OK, exhibition season is over.
So, what have we discovered about Marshall’s Thundering Herd basketball program after wins over Glenville State and Rio Grande?
First and foremost, it has become clearly obvious that Mike Beyers is ready to play.
I mean, really ready.
Remember when the 6-foot-9 Beyers worked out for the first time in the Henderson Center? The junior college transfer put on such an eyebrow-raising performance that everybody expected Beyers to be a sure-fire starter during the 2018-19 season.
But that never happened.
Instead, Beyers averaged 9.8 minutes of playing time in 33 games. He averaged 3.0 points and 1.7 rebounds.
That’s a far, far cry from everyone’s expectations.
Well, guess what?
All that has changed.
The easy-going Beyers who just wouldn’t play hard enough in coach Danny D’Antoni’s frenetic-paced style of play last season has learned the error of his energy.
That’s why Beyers was in the starting lineup for Marshall’s 100-66 win over Glenville State on Tuesday and again for the Thundering Herd’s 92-59 victory over Rio Grande Saturday in the Cam Henderson Center.
Beyers is playing hard now.
Is he ever.
“Yeah, it took long enough,” said Beyers with a self-effacing grin. “I definitely had a learning curve. Playing in the CIT [Collegeinsiders.com Tournament] really, really helped me.”
Marshall’s four-game run to the CIT championship last March was where Beyers newly found aggressiveness began to surface.
“Then, when I went home to Houston last summer,” said the junior, “I lost 10-15 pounds. I am moving a lot better. I feel like that has helped.”
It shows. Beyers is playing the hardest, strongest and most aggressively since he arrived at Marshall.
Against Rio Grande, for example, Beyers threw down an emphatic one-handed tomahawk slam in the first half and then added a pair of two-handed slam dunks in the second half.
Besides the slams, he also swished a 3-pointer from 24 feet on the right wing.
Beyers finished with a game-high 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting, along with six rebounds and three steals during 23 minutes of playing time.
Now, add that performance to Beyers’ strong showing against Glenville State. The truth of the matter is he dominated with game-highs of 13 rebounds and seven assists along with eight points, two steals and one blocked shot.
So, in two exhibition games, Beyers has notched game-highs in points, rebounds and assists.
What else is there?
“He’s that capable,” said D’Antoni during his postgame press conference. “He’s a threat anywhere on the floor. He’s a good ballplayer. I think he is going to grow.
“He was only 6-6 coming out of high school. That’s why he went to junior college. But even in junior college he came off the bench.”
So, obviously, Beyers is growing into his role as a scorer, rebounder, playmaker, defender and, perhaps, most of all, as a starter.
He has so much potential that D’Antoni likens Beyers to former Marshall standout Ajdin Penava.
“Last summer,” said Beyers, “Danny urged me to watch videotape on Ajdin.”
That’s how much potential Beyers possesses.
“He has a lot of upside,” said D’Antoni, “because he can score from anywhere on the floor. He’s a force.”
Beyers always had the itch.
But, now, he’s actually scratching his potential.