Marshall Tops Wheeling Jesuit, 87-58

Marshall got the kind of three-point shooting it expected by junior Chris Lutz, when he transferred to Marshall from Purdue. The former Boilermaker didn't disappoint as he hit 6-of-8 threes and scored a game-high 22 points as the Herd took down Wheeling Jesuit University, 87-58, at the Cam Henderson Center Saturday night. MU threw up 39 threes, a number coach Donnie Jones said was due to the zone.

"We have got to watch the film, but we haven't worked on zone very much," said Jones, who begins his second season at the helm of the Marshall men's program after an inaugural 16-14 mark last season. "We probably haven't spent 30 minutes on the zone in the first 14 days. We thought they would play us some in man-to-man, that's what we were hoping, at least a little bit so we could get some practice against it because that is what we will see 70-80 percent of the time. They played zone, and we didn't really have a lot of zone stuff in, but it was good for our guys to see it and to work against it."


Tirrell Baines hauled in one of his 10 rebounds over Wheeling Jesuit's Joe Suchy in the first half. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Jones doesn't expect to shoot as many threes as the Herd did tonight, but was happy with the shooting he saw from the team. "As you can see, we have a lot better shooters this season. We'll get better from it and we have two weeks before we open. We had only three returners out there tonight. These guys have learned a new system in 14 days."

Lutz made 8-of-11 shots, including the 6-of-8 from three. A player who led the Big Ten in three-point shooting in 2006-07 at 47.2 percent was glad to finally be back on the court after sitting out last year as a transfer.

"It was great to get out there with my teammates," said Lutz. "I've been playing with all these guys for so long but to finally get out there and play for real was great. My teammates did a great job of moving the ball around and finding me when I was open. It's great when they leave me open as much as they did (tonight)."

Also shooting the three well were freshman Dago Pena, who hit 3-of-6 downtown to score 11 total points and seven rebounds in his first action in college. Damier Pitts, the freshman point guard, was 3-of-9 from three while junior Adam Williams nailed his only try from behind the arc.

Tirrell Baines picked up a double-double on the evening, scoring 15 points on 5-of-9 from the field and 5-of-6 from the line to go with 10 rebounds, eight on the offensive glass. "I played well, and we played good as a team. I got my teammates involved." Dunk "I always want to dunk, go up strong with it. I got one and that's better than none."


Dago Pena put up two of his 11 points over Wheeling Jesuit's Joe Suchy in the first half. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Jones is happy to see Baines continuing to improve, as the sophomore was good enough last year to be named to the All-Conference USA All-Freshman team. "He plays with great passion and great energy but has become a more complete player," said Jones.

Marshall had Pitts and senior Darryl Merthie playin the point on the evening, and Marshall as a team had 21 assists on 31 made field goals. Merthie, very close academically to getting back his first year when he sat out as a prop, scored six points, had five assists (tops on the team), no turnvoers and three steals in just 14 minutes. Pitts had nine points, three assists and two turnovers in 21 minutes.

"We did a good job of moving the ball around," said Lutz, who added three assists and two steals. "We forced a lot of turnovers and speed the game up a little bit, make them uncomfortable." Baines agreed with his teammate. "We wore them down," said Baines of the Cardinals.

Also for the Herd, freshman Kore White socred no points but grabbed five rebounds while Marcus Goode has a 3-for-5 shooting night and had six points to go with five rebounds. Octavius Spann scored eight points with four rebounds and two steals, Brandon Powell had five points, two assists, a block and a steal and Shaquille Johnson had two points, a rebound, four assists and two steals as Marshall forced WJU into 28 turovers. For the Cardinals, Maqsood Harrington had 15 points, Cedric Harris had 11 points and five assists and Derek Wise had six points and 10 rebounds from his two-guard position.

Overall, it was a good first night, and a good first game for the freshman and first time out for the transfers and Goode, the sophomore center who sat out last year with academics. "It the first time we got a lot of those guys out there in front of a crowd," said Jones. "Chris hasn't played in front of a crowd for almost two years. Brandon hasn't played in two years, and really didn't play at Florida at all. Octavius Spann never played at Georgetown, he was on the team but never got in the game. Marcus hasn't played in nearly three years.

"It was a big deal to get them out there, no matter who they played with. That's what good about exhibition games. Everybody doesn't know everyone very well yet." Two players who the fans and team haven't seen much so far are returning starters Markel Humphrey and Tyler Wilkerson, who of who are out with injury. Humphrey (a stress fracture in his foot) and Wilkerson (broken bone in hand) were dressed alike tonight, and promised members of the media they would return together in about ten days.

Jones said they will take their time with the two players. "We told this basketball team, 'Great teams win with ten guys,'" said Jones. All in all, not a bad first outing against a team that will not really look like many of the teams the Herd will play in the non-conference season and in C-USA. "We weren't able to run plays. We ran some motion, cutting and passing," said Jones. "But if you play a team like Wheeling, most of the time they have five guards out there, and one 6-9 guy. They can all run, pass and catch and handle, so its hard to get transition. But we still put up 87 points. We had to work against the clock, sometimes 20 seconds in, to get shots against that zone."

While this was the only exhibition game open the public and media, Marshall will get a visit next Saturday from an old foe from the days in the Southern Confernce. "We will scrimmage VMI (Virginia Military Institute) next Saturday. We'll play them once in the morning, then in the afternoon again with officials but it has to be closed due to NCAA rules about scrimmaging a Division I team. But we bring in VMI, who led the nation in scoring last year and who plays like we do." Jones will also have two inter-squad scrimmages before the opener with WVU Tech on Sunday, November 16, at 2 p.m. in the Henderson Center.

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There was other news for Marshall on Saturday, and it was on the recruiting front. Scout.com, (Herd Insider is a member of the Scout Network) reported that Hassan Whiteside had been close to making a decision for a while. But this weekend he opted to end his recruitment during an official visit. For the second year in a row, the Herd has picked up a top recruit from the state of North Carolina, a highly regarded prospect. Last year it was Damier Pitts signing with the Herd out of Hargrave Academy and Charlotte, N.C. This year the Thundering Herd picked up a commitment from Hassan Whiteside.

Whiteside, a 6-foot-11, 210-pound big man, committed to Marshall on Saturday while in for an official visit. "When I was sitting down and watching footage of their games (and) I liked their style and felt that I fit in," Whiteside told Dave Telep of Scout.com and Evans Daniels of ScoutHoops.com.

Whiteside is playing at The Patterson School in Lenoir, N.C., the same school that sent both Baines and Goode to Marshall. His coach, Chris Chaney, is very high on the player who has only two seasons of organized basketball under his belt, and had this to say about Whiteside to Dave Telep of Scout.com on Friday. "A lot of people are calling about him," Chaney said. "He's really high on Marshall and Charlotte. He's getting calls from a lot of big schools like N.C. State, Kentucky and Connecticut. I think he wants to do something early."

Whiteside, a four-star prospect and the No. 19 center prospect in the nation, according to Scout.com, was also recruited by UNC-Charlotte, North Carolina State, Kentucky, Connecticut, Xaqvier, St. John's, Nevada, South Florida and South Carolina. He is Marshall's first verbal commitment in the 2009 class. The Herd got a verbal from guard Chase Fischer of Ripley (W.Va.) last spring, but the sophomore will not come to Marshall before the fall of 2011.

The bio on Whiteside at Scout.com: "His basketball career is in its infancy stages. Relatively new to the game. Tremendous length and shot-blocking ability which comes naturally. He's a long term (player) who may need a red-shirt year to put the pieces together. Super natural ability, especially on defense. Offense is all new to him and he shows flashes. Laced with raw materials." Scout.com thinks Whiteside could develop into a top center and estimates the player could have a wing-span of 7-feet, 7-inches. Whiteside is working on becoming academically eligible at present time.

Other players on the Herd's radar include Jason Calliste, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound shooting guard from Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem, N.C., a three-star recruit. In the town the Herd calls home, Xavier Humphrey, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound shooting guard from Huntington High is also drawing a look. Greg Gantt, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Gainesville (Fla.) H.S., has given a verbal to Florida Atlantic but is still being looked at by Herd coaches.

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