Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Morehead State's head coach returns from suspension

MSU Head Coach Sean Woods
Passion is an element in life that can cause one to lose control of one’s emotions and react in an unacceptable manner. For first-year Morehead State men’s head basketball coach Sean Woods, his passion for the game of basketball overtook his emotions and allowed him to react to a situation in a manner that Morehead State Athletic Director Brian Hutchinson claimed was “unacceptable.”

Woods is a legend in the state of Kentucky. He was a member of the 1992 East Regional final team and scored 21 points against Duke in one of the most memorable games in the history of NCAA basketball. He was named SWAC Coach of the Year last season and earned the prestigious Ben Jobe Award, which honors the top minority coach in NCAA Division I men’s college basketball. He led Mississippi Valley State into the NCAA tournament last season after finishing with a record of 21-13 overall, 17-1 in the SWAC. While Woods’ resume speaks for itself, his action last Wednesday night in Lexington, Ky., were deemed out of line.

During the game against his alma-mater, Woods shoved one of his players who had fouled out of the game and was slow to leave the court. After the altercation, Morehead State suspended Woods for one game for his action during the contest.

“My behavior during Wednesday night’s game was inappropriate and unacceptable,” Woods said. “I value the opportunity I have been given as the head men’s basketball coach at Morehead State. I am passionate about the young man on our team and the opportunity we have together. I care for them deeply. I can assure our student-athletes, university community, alumni and fans that anything approaching this type of situation will not happen again.”

The rest, according to Woods, is history and he and the university are ready to move on from the mistake; although, do not expect Woods’ passion to fade away.

Woods style of coaching is labeled as out of control by some and complete passion by others. Woods prefers the later of the two and is quick to explain why he brings passion to the court every day.

“Basketball is a game of expression,” Woods said. “Play with emotion and a reason. If you don’t have any type of expression, you don’t need to be on the court.”

Forced from the sidelines Monday night, Woods had to watch his team endure a battle with Norfork State without him at the controls of the ship. Morehead State overcame 16 lead changes and seven ties in the contest to eventually secure a 73-67 victory. Woods praised his staff and players for sticking together and finding a way to get the win.

“We found a way,” Woods said. “Playing under distress and with emotion brings us as a program closer and makes us more relentless. It shows me that everyone is looking at the big picture.”

People make mistakes every day, some more serious than others, but for Woods, his mistake was one that he has acknowledged and is ready to move on. How a person reacts after admitting a mistake is often how one is remembered. Woods would not comment about the episode during the Kentucky game, but provided his thoughts about his future with Morehead State basketball. “I have to be Sean Woods and do what is best for my team,” Woods said. His new beginning starts tonight inside the Cam-Henderson Center as his Eagles travel to Huntington to battle the Herd for the first time since 2007. While Woods admits he must stay under control, he admits you can never be too passionate about something you love.

“I bring passion to my team,” Woods said. “It’s contagious and that’s how my team plays. When I see my players reflecting my passion, it’s gratifying.”

