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Herd's Hanner excelling as backup

MU basketball
Jan. 16, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Someday Jamir Hanner might be a starting player for the Marshall University men's basketball team.

For now, though, the sophomore backup forward is making the most of every minute he gets to play.

In the last month (six games) his playing time has jumped to an average of 13.5 productive minutes per game. He set career highs with 12 points and seven rebounds Jan. 5 in a loss at Ohio. He logged a personal-best 18 minutes with six rebounds and four assists last week in a win over Tulsa. He had eight points and four rebounds Saturday in a loss at UTEP.

"Hopefully, it continues as the season goes along," he said.

Marshall (8-9 season, 1-1 Conference USA) is at midweek in its preparation for a 7 p.m., Saturday, conference home game against East Carolina (10-5, 1-1), which plays at home Wednesday against Houston (12-3, 1-1). The Thundering Herd has been idle since losing at UTEP.

The 6-foot-8, 210-pound Hanner practiced with the forwards Tuesday, but he often works with the guards because of his versatility.

Wherever he practices or plays in games, something usually happens.

"I love him because he plays hard," Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said. "He's getting better and better with his breakdowns. He's not the only one who makes mistakes.

"He's an energy guy, and I don't take that for granted."

Hanner is averaging 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 10.9 minutes a game for the season. He's shooting 57.4 percent from the field and 65.2 percent (15-for-23) at the foul line.He also has two 3-point field goals in five attempts, 10 assists, four blocked shots and eight steals.

The Philadelphia, Pa., native covets a position in the starting five, but said he tries to not let it bother him and just stays ready on the bench.

When he enters a game, it's time to make some hustle plays.

"It's what I'm supposed to do," Hanner said. "I try to bring energy, make a play and try to help my team."

Marshall's season has been frustrating with all the lost games because the team had high expectations, he said.

But, with 14 regular season games left before the C-USA tournament and a potential postseason appearance, there's still time to be successful.

"All we can do is finish these games out as best we can and finish the season strong," Hanner said.

Hanner said nobody on the Herd is quitting on the season because players are still chasing goals they set.

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