Jan. 11, 2011
By Jon Cooper
Most are taken with a grain of salt and for good reason.
For example, check out the voting for 2010-11 ACC Women’s Basketball Rookie of the Year watch list and look for Ty Marshall’s name. You’re not going to find it.
That didn’t bother Marshall at the time and it certainly doesn’t bother her now that she’s seemingly made ACC Rookie of the Week her personal property — she’s won it five times in the first nine awardings, twice winning it back-to-back weeks. Only one other player, Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas (she was on the watch list) has made as many as two appearances.
Through 18 games, Marshall is averaging 14.2 points per game, 10th in the ACC and her 50.0 shooting percentage (110-for-220) is 13th. Thomas is the only other freshman in the conference’s top 20 in scoring, ranking 19th at 12.6 ppg, while only Florida State’s Natasha Howard (also on the preseason watch list), has a better shooting percentage among freshmen than Marshall (53.9).
Marshall’s showing everybody what Head Coach MaChelle Joseph already knew.
“I think Ty Marshall is the best freshman that’s played here and that’s saying a lot considering Alex Montgomery is probably the best player that’s ever played here,” said Joseph following Tech’s Jan. 2 victory over Jacksonville State, four days prior to its ACC debut against North Carolina. “Now will Ty have the same kind of work ethic and focus to be where Alex is as a senior? That’s yet to be seen. But if you’re comparing freshman to freshman, Ty Marshall is probably the best freshman we’ve had here. She’s been the most consistent, she has the best stats, she’s scored the most points to date.”
Marshall has been the best freshman in the ACC through the first week of ACC play. She nearly single-handedly carried Tech to a remarkable, come-from-behind conference-opening victory over North Carolina, scoring 24 points on 8-for-20 shooting, adding 7-for-8 from the line, while grabbing seven rebounds dishing out three assists, making a steal and recording the team’s only blocked shot.
“I thought Ty put us on her back at the end and carried us,” said Joseph.
So much for freshman jitters.
Turns out, the same nerves that bring out the youthful mistakes in most 18-year-olds bring out the best in the Upper Marlboro, Md., native.
“I think freshman jitters are a good thing for me,” said Marshall, who has hit 20 points four times in the team’s first 18 games (they play game No. 19 Thursday night at Alexander Memorial Coliseum against Virginia) and has been held under double-figures five times but only once in the last nine games. “I’ve always been a nervous player. The beginning of our season I was so nervous, the UConn game so nervous. I think I’ve come out and produced some of my best games when I’m nervous.”
The numbers back that up.
Marshall had a coming out party on Opening Night against Georgia State, scoring a game-high 18 on 8-for-15 shooting.
On Nov. 21st against Connecticut, she had an eye-opening 23-point, 10-for-20-shooting game.
The ACC opener was another big game and another big Marshall performance. The level of play in the ACC didn’t surprise her.
“It was everything I expected,” she said following the Carolina game. “A hard game for 40 minutes straight. You have to bring everything for 40 minutes. You have to keep playing. That s what I was told, that’s what I expected it to be and that’s how it was.”
She spoke with the poise of the senior, Montgomery, who sat next to her on the postgame podium. Joseph feels that Marshall can not only benefit from Montgomery’s example on the court, but from the attention that she draws.
“Ty’s in a great situation because they put their best defensive player on Alex, and Ty gets to play off of her,” said Joseph. “It’s a compliment to Alex but shows a lot of fortitude and ability in Ty because Ty wants the basketball. For Ty to want to take 20 shots against Carolina, that’s hard work. It’s hard work to get the ball against Carolina that many times, let alone shoot.”
Tech carries an 11-game winning streak into the Virginia game and the team is growing in confidence every game. Marshall is as well.
The next step is to continue to grow her game, a step she was eager to take without needing to be told.
“More rebounding is one thing I’m trying to pick up,” said Marshall, who is fourth on the team with 4.9 rebounds per game. “I’m trying to improve, everything, a few more steals (she’s third on the team with 30), keep the scoring the way it is. I’m trying to improve day by day as much as I can.”
Joseph knows her expectations for her prized freshman — 12.5 points per game and 4.8 rebounds. Those were Montgomery’s freshman numbers in ACC play, which included nine double-digit scoring games.
“One of the things Alex did as a freshman, and this is Ty’s challenge now, is Alex was a double-figures scorer in the ACC as a freshman,” said Joseph. “Now Ty hasn’t proven she can do that yet, but at the end of the year, I honestly believe Ty will be one of the best, if not the best, freshman in the league and the best freshman to play here.”