A Quiet Yell
If you are Connecticut forward Don-yell Marshall, there are pros and cons to being what college coaches call a "quiet player." First, the cons.
Recruiters don't show much interest in you until your senior year of high school, and those who do recruit you know more about your grandmother than they do about you.
During your freshman year, as burlier upperclassmen toss your spindly body around like a rag doll, you slouch into coach Jim Calhoun's office and say, "I don't think I'm cut out for the Big East."
When Spike Lee stops in at this season's Big East Media Day, he approaches your teammate Donny Marshall and suggests that he's ready for the NBA now. "You mean Donyell," Donny says. "He's over there."
Those are the cons. The pros are everything else. With all the fanfare of a snow-flake, Marshall, a mild-mannered 6' 9" junior, has become not only the best forward in the Big East, but also, along with Purdue's Glenn Robinson, one of the top forwards in the country. Out of nowhere, it seems, Marshall has emerged as a devastating player who at week's end was averaging 25.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and nearly four blocks. How good has he been? After Connecticut's highly touted freshman guard, Ray Allen, had a subpar game against St. John's, Calhoun asked Allen why he seemed to have disappeared on the court. "Coach," said Allen, shaking his head, "I was watching Donyell."
You have to watch him because there's not much to listen to. "No, I don't make a lot of noise," says Marshall, whose teammates call him Yell, presumably with some degree of irony. "It's not my style."
His team is making quite a racket, however. As of Sunday, UConn was 16-1, and last week it became the first Big East team in seven years to get off to a 6-0 start in league play. Marshall is the biggest reason for the Huskies' ascendancy, but not the only one. Using a four-guard rotation of juniors Kevin Ollie and Brian Fair, and two dandy freshmen—Allen and Doron Sheffer—UConn is moving the ball better than Husky teams of recent vintage.
Following in the footsteps of Nadav Henefeld and Gilad Katz, Sheffer is UConn's latest Israeli recruit—and potentially the best. "Doron will become one of the best guards in the country," says Calhoun. "He's got natural leadership and maturity."
To say Sheffer is mature might be an understatement—he's a 21-year-old freshman. As for his poise, "He grew up 15 minutes from Syria and served in the military," says Calhoun, "so a double team really doesn't bother him." Sheffer also has a 3.5 grade point average. His only B? Hebrew culture.