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Herd's big man grows game

MU hoops
Oct. 31, 2012 @ 12:09 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Yous Mbao is still growing.

No., the 7-foot-2 junior center for the Marshall University men's basketball team isn't getting taller. The 22-year-old native of Senegal in West Africa says he hasn't gotten any taller in five years.

The growth is in his game.

"It's still coming along," he said before Tuesday practice in Cam Henderson Center. "It's getting closer each day."

Mbao's height -- he's the tallest player listed on a Conference USA roster -- his wingspan and his athletic ability are natural assets for a college big man.

But, as head coach Tom Herrion said at Marshall Media Day, he hasn't really played a lot of organized basketball. Mbao thinks he's getting there one dunk and one blocked shot at a time.

After playing soccer as a youngster, Mbao took up basketball after moving to Spain in 2005 and played three high school seasons there. He also played one season at Stoneridge Prep in Simi Valley, Calif. Mbao signed with Marquette University, and his 2009-10 freshman season was limited to playing a total of 60 minutes in 10 early-season games because of a knee injury.

He sat out the 2010-11 season at Marshall as a transfer.

Last season for the Thundering Herd he appeared in 33 of 35 games, but only for an average of 6.3 minutes per outing while averaging 0.3 points and 1.9 rebounds. He was second on the team with 25 blocked shots.

"Hopefully, we'll get more out of him," Herrion said at the beginning of preseason practice.

Mbao is yearning for more playing time, but doesn't let his frustration show.

Until his time comes, Mbao keeps a good attitude and continues showing his potential in Herd practices. Herrion singled him out as one of the players who have taken a leadership role this season.

He had some minor moments last season such as blocking four shots in a game at Belmont, grabbing nine rebounds against Northwestern State and a game at East Carolina where he had four points, five rebounds and two blocks.

Waiting for your big moment makes you want it even more, Mbao said.

He's ready with a plan for when his time in the spotlight comes.

"I'll just keep on working to where it keeps happening," he said.

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