MU Men's Hoops Opens Sunday With WVU Tech

Marshall's men's basketball has weathered injuries, just one public exhibition and the influx of nine newcomers. Sunday, all of that is set aside as the Herd plays for real for the first time in 2008-09 when Marshall hosts the WVU Tech Golden Bears. While Marshall was having a closed scrimmage last week with VMI (who upset UK in Lexington on Friday night), the Bears have already played six games.

"They are an NAIA school," said Donnie Jones, the second-year Marshall head coach. "They get to start earlier under those rules." Tech is off to a 4-2 start, winning its last two games at Virginia Intermont, 90-78, and in Montgomery over Southern Virginia, 83-75.

The leading scorer for the Bears has been Sam Robertson, a 6-foot-6 senior out of Jacksonville, Fla., with 13.8 points per game and leads the team with 6.8 rebounds per game. The second leading scorer is 6-foot-6 junior Robby Marshall, who is from Syracuse, N.Y. who averages 12.2 points per game. 6-foot-1 Victor McGee, a senior guard from Jackson, Tenn., averages 6.2 rebounds and 9.8 points per game. Point guard Sack Thomsen, a 6-foot-1 guard from New Berlin, N.Y., averages 9.5 points and 4.5 assists per game.

Tech head coach Bob Williams likes his team to shoot the three, already launching 102 in six games, or 17 per game. Thomsen is eight of 18 so far, shooting 44 percent, and McGee is 4-for-9, also 44 percent. The team is shooting just 35 percent, making 36 of those 102 attempts. Tech has out-rebounded its opponents at a rate of 43.3-to-35.3 per game out of the Mid-South Conference.

Jones has five returning players and three returning starters, but two of the three were sidelined until late in November. Senior Markel Humphrey led the Herd with 13.9 points per game, but has battled a stress fracture in his foot. Junior Tyler Wilkerson led the Herd in rebounds, but missed a couple of weeks with a broken bone in his hand. Jones said both will go on Sunday. C-USA All-Freshman Team member Tirrell Baines is the third returning starter.

Marshall has three transfer who sat out last year, but Chris Lutz, a three-point specialist from Purdue, hurt his knee and is wearing a brace. It didn't affect his shot, however, as he scored 22 points in the exhibition game, hitting 6-of-8 from three. Brandon Powell transferred from Florida, coming north with Jones last year. Another transfer is former Georgetown player, Octavius Spann, was injured in an spring auto accident and could not work out until late in the summer. Spann is ready to go for the opener, practicing all fall while keeping an eye on his brother, senior Herd receiver Emmanuel Spann.

Freshman big men include Dago Pena and Kore White. MU even had to cancel a promised open to the public practice last weekend they were so short of healthy players. Who will go Saturday is still up in the air.

The other returnees are senior guard Darryl Merthie, who is very close to regaining a year he sat out for academics for 2009-2010, and junior Adam Williams. The other players are 6-foot-10 sophomore center Marcus Goode and freshmen guards Damier Pitts and Shaquille Johnson.

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