Marshall has plan for Jays College basketball: Western Maryland's Will Marshall, a Baltimore County native, always seems to have his best games against the Green Terror's most bitter rival, Johns Hopkins.

January 30, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

Over the last three years, Will Marshall has had some strong games against Centennial Conference rival Johns Hopkins, particularly on his home floor at Western Maryland. The Green Terror has won all three games at the Gill Center, and four of six overall.

In that stretch of home games, the 6-foot-6 senior forward has averaged 19 points and eight rebounds and has totaled 10 assists and blocked 10 shots.

Now it's that time again and, for a change, the game will mean something in the Centennial Conference.

First place in the Western Division will be at stake when Western Maryland (9-7, 5-2), with a four-game winning streak for the first time since winning its last five games in 1991-92, meets Hopkins (13-4, 5-1) in the home half of their annual home-and-home series at 7: 30 p.m. tomorrow. The second game will be Feb. 18.

"They always have good teams, so you know it will be a struggle. It's really a good rivalry," Marshall said.

It's understandable that it is more than just another game for Marshall. He grew up in the Edgemere section of Baltimore County, was an All-County selection at Sparrows Point High School, and his family now lives in Catonsville.

Western Maryland beat Hopkins three straight times during Marshall's freshman and sophomore seasons, and all are still in his memory bank.

In the first one, in Westminster, Marshall had 20 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks (all game highs). At Hopkins, his short jumper in the lane with 13 seconds left gave the visitors a 58-57 triumph. The next season, at home, he had 21 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and four blocks in 41 minutes of an overtime game.

Marshall, the conference player of the week for his efforts in two games last week, comes in to the game as the conference's leading scorer (20.4) and sixth in rebounding (6.3).

A four-year starter, Marshall has been playing inside more this season.

"I'm more aggressive than I used to be, and I've worked hard to adjust to playing with my back to the basket," he said. "I'm more comfortable than I was, but I would still rather take it [the ball] outside. My strength still is shooting the outside jumper -- 15-18 feet -- or slashing to the basket."

He could have gone on to point out he has made 32 three-point shots (in 110 attempts) in his career, seven of them this season.

Johns Hopkins coach Bill Nelson concurs with Marshall's preference for the perimeter.

"He's one of the outstanding offensive players we've played in my 12 years at Hopkins," Nelson declared. "He gets up for big games, and he always gets up for Hopkins.

"You have to play him as a perimeter player, because he has great range, but if he decides to go to the hoop he's tough to defend. You have to have two players aware of where he is on the floor -- one to challenge outside, and one to help out if he decides to go inside."

Two weeks ago, Marshall scored 18 in a loss at Dickinson, then came back with eight in a win over Franklin & Marshall, ending a string of 20 straight double-figure scoring efforts.

Four nights later, he scored 28 and equaled a career high with 15 rebounds in a win at Gettysburg. That game and a 20-point, five-rebound night against Swarthmore earned his most recent player of the week award -- an honor he has received in each of his four years.

It wasn't something he might have expected at the outset.

"I had an adjustment period," Marshall said of his early freshman days. "Pat Young was a senior guard, and he helped me, made me feel welcome."

Coach Nick Zoulias said pretty much the same thing.

"Will came to us as a talented high school player, but he recognized early he had to do some things to get better," said Zoulias. "He dedicated himself to self-improvement, in and out of season, used the weight room, and built himself into a strong, durable player. He has reached a level of success through personal drive and determination."

Pub Date: 1/29/98

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