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Nov. 23, 2010

Sometimes the simple way really is the best way.

Simplicity is what Georgia Tech Head Women’s Basketball Coach MaChelle Joseph calls the secret to the brilliant play of freshman guard Tyaunna Marshall.

“She doesn’t overcomplicate things. She keeps everything very simple,” said Joseph. “If the jump shot’s open she takes it. If she doesn’t have the jump shot then she’ll drive by you. She just takes what the defense gives her and makes plays. She keeps it simple. “

Deja Foster helped me a lot. She’s my roommate as well, so she talks to me all the time,” Marshall said. “Also my other teammates told me, ‘Just play your game. Just be you.'”

Being herself has helped Marshall make the adjustment to college basketball look simple in her first five games. The 5-11 guard out of East Seton High School in Bladensburg, Maryland, has been named ACC Rookie or Co-Rookie of the Week in each of the season’s first two weeks, and leads Georgia Tech in scoring (14.8 ppg, 12th in the ACC), and offensive rebounds (18). She’s second in minutes (27.6), shooting (.484 — Chelsea Reagins leads the team but has taken only 16 shots) and total rebounds (32, 6.4 per game).

She also is second on the team with nine steals, is third with 13 assists and has a nearly 2:1 assists-to-turnover ratio. Point guards Metra Walthour (18:12) and Mo Bennett (8:7) are the only other players on the team to have a positive in that category.

“I’m not really surprised,” said Joseph of her prized freshman. “I told a lot of people heading into the season that Ty Marshall is the best player they never heard of. She was definitely under the radar on the recruiting scene.”

She shouldn’t be under the radar much longer. Not after Sunday against top-ranked Connecticut, when she went toe-to-toe with junior Tiffany Hayes, and actually RAISED her season shooting percentage. She shot 50 percent from the floor. The rest of the team shot .200 (9-for-45). Her 23 points against the Huskies made her the first Yellow Jacket to score 20 points in a game this season.

“Before the [Connecticut] game, I was nervous. I had butterflies in my stomach. It was kind of a good nervous, but I was still nervous all around,” said Marshall, who has hit for double-figures in four of her first five games. “As soon as I got on the court and started warming up I tried to clear my mind, saying, ‘We’re all the same. We all play basketball. It’s just another big game.'”

Simple as that.

It’s almost as simple as how Georgia Tech wound up signing the Upper Marlboro, Maryland, native, who comes from a basketball family (her brother and both parents played).

So how did Joseph manage to sneak Marshall out of her home state?

Simple. She asked.

All it took to convince Joseph was one look. Here’s where the luck factors in.

Joseph was at the Deep South Classic in Raleigh, N.C., to scout point guard Dawnn Maye, who also committed to Tech, when one of those magical recruiting moments happened. She spotted that second, unintended pearl.

“I was watching Dawnn play and she was playing against Ty’s team,” Joseph recalled. “I watched [Ty] steal the ball and score in transition and I said, ‘She really fits what we like to do.’ Her team was pressing and she was getting steals. So I immediately tried to find out who she was and what school she was looking at.”

“When I met Coach Jo, I was kind of nervous and excited at the same time,” Marshall recalled. “I always wanted to go to Georgia Tech but that kind of went away because I never heard from them.”

That would change. As it turned out the only other major school that had approached Marshall was James Madison. Could everyone else have been watching the same player Joseph was? Joseph certainly hoped not.

“She’s right in Maryland’s back yard and she’s right in the middle of a lot of ACC schools and Big East schools,” she said. “In this day and age, with all the technology that we have, with Twitter, with Facebook, all the scouting services I am very surprised. She also played on a high school team that was very successful, for a coach that was an All-American in college with Maryland. So I was very surprised that she was not as highly recruited as I thought she would be.”

Marshall has a chance to make believers and is taking advantage of the opportunity.

“I nominated her for the all-rookie team in the ACC and she didn’t get any votes,” said Joseph. “So I think she kind of has a little chip on her shoulder. She’s got something to prove. I can’t imagine another freshman at this point having a bigger impact on her team this early.

“She’s consistent,” she continued. “She’s played at Old Dominion and had a great game, and against the No. 1 team in the country, UConn, she had a great game. She’s not doing this in 30-point blowouts. She’s doing this against some of the best teams in the country.”

She’s got opponents’ attention now.

“We knew that we were going to have a very difficult time keeping her in front of us, and it certainly proved to be the case,” said UConn Head Coach Geno Auriemma following Sunday’s game. “I think she is representative of their entire team, they are really athletic and they play a really physical game.”

“One of the things that I love to see is when you’re a freshman, it’s almost like you don’t know what ‘s going on or kind of what to expect so you just play with this reckless abandon almost,” added Maya Moore. “Marshall, she just plays. She was fearless. That really impressed me.”

Beginning Thursday at the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam, Marshall will get a chance to impress No. 13 Georgetown, where she’ll battle their two-guard Sugar Rogers, then No. 4 Tennessee, where a match-up with Angie Bjorkland awaits.

“I hope that she is the epitome of what we are,” said Joseph. “We’re not going to back down from anybody. We’re taking on the best teams in the country. I think she looks at it as a great opportunity for her to go out and show what she’s capable of.

“Her challenge is to stay humble and stay focused and not allow any of this to disrupt what her goals are,” she added. “She’s the only freshman I’ve ever had that came in and when I asked what her individual goals are, she looked at me and said, ‘I want to be Freshman of the Year in the ACC.’ That’s a pretty bold statement and she’s backed it up thus far. That’s something that she’s focused on and so I look for big things out of her. I don’t think we’ve even seen the best of what she’s capable of yet.”

“Every game is a big challenge and this tournament in the Virgin Islands is going to be tough for me,” said Marshall. “I grew up watching Georgetown play and some of the players from Georgetown played against our high school. It’s going to be a great game. Tennessee was always one of my favorite teams and of course Coach Summitt. But I’ve got to take it as another game. Don’t let anything distract me. I’ve just have to keep playing the way I’ve played for the first two weeks.”


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