Herd Women to Open Season with Friday's Fifth Third MU Classic
Marshall Will Face Morgan State at 5:30 p.m.

Herd Women to Open Season with Friday's Fifth Third MU Classic
Marshall Will Face Morgan State at 5:30 p.m.


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    The 2003-04 Marshall Thundering Herd Women's Basketball Team.
    (Photo by Dave McCormick)

    HUNTINGTON, W.Va. ? Marshall women?s basketball will tip-off its 2003-04 season on Friday with the second annual Fifth Third MU Classic at the Cam Henderson Center. The Thundering Herd will take on the Lady Bears of Morgan State at 5:30 p.m. to be preceded by the tournament-opening clash between High Point and Murray State at 3 p.m.

    Marshall head coach Royce Chadwick leads the Herd women, picked to finish third in the Mid-American Conference?s East Division this year, in his third season at the helm of the Green & White. Chadwick returns six letterwinners and two starters from a school record-setting team that won the program?s first ever MAC Tournament game last March at Northern Illinois while posting the most MAC wins in one season with seven in 2002-03.

    ?We?re very excited to open the season at home with our own tournament,? Chadwick said. ?There?s a lot of electricity in the air.?

    This year?s tournament brings in an entirely new field of teams for the second installment of the Fifth Third MU Classic, which Marshall won last November, upending American and Georgia Southern while nabbing tournament MVP honors for former Herd guard Ida Dotson. MU has never faced two of the three schools, Morgan State and High Point, but dropped a 79-77 decision to Murray State in 1987.

    Marshall, 2-0 in the preseason, will face a Morgan State team that struggled to a 1-27 record in head coach Angelyne Brown?s first season with the Lady Bears. Playing out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Morgan State returns six lettermen and one starter for the new season. Forward/guard Erinn Coleman and all-MEAC rookie selection Jennyffer Vargas return to commence a season in which the Lady Bears play their first seven contests on the road, with a trip to Alaska squeezed in before their first league contest on Dec. 10 at Coppin State.

    Chadwick and his primarily young squad, which has two preseason all-MAC selections on the roster in senior Catie Knable (Floyd Knobs, Ind.) and sophomore Sikeetha Shepard-Hall (Houston, Texas), is thrilled with the opportunity to open the season at the Henderson Center in a tournament setting.

    ?It?s tremendous to open at home, especially with the youngsters that we have on the team,? Chadwick said. ?It?s great to be here as opposed to unfamiliar surroundings. They (Marshall?s first-year players) will gain experience this weekend and the best way to do that is in front of friends and family.?

    Marshall has nine players (five true freshman and four transfers/redshirts) who have yet to play a game for Chadwick, who expects the inexperience to provide a bumpy ride in the initial stages of the season.

    ?With so many new players, they?re going to be running on pure adrenaline early on,? he said.

    Marshall will face either High Point or Murray State at approximately 3 p.m. on Saturday, following the Morgan State versus High Point/Murray State game at 1 p.m. High Point (18-12 in 2002-03) brings back only one starter, junior Kate Jenner, who led the Panthers to an 8-6 record in the Big South last season. Head coach Tooey Loy will begin his third season with HPU.

    Murray State went 8-20 playing out of the Ohio Valley Conference last year, with new head coach Joi Williams embarking on her first season in Division I. Williams? squad has restored the services of sophomore Lori Trumblee, the Lady Racers? leading scorer in 2002-03 with 9.6 points per game.

    Chadwick credits the success of the Fifth Third MU Classic to its sponsorship team, namely Fifth Third Bank, Ramada Limited, MU Locker Room Club and A&J Trophies.

    ?It?s a Huntington community event,? he said. ?Without their support, this event doesn?t happen. We appreciate the sponsor?s help from the bottom of our hearts.?

    All four of the Fifth Third MU Classic women's basketball games can be heard live on Marshall student radio at 88.1 WMUL-FM. Out of town fans can use the link above for live internet streaming or can log on to www.marshall.edu/wmul.

    Herd play-by-play man Robert Harper will be hosting a preseason special on WMUL-FM, "One More First: 2003-04 Marshall Women's Basketball Preview," beginning at 2:15 p.m. on Friday.