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November 9, 2013

Marshall solid in debut despite not being at full strength

Senior guard Jermaine Marshall said after Friday's 96-61 season opening win over Maryland-Baltimore County he didn't feel like he had his legs under him yet after his run-in with Valley Fever, a sickness he didn't even know existed.

You couldn't tell if you watched him in his debut as a Sun Devil though.

Even after losing 15 pounds due to the illness, Marshall played 27 minutes and excelled in nearly all facets of the game. He totaled 19 points on 45 percent shooting and hit three 3-pointers. Additionally, Marshall was 6 of 6 from the free throw line, had two rebounds, two assists, and sparked ASU defensively with four steals.

"A little jitters," Marshall said. "Just coming off of Valley Fever and trying to get my legs back underneath me. It was great, I was finally able to get back out on the floor again. Able to play with (sophomore guard) Jahii (Carson) really for the first time in a game and everybody else. I felt good, we just have to keep moving forward and keep getting better."

Last year at Penn State, Marshall averaged 15.3 points per game, sixth in the Big Ten, and shot 75.9 percent from the free throw line to go along with 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Marshall entered season with 880 career points and 108 three pointers. He posted nine 20-point games while at Penn State, and his top three scoring games were against ranked teams.

Marshall's post-graduate transfer to ASU was enabled by the departure of last year's starting shooting guard Evan Gordon to Indiana. It looked for at least a night like ASU got a clear upgrade.

Having another viable and productive option in the back court alongside Carson is something that ASU coach Herb Sendek said could be valuable for the team moving forward this year.

"To bring in a proven player from a major conference says a lot about our current players and staff," Sendek said of Marshall before the season. "Jermaine understood what was the best fit for him in his one year. He is athletic, a proven scorer, knocks down his free throws and gets to the basket. He is a great fit for our team and program."

Many times Friday Marshall would sink a three or steal a ball after the Retrievers would break a Sun Devil run and blunt whatever momentum the visitor appeared to be generating.

"I thought Jermaine really played well tonight," Sendek said. "In the first half I thought his activity on a couple of possessions really was a catalyst for us. He shot the ball well and made his free throws. [It was] a good, solid performance for Jermaine."

Moving forward, not only will Marshall have to continue to learn the team's schemes and build additional chemistry with Carson and others, he will also have to continue getting back to 100 percent health as he hasn't quite gotten completely past his illness.

Even though at some points during the game Marshall looked to be the healthiest and most in-shape player on the floor, Marshall said there is still a lot of work to be done.

"I'm not quite where I want to be," Marshall said. "My wind is not where I want it to be. I was getting a little gassed out there on the floor, especially early. I don't think I have my legs quite under me yet, but I'm getting there. I'm working at it every day and doing everything the doctors are telling me to do. I think that's been helping, I'll keep trying to get better and I hopefully I'll be 100 percent soon."


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