With the opening of the season upon us, coach John Chaney is excited to see what his two talented newcomers, freshman guard Mark Tyndale and sophomore forward Wayne Marshall, can bring to the table. And about two minutes into the season opener against Auburn on Friday, Chaney will be screaming and cussing at both of them.
Players new to Chaney’s system can’t avoid the cacophony that emits from the coach’s mouth, even over the roar from the boisterous fans. That’s what comes with the territory when you play for Chaney.
Obviously, Chaney sees something in these two guys, because he tabbed them starters after just a couple weeks of practice. Both are still getting acclimated to the college game.
“The new kids come out of high school and we’re starting Tyndale and Marshall and they don’t know the nomenclature,” Chaney said. “You say curl and they don’t know what that means. They don’t know how to use a screen.”
Both are going to have to learn quickly, but for the most part Chaney and his veteran players are anticipating Marshall and Tyndale having a positive impact.
“They’re going to help us tremendously,” junior forward Antywane Robinson said. “Wayne gives us a real good inside presence. I’m not trying to take anything away from Keith [Butler]. But Wayne, he shoots out on the perimeter a little bit and he’s real aggressive on the inside.
“Mark gives us that all-out player, that kamikaze type player that Hawley Smith was, but he’s more talented,” he added. “He’s a good outside shooter and he goes to the basket and gets fouled a lot.”
Tyndale’s final game as a prep took place at the Liacouras Center, where he led his powerful Simon Gratz team to a Public League championship. He scored 27 points, including 23 in the second half, so Tyndale already has a feel for his new home.
He comes from a long line of great players from the basketball factory known as Gratz. Junior point guard Mardy Collins, another Gratz alum, was set up by Chaney to be Tyndale’s roommate.
“We go back to the room, talk about things he’s not doing and what things he needs to do. We watch film together,” Collins said. “Mark is one of the guys coach wants me to bring along, because he’s having a difficult time learning the offense and other things. That’s one of the guys I try to build chemistry with. With Antywane and Keith, we’ve been here together two, going on three years now. I have a chemistry with them already. But with another guard, you have to build chemistry because they’re up top. You’re both running around, and you don’t want to get in each other’s way.”
Like some recruits from the city, Marshall did not qualify academically under the NCAA’s rigid standards. He would have been a huge asset last year, and will be just as important in his first season now that he has earned his eligibility.
So far Chaney has nothing but praise for his unproven forward. Due to Marshall’s absence last season, he enters as a virtual unknown. In the preseason conference selections, Marshall was not even voted to the Atlantic Ten all-rookie team.
“He’s got good hands, good feet, good defense [and] his timing is very good,” Chaney said. “He’s just savvy. It didn’t come from anything but playing basketball all the time. He has a court outside of his house where he plays ball.”
In the past Chaney would be reluctant to put his fresh-faced kids on the court. In 1986, a phenom named Mark Macon caused a frenzy among the fans and the media. During that season his magnified presence forced Chaney to re-think his approach to handling freshman.
Chaney once tried to avoid putting his newcomers in starting roles, but in the recent past that has changed. Still, Chaney keeps a lid on his freshman from speaking to the media, a rule he implemented after the chaos of Macon’s first year. Macon is now an assistant coach with the Owls.
Three years ago he gave Collins, Butler and Robinson the starting nod as first-year players, so why would he hesitate to do it again?
Jason Haslam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.