Marshall’s Watson accepting his role
HUNTINGTON — Whether he’s used as a starting player or in a sixth man role coming from off the bench, Rondale Watson doesn’t care.
He’s just trying to help the Marshall Thundering Herd men’s basketball team.
Watson has started only two games in 14 appearances since becoming eligible in mid-December as a transfer from Wake Forest University of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” he said about not starting.
Freshman Jarrod West, a 5-foot-11 guard from Clarksburg, West Virginia, has started every game for Marshall (17-8, 8-4 Conference USA) and averages 33.3 minutes on the court during a 40-minute game. West uses a lot of energy on defense and needs a break now and then. That’s often when head coach Dan D’Antoni turns to Watson, a 6-4 junior from Lewisburg, West Virginia.
Watson is playing 28.9 minutes per game, provides the same defensive intensity as West and averages 10.3 points while the freshman scores nine a game.
“Jarrod is a great player,” Watson said. “He’s great defensively and we just help each other out
when one needs a break or needs time off.”
Every player wants to be a starter, but Watson said there are advantages to being a sixth man. He watches how West is defending an opposing player, seeing what the player likes and doesn’t like and what his weaknesses are.
D’Antoni said the defensive pressure applied by West and Watson wore out Florida Atlantic University point guard Payton Hulsey during Saturday’s game and the Owls brought in Anthony Adger.
“That’s Jarrod and Rondale, whichever one, just getting in there and making it difficult, making life miserable. That’s what defense is, you just make offense miserable.”
The Herd defeated the Owls, 79-68, in its third consecutive game of holding the opposition to less than 70 points.
Marshall is fourth in the Conference USA standings with six games left in the regular season. The stretch run begins with a two-stop swing through Texas for games with 12th-place Rice (5-20, 2-10) at 8 p.m. Thursday and fifth-place North Texas (14-11, 7-5) at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Watson was praised for his scoring (18) and rebounding (nine) in the FAU game, but also for his defense.
The ability to play good team defense is built on working together, Watson said. He said there was one time this season when he let the player he was guarding get inside where 6-10 Herd forward Ajdin Penava picked him up. Watson then went to cover Penava’s man and boxed him out to get a rebound.
“Once you learn the right spots you’re supposed to be in and everyone is working together and helping one another, it makes it (defense) a lot more fun,” Watson said.
“It makes the game a lot easier too.”
MARSHALL (17-8, 8-4) at RICE (2-10, 5-20)
WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Tudor Fieldhouse (5,208)
Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM