Marshall’s George playing with more confidence as a sophomore
ON 3B: Bowling Green tops MU women
HUNTINGTON — Darius George made two clutch defensive plays Sunday that helped the Marshall Thundering Herd finish off Hofstra University.
Following the Herd’s 76-72 home victory in Cam Henderson Center, someone mentioned to Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni about George stepping up late in the game. D’Antoni responded by saying he wanted to get rid of the “stepping up” phrase because George just did what he normally does.
George rejected a Hofstra shot with 23 seconds remaining when Marshall was ahead by three points. Then he drew a charging foul with 10 seconds to go, creating a turnover and protecting a four-point lead.
“Darius was huge,” Marshall senior guard C.J. Burks said. “He was huge on the defensive end. He was huge on the offensive end.”
Marshall (2-0) entertains Mount St. Mary’s (0-2) for a 7 p.m. Wednesday home game. The Mount, a Northeast Conference opponent from Emmitsburg, Maryland, has road defeats at N.C. State (105-55) and Hofstra (79-61).
George, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound sophomore forward from Staunton, Virginia, contributed 7.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.5 blocked shots in Marshall’s first two games this season. He had six points, five rebounds, one assist, two blocks and one steal against the Hofstra Pride (1-1).
During the 2017-18 Conference USA championship and NCAA Tournament second-round season, George averaged 4.6 points and 3.1 rebounds.
“I’m just more confident playing with my teammates and shooting the ball,” said George, who has canned five of seven 3-point shots. “Last year it was learning. It’s (shooting) gotten way better and my confidence is way up too. Hitting those shots, it’s like, ‘Give me the ball so I can shoot more.’”
Marshall does a lot of shooting and ball-handling drills in its practices. George said he’s working on his handle to become more of a total package.
D’Antoni is wrestling with the challenge of getting everybody enough playing time to keep them happy.
Senior point guard Jon Elmore and Burks have played the most, with 36.5 and 31.5 minutes per game respectively. Sophomore guard Jarrod West is playing 24.5 minutes a game, 6-9 sophomore forward Jannson Williams for 23.5 and George for 22.0.
“I only played (senior guard Rondale Watson) 14 minutes against Hofstra,” D’Antoni said. “What is it, 200 minutes in a game? C.J. and Jon just ate up 70 of them. We’re down to 130 (left) and you’ve got eight players.”
D’Antoni said if players continue thinking about “we” and don’t get caught up in “me,” things will work out.
“It (playing time) just depends on what you bring to the team, like hustling and rebounding,” George said. “It can be anybody. It doesn’t matter who it is, just know you are doing your part and you’ll be fine.”
Burks popped in 30 points in the season-opening win at Eastern Kentucky (105-77) and scored 23 against Hofstra for his 26.5 average. Elmore is close behind at 25.0 per game after netting 20 at Eastern Kentucky and 30 on Sunday.
Freshman guard Taevion Kinsey, George and Williams are producing between six and eight points each.
George and Elmore both average 6.0 rebounds followed by Watson (5.5) and Williams (5.0).
Mount St. Mary’s played Friday at Hofstra and bolted to a 16-1 lead. After missing its first 12 shots, Hofstra rallied to lead 31-28 at halftime and pulled away in the second period.
The Mount roster features one graduate transfer, seven sophomores and nine freshman playing for new head coach Dan Elgelstad, who joined the Mountaineers after posting a 104-34 record in five seasons at Southern Vermont College.
“They have a lot of growing (to do); we just don’t want it to be here,” D’Antoni said.
Jalen Gibbs, a 6-3 sophomore guard, leads The Mount. The Drake University transfer averages 22.5 points and 7.0 rebounds. Six-foot freshman Vado Morse follows with 11.5 points a game. K.J. Scott, a 6-4 grad transfer from Texas Southern University, and 6-8 freshman Nana Opoku both score 7.0 a game.
The Mount was picked for a lOth-place finish in the 10-team Northeast Conference.
“Last year it was learning. It’s (shooting) gotten way better and my confidence is way up too. Hitting those shots, it’s like, ‘Give me the ball so I can shoot more.’ ” Darius George
MOUNT ST. MARY’S (0-2) at MARSHALL (2-0)
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Cam Henderson Center, Huntington
Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM, WMUL 88.1-FM