By Caesar Cliffius
The Marshall University men’s basketball team has the community buzzing once again. Off to a 9-1 start, the Herd is the seventh highest-scoring team in Division I, averaging 85.2 points a game.
They are riding a seven-game win streak after losing their only game to the Old Dominion Monarchs 70-62.
The early success of the team isn’t the only thing that has basketball fans talking. The play of freshman forward Hassan Whiteside is also causing a stir.
The 7′0″ freshman is the nation’s leader in blocked shots per game with 5.3. He ranks 20th in field-goal percentage at 61 percent and is ranked second nationally in triple-doubles with one.
He scored his triple-double in a 105-54 thrashing of Brescia.
Whiteside is a graduate of Patterson High School in Lenoir, N.C., where they were rated No. 1 nationally in the 2008-2009 season. In 2009 he was the 19th-ranked big man in the country. He chose the Herd over UConn, Louisville, Mississippi State, South Carolina, South Florida, Xavier, VCU, and West Virginia.
Head coach Donnie Jones has the Herd playing a fast-paced game that makes it fun to watch. After two seasons of rebuilding, he has evened his record at Marshall to 31-31.
With most of the Memphis Tiger team graduated or moved on to the NBA, Marshall could certainly be the team to beat.
The Herd goes to Chapel Hill tonight to play the 10th-ranked Tar Heels of North Carolina. After beating High Point the other night 109-76, former Tar Heel standout and current High Point coach Scott Cherry was impressed with the young Marshall team. “They’re going to give the Tar Heels a test,” Cherry said. “The Tar Heels are good, but so is Marshall.”
Whiteside’s statistics for the young season are:
The High Point game marked the first time that Whiteside was a starter in college basketball, making his statistics all that more impressive.
His future looks bright and secure. Some are saying he is the best big man they have had since Charlie Slack in the 1950s. For anyone not familiar with Slack, he is still the owner of the NCAA career rebounding record, averaging over 25 rebounds per game.
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