HUNTINGTON — For those who think Marshall men’s basketball’s Tuesday exhibition against Glenville State is just a trial run, Marshall men’s basketball coach Dan D’Antoni had two words.
Those words? Think again.
D’Antoni said the exhibition was vital for both teams as the Thundering Herd locks up with the Pioneers at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Cam Henderson Center. Glenville State, which has a pair of former Marshall players on its roster in guard Noah Frampton and forward Phil Bledsoe, is coming in to win after nearly knocking off the Herd last season.
Meanwhile, every aspect of the contest will be analyzed by D’Antoni as a test for his players.
On Saturday, Marshall’s players scrimmaged and D’Antoni said he felt good about it watching it live. After watching film, however, he saw periods of lapses in effort that were evident from players. That led to Monday’s practice session, in which the team spent as much time watching the scrimmage as it did film of Glenville State in preparation for what they may see.
D’Antoni pulled no punches when speaking about how Saturday’s scrimmage played into the importance of Tuesday’s exhibition.
“There are ones who haven’t quite grasped the discipline that they have had in their efforts and alertness mentally,” D’Antoni said. “The first ones who grab a hold of that will probably secure a position because the talent is about equal.”
D’Antoni has used different combinations with his teams leading up to the exhibition, so the lineups will vary throughout the game as the staff gets a feel for what combinations are the best.
Again, D’Antoni didn’t necessarily say it was about production on Tuesday. Instead, it is about effort and bringing the elements to the table that the coaching staff requests, which is intensity and tempo on both ends.
“It’ll be first come, first serve,” D’Antoni said. “They’re not only trying to beat Glenville. They’re playing for playing time, too. We’re going to be changing lineups and rhythms and momentums and all that. We’ll see how we handle it. That’s why you have exhibitions — to learn, more than anything else.”
On the other side of the court will be a Glenville State team that gave the Herd fits during a 113-108 Marshall win in last season’s exhibition. Bledsoe returns to the Cam Henderson Center where he played for two years under D’Antoni. The 6-foot-6 forward from Wheeling was named an All-Mountain East Conference second-team selection in the 2018-19 campaign. Last season, Bledsoe had 14 points and 10 rebounds against Marshall.
Jarrod West, Bledsoe’s former teammate with the Herd, said he knows that Bledsoe and Frampton are going to come in looking to make a statement, so the team’s intensity and focus has to be right.
“There’s definitely a little more bragging rights, you know,” West said. “Phil is definitely going to try to bring his best game, so we’ve got to be ready for it. Again, it’s more West Virginia guys on the same floor, which is fun. I have a good relationship with Noah and I still talk to Phil every now and then, but it gives us another reason to play hard.”
West added that after four weeks of facing nothing but green, white and black in practice situations, he’s eager to add a little blue to the new-look Cam Henderson Center because it means a different opponent and the regular season is just around the corner.
“I’m ready to go, man,” West said. “It’s here now. After this game, it’s going. It’s not going to slow down any for us. I think this is a good opportunity for us to see where we’re at and go from there.”