HUNTINGTON — As Marshall practice began Wednesday, junior point guard Jarrod West called everyone together.
“Hey boys, let’s have a good day at the office,” West screamed. “Herd on three.”
For West, it is back to a role with which he’s most comfortable — a vocal leader who also sets the tone with his energy and preparation. West said that getting back to that prominent defined role is a blessing after trying to find his place the last two years with former guard Jon Elmore having been the established leader.
“I feel like I’m back in my natural habitat,” West said. “I’d be lying to you if I said that these last two years weren’t a tough adjustment, coming from being a leader to trying to fit in where I can get in. It was definitely a tough transition, for sure, but I think I’m getting back to what I’m used to doing. I feel like I’m still learning every day, but I’m getting better each time out.”
For West, the role of leader is one that comes naturally. His father (of the same name) was a point guard at West Virginia and West’s head coach at Notre Dame in Clarksburg, and he instilled those types of qualities in his son at a young age.
As a high school freshman, West was called on to lead the Irish and did so for four years, helping the team to a state title before venturing to Huntington to join the Thundering Herd.
Some of the qualities that his father instilled in him were work ethic, practice habits and giving extra effort. Those can be seen each day in practice, as outlined by his teammates.
“There’s nobody in practice that’s ever going to go harder than Jarrod,” Marshall junior forward Jannson Williams said. “That’s just how it is, and we look at him for that.”
Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said that West’s improvement and comfort level have been visible since workouts started once school opened.
“He comes on the floor and he leads — not only with talk, but by example,” D’Antoni said. “In [Tuesday’s] film session, we just watched him run up and down the floor twice and I stopped it and said, ‘If I can get everybody going like that right there, we’re going to win a ton of games.’ ”
West said that there are two reasons why he goes at that level each day. First, that’s how his father taught him — practice how you play — and, second, D’Antoni’s pace-based scheme demands it. West, therefore, tries to make practices harder than game situations, so his team is prepared each time it takes the floor against an opponent.
“You have to bring it every day,” West said. “And Coach Dan does a great job of bringing his energy every day. If he can do it, then we obviously should be able to. I think as a leader, it’s my responsibility, from a vocal standpoint, energy standpoint, effort standpoint, to bring it 100 percent every single play, no matter what it is I’m doing.”
West said that, with several newcomers to the 2019-20 team, getting them acclimated to life in the fast lane is the most crucial aspect of the preseason.
“It’s a learning curve for all the new guys,” West said. “They see it on film and Coach Dan points it out. There’s two totally different levels of 100 percent at high school speed and college speed, then our pace. It’s like when we get a rebound, we’re gone. There’s a different level of sprint for guys who have been on this team before against those first here trying to get back.
“That is the most important thing to learn to fit into Dan’s scheme. If you can’t fit into that scheme from an effort and pace standpoint, it’s very hard to adjust to everything else.”
One of the better equations given about Marshall men’s basketball was that of a performance car. Any car can look great on the outside, but the engine sets it apart from others. To perform at maximum speed for a sustained period of time, all the pieces within the engine have to be running in optimal condition. As that engine continues to run, West will be the fuel that keeps it running smoothly.
So why West? Because no one puts regular unleaded in a performance car.
It’s all high-octane.