes was Markel Humphrey, who scored seven points on 3-for-9 shooting and led the Herd with eight rebounds. Eight players had at least four rebounds as Marshall out-rebounded the Yellow Jackets 51-45 and out-scored WVSU 44-30 in the paint.
WV State was hurt by the fact that pre-season Basketball Times Honorable Mention All-American Tony Cornett missed tonights game. Cornett, first team All-West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last season by averaging 15 points and eight rebounds per game for the 27-7 Jackets, has missed six weeks with a stress fracture in his foot. State coach Brian Poore, a former MU assistant under former head coach Greg White, said he should begin running this week and hopes to possibly have Cornett back for the opener in 11 days.
Another All-WVIAC player who was All-Tournament last year was Anton Duncan led State in scoring with 17 points and in rebounding with 14 boards. Duncan was the guy who hit the winning shot in the WVIAC Tournament Championship for State last season. Ted Scott, a second team All-WVIAC selection in 2005-06, scored 11 points in the game. "We scrimmaged Tiffin last week," said Poore. "We played significantly better tonight than that scrimmage, in which we won three of four quarters. We have to get ready for our league, but this was a good effort."
For the Herd, Tre Whitted had eight points and two rebounds in limited action, due to a hand injury. 7-foot freshman center Robby Jackson had two points, a blocked shot and four rebounds, while freshmand forward Tyler Wilkerson chipped in five rebounds, a blocked shot and two steals. Jesse Oglesby, a sophomore center who is finally healthy after nursing a broken bone in his leg for two years, had four rebounds and a blocked shot. Taurean Marshall, who missed all last season with a knee injury, returned with five assists and two rebounds.
Marshall will open the season Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Henderson Center against UNC-Greenboro of the Southern Conference. The Spartans were 12-19 last year, 4-10 in the SoCon, but return all five starters and ten lettermen. The game will be aired, starting at 3:30 p.m. with the pre-game show, on WRVC 930 AM. The Thundering Herd/ISP Sports Network will join the broadcast, with Vince Payne doing the play-by-play, after Steve Cotton and the Thundering Herd football broadcast wraps up from the Marshall at East Carolina game, which kicks off at 1 p.m. Following the basketball game, the football scoreboard and call-in show will catch listeners up on both football and basketball and take calls on the important East Division battle between the Pirates and the Herd, as well as discuss the men's opener with UNCG. Following the basketball game, the MU volleyball team will play its final regular season match with East Carolina in the Henderson Center at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free for volleyball, but tickets for basketball at $9 and $19 each. Call 1-800-THE HERD or go to www.Herdzone.com for ticket information.