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BLOX Marshall Herd basketball.jpg

HUNTINGTON — Andrew Taylor will never forget what he heard last season at Louisiana Tech as Marshall opened the Conference USA portion of its season.

“I heard the crowd say something about us looking like little kids,” Taylor recalled. “You definitely won’t see much of that this year. We’ve got a lot of dudes that have been busting their tails in the weight room.”

The majority of that has come for the frontcourt players with guys like Mikel Beyers, Goran Miladinovic, Obinna Anochili-Killen and Darius George adding some needed weight to be able to withstand the rigors of playing inside.

In looking at some of the Herd’s losses last season, many came as the Herd got pushed around down low, including one loss at Old Dominion that stood out to the Marshall players.

In the end, that loss ended up costing Marshall a bye in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament.

Beyers, who put on 12 pounds in the offseason, said the focus was for all the players to put themselves in position to not get bullied around in league play.

“The whole summer I was here working out with Matt (Donelson, strength coach) in the weight room and just trying to stay on top of it because it’s going to be a big year for us,” Beyers said.

Beyers’ impact is magnified with the transfer of forward Jannson Williams at the ‘4’ position, which means there will be added minutes and expectations on both ends of the floor for the 6-10 senior from Arizona.

“Once I found out that Jannson was leaving, I knew that I was going to have to step up a lot this year and I knew I was going to have to be stronger to do that.”

The offseason was a welcome bright spot for the players after last year when there was no offseason due to COVID-19.

Taylor added that the weightroom gains have led to an increase in confidence for many players, citing Miladinovic in the first few days of practice as an example.

“In the first few practices, you can tell his confidence is up,” Taylor said. “He’s talking more and he’s being more aggressive, getting to his shot. I think that’s something we can build on.”

With the offseason weight work completed, the transition has come to take those gains and translate them to basketball, which started with last week’s start of preseason practice.

Taylor and fellow guard Taevion Kinsey also saw gains, along with Darius George, making for an explosive group on the court as head coach Dan D’Antoni gets the team ready for its exhibition opener on Oct. 31 against Davis & Elkins.

Marshall’s regular season opens on Nov. 12 at home against Wright State.

Grant Traylor is the sports editor of The Herald-Dispatch, who also covers Marshall athletics for HD Media. Follow him on Twitter @GrantTraylor.

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