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Sports

RMU coach Schmidt faces a familiar face

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Friday, Nov. 17, 2006

Marshall coach Ron Jirsa recalled the time his team played against Robert Morris coach Mark Schmidt's squad when both were assistants in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Schmidt was at Xavier. Jirsa was at Dayton.

Both will meet as head coaches at 7 tonight in a nonconference matchup at Marshall's Cam Henderson Center.

"I have the utmost respect for Mark Schmidt and his program," Jirsa said. "He is doing an outstanding job building that program.

"Hey, they were picked to finish second in their conference. I know Mark Schmidt can coach, because I watched what he was a part of at Xavier. It is no surprise to me that Robert Morris is one of the teams to beat in the conference."

Jirsa said when he was at Dayton, Xavier held the edge in victories.

Schmidt said Marshall,in Conference USA, is at a higher level than his Colonials in the Northeast.

"College basketball is like a fraternity among coaches," Schmidt said. "Some you know better than others, but we know each other because we coached against each other.

"He has the Marshall team playing well. ... And there probably some people who don't think we have a chance. But we believe we can compete. We plan to go out like we did against Florida International and see what happens."

The Colonials likely will have to play better defense against Marshall than it did in a season-opening, 96-72 victory over Florida International.

Schmidt had his players working on defense this week because he knows Marshall is athletic and talented.

"This will be a challenge, especially because it is our first road game," Schmidt said. "But we have experienced guys who have played on the road before. They won't be intimidated.

"We just have to be able to handle their pressure and keep the game close. The longer you can keep it close, the better chance you have of pulling out a win against a team that is supposed to beat you."

Jirsa said he wouldn't take Robert Morris lightly. The Colonials handily defeated Florida International of the Sun Belt Conference on Monday. Marshall was 12-16 last season, but it's 1-0 this year, having defeated UNC Greensboro, 82-80, in overtime.

"Obviously, this is an important game for us," Jirsa said. "It is still early in the season, but Robert Morris will be a tough opponent because of its style of play and having four returning starters who can easily average in double figures."

Jirsa's said he's pleased to have Robert Morris on the schedule.

"We always want to play the best (nonconference) teams in our region," Jirsa said. "I am happy this game is at home.

"I have watched Robert Morris on tape, and they have many weapons. But my group of players is pretty determined. They are really working well together."

Additional Information:

Today's game

Robert Morris (1-0) at Marshall (1-0)

When, where: 7 p.m., Cam Henderson Center, Huntington, W.Va.

Radio: WPIT-AM (730)

Probable starters

Robert Morris F A.J. Jackson 6-6, 25.0 ppg C Freddie Harris 6-9, 4.0 ppg G Jeremy Chappell 6-3, 5.0 ppg G Derek Coleman 5-11, 19.0 ppg G Tony Lee 6-0, 13.0 ppg

Marshall F Travis Aikens 6-4, 21.0 ppg F Markel Humphrey 6-5, 8.0 ppg C Jean Francois Bro Grebe 6-9, 4.0 ppg G Chris Ross 6-1, 8.0 ppg G Mark Dorris 6-2, 14.0 ppg

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