Preceding Missouri State's January 14 game versus Evansville, it was announced that Marcus Marshall (Jr-G), the team's leading scorer and on court leader, would not be playing. Two days after the 56-54 loss to the Purple Aces, the Missouri State Bears announced that Marcus Marshall will leave the team and be pursuing a transfer after the season.
The Bears are currently in the middle of a disappointing 8-9 (2-3) season. After the team's second straight MVC loss to Illinois State, Head Coach Paul Lusk criticized the team's defensive play. Reportedly, Marshall was frustrated with Lusk and the two had verbal disagreements that resulted in Marshall's suspension leading up to the Evansville game.
The departure of Marshall is significant for the Bears, as his 19.5 points per game and .456 three point percentage easily lead the team, with Austