Persona non gratae.
At one point, that’s what Marshall University junior forwards Jannson Williams and Mike Beyers practically were in the Thundering Herd’s 2019-20 season.
During a mid-season span of 10 consecutive games, the 6-foot-8 Williams didn’t appear in the starting lineup and didn’t even score in five contests.
In that same span, the 6-9 Beyers didn’t play in three games and was scoreless in two others.
The bottom seemingly had fallen out for the duo.
But inexplicably — or, at least, so it seemed — Williams and Beyers have abruptly blossomed in Marshall’s last six games.
Williams has started all six games, averaging 10.7 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 34.8 percent from the floor (16 of 46) and 41.7 percent from 3-point range (15 of 36) in 24.2 minutes of playing time.
Meanwhile, Beyers has come off the bench to average 12.2 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 43.9 percent (25 of 57) from the field and 40.0 percent on 3-pointers (14 of 35) during 22.8 minutes of playing time.
That’s a sudden infusion of 23 points and 11 boards into each of those six games.
Is it any wonder the Herd’s record is 4-2 during that span?
Williams and Beyers have done a 180-degree turnaround, going from non-contributors to key contributors. In fact, lately, the trend has been Marshall goes as Williams and Beyers go.
During Marshall’s last four wins, Williams has averaged 13.3 points and 7.3 rebounds, while hitting 13 treys. And Beyers? In those same four wins, he averaged 14.0 points and 4.8 rebounds while making 11 3-pointers.
But in the two losses, Williams averaged only 5.5 points and 3.0 rebounds, while Beyers contributed 8.5 points and 6.0 rebounds.
The numbers don’t lie.
Williams’ and Beyers’ collective performances have been the difference.
“That’s what I have been saying all along — our juniors have got to come through,” said veteran MU coach Danny D’Antoni. “We struggled there early in the season when they’re shooting percentage was so low. We weren’t getting production from them.
“And, then, that threw us into me trying to solve a problem. And there was no solution.”
Williams and Beyers had to start performing like they were capable of playing.
“Jannson started coming in here [the Cam Henderson Center] a little earlier before practice, taking shots,” said D’Antoni. “Mike was coming in earlier, taking shots. Then, all of a sudden their play started picking up.
“That really solidified everything. If we can keep that going ... when they’re good, when the production comes out of those juniors, we’re pretty good.”
That was the missing ingredient.
“You have to have that,” said D’Antoni. “What everybody has to understand is if they don’t come through, we’re down to true freshmen. In this league, playing true freshmen ... that’s difficult.
“Those juniors are extremely important as to our success at the end of the season and into the Conference USA Tournament. If they can give us good, consistent play and consistent shooting from the outside and consistent play, then we’re a much better team.”
The statistical trends posted by Williams and Beyers is incontrovertible proof.
“It was a long time waiting,” said Williams. “It’s all confidence. If me and Mike can knock down shots, it makes it a lot easier to play defense.”
Remember, Marshall goes as Williams and Beyers go.