Monday, November 12, 2012


HUNTINGTON, W.Va—Marshall women’s volleyball played itself into a corner after losing seven straight games and not winning a match in nearly a month. This weekend inside the Cam Henderson Center, Marshall not only got out of the losing corner, but it played itself into the Conference USA tournament. Marshall was 16-12 on the season and 6-8 in conference play before the matchup Friday night against Tulane, needing wins against both Tulane and Sunday opponent UTEP. Marshall wasted little time righting the ship.
In its first home game in three weeks, Marshall swept Tulane in three straight sets, (25-17, 25-21, 25-17), never letting the Green Wave to establish itself in the matchup. Marshall’s fast-paced offense kept Tulane off-balance the entire matchup, providing the Herd opportunities to score early and often.
Marshall’s 13 service aces combined with 37 kills and a .216 hitting percentage proved too much for Tulane to handle.
Marshall head coach Mitch Jacobs said it was Marshall’s service that kept Tulane out of system. “I felt like we put a lot of pressure on Tulane in the service game,” Jacobs said. “We were able to come out and play defense consistently. Better than that, we were on both sides of the ball. We played decent on offense and defense. When mistakes were made, we didn’t harp on them and moved on. We executed in key times.”
Junior Laura Der with the attack.
Marshall was led by outside hitter Laura Der with 15 kills, three service aces and nine digs, while finishing with a .244 hitting percentage. Sophomore Katie Potts collected four kills on a .300 hitting percentage, while dropping in three service aces. Freshman Lauren Legge lead the team in services aces, collecting a career high four.
Der praised the play of both underclassmen. “Potts is a great role player,” Der said. “She may not score a lot of points, but she isn’t going to go out and make a bunch of errors. She added so much in today’s match. Lauren has played four different positions this season as a freshman and is always willing to just step in and do what she can to help the team.”
Tulane offensive attack was smothered by the Herd defense, not collecting a single player with double digit kills while having a .083 hitting percentage.
Before Sunday’s matchup with UTEP, Marshall was in a four way tie in the conference at 7-8, tied with Houston, Memphis, and SMU. Although Marshall had many different ways to play its way in, the goal was simple, just win. A Marshall win and the worst possible outcome could be a number 8 seed in the tournament next week in Tulsa.
Before the contest began, seniors Katy Schad and Andrea Snipes-Booker were honored during “Senior Day” inside the Henderson Center. While it was a special day for the seniors, it would prove to be special day for the entire team.
Junior Dorothy Rahal digs a ball.
Marshall combined a fierce offensive attack with stellar defensive play, seemingly having the UTEP players guessing at where the next ball would be. UTEP was led by junior Jeane Horton with 14 kills, but Marshall’s defense kept the junior off-balance most of the contest, sweeping the Miners in three sets.
Junior Laura Der found a rhythm early in the first set and her team was quick to follow her lead. “I try to lead by example of my play on the court,” Der said. “I may not be the most vocal person on the court, but I try to let my hustle and speak for itself.”
Der produced the most kills by a league player in three sets, earning 22 in the three set sweep. Her performance in the matchup made her the second ranked player in C-USA in kills and points. Horton finished third.
The Herd finished the match with an average side-out percentage of 76.3, including 82 percent in the final stanza. UTEP never broke 60 percent in the contest.
Marshall head coach Mitch Jacobs was pleased with his team’s effort and its ability to play its way into the tournament.  “Our service game came back pretty strong,” Jacobs added. “UTEP just didn’t look like the team we have seen on tape. You can credit our kids for playing really hard with their backs against the wall, knowing it could be win or be out of the tournament today. We played as if it was tournament time.”
The Herd had three players finish with over a .400 hitting percentage in the match providing an answer to every UTEP attack. Der, Byous-McConnell and Potts lead the Marshall attack that totaled 49 total kills and scored its highest hitting percentage of the season.
Although the offense was firing on all cylinders, Marshall’s defense held the UTEP counter-attack in check, allowing Marshall to control the tempo of the game.
Senior Katy Schad on the attack.
While noted for her offensive productions in most of this season’s contest, senior Katy Schad provided 20 digs while posting 10 kills, recording the games only double-double in her final game inside the Henderson Center.
“They didn’t ace us tonight,” Jacobs added. “If you look back at our stats from weeks past when we were really on a roll, we would have five, six, seven or more aces against our opponent. Tonight was more like that serve and pass game. We didn’t get aced and they have a few really good servers.”
After losses by Houston, Memphis and SMU, Marshall vaulted into the No. 6 seed and will face UCF Friday night at 8 p.m. ET in the Donald W. Reynolds Center located in Tulsa, Okla. The winner will move on to face the winner of Rice/Houston Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.
“Our goal was to make the conference tournament,” Jacob commented. “And we did that. Now we would like to do something in that tournament positive. It’s a long way to go to Tulsa, so let’s go there and enjoy the tournament and get after it.” 
Marshall split with UCF this season, defeating the Knights 3-2 at home and losing 3-1 in Orlando.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Huntington, W.Va—Marshall women’s basketball concluded its exhibition season Sunday with a 67-50 win over Kentucky State. Marshall defeated both its opponents in exhibition but the win this weekend was more of what is expected from the program.
“That was a little bit better,” Head Coach Matt Daniel said. “Today’s performance was a little more of what we expect.” Marshall scored the first nine points of the contest, but did not record its first field goal until 5:42 into the first half when sophomore Shay Weaver buried a three-point basket giving Marshall an eight point lead.
Marshall’s offensive attack put Kentucky State into early foul trouble, picking up its seventh team foul before the half-way point of the first half. After senior JoAnna Powell and freshman Taylor Sanders were forced to the bench early with two fouls each, Kentucky State Head Coach Serena King-Coleman turned to her bench for a spark.
Trailing Marshall by 11 just before halfway in the first half, Coleman turned to senior guard Jasmine Davis for a lift, and she gave more than expected. Davis rolled off back-to-back three pointers to cut the lead to three and finished the half as the game’s leading scorer with 10 points.
Marshall’s defensive pressure created 11 Kentucky State turnovers in the first half but managed only 31 points while shooting 32.3 percent from the field going to the locker room with a nine point lead.
Daniel made adjustments at half forcing his team to refocus on the game plan for the matchup. Junior guard Jasmine Shaw led the way for the Herd on both sides of the court. With 15:10 remaining in the game and Kentucky State trimming the lead to five, Shaw forced a turnover by Davis and converted the steal into a three-point basket.
Shaw contributed her preparation for her early season success. “It’s all about practice, working hard, and adjusting to the system,” Shaw said after the victory.
Shaw puts up a jumper in exhibition play.
Kentucky State would make one final push at the six minute mark trimming the lead to six, but Marshall’s defense created its offense, giving the Herd four fast-breaks resulting in lay-ups and its biggest lead of the game of 15 points. “We took a two possession game to a 10 possession game simply because of our focus,” Daniel added.
Daniel applauded the manner his team conclude the game in his “Full-Tilt” philosophy. “If players want to play one-on-one, they can do that tomorrow,” Daniel added. “Teams will play one on five against Marshall.”
Weaver put the final exclamation point on the win after draining a three-point bucket, running the lead to 20 and giving Marshall its largest lead of the game.
“When you are prepared, things go so much smoother,” Daniel said. “Game day is a celebration of preparation.”
Marshall had 10 players score in the contest as Shaw led the way with a game-high 18 points, nine which came from behind the arc. Weaver added 11 shooting 3-5 from behind the arc. Marshall finished the game shooting 41.1 percent from the field, 38.9 percent from behind the arc and 77.8 percent from the foul line.
Marshall’s starts its regular season at home Friday against Radford with a noon tip-off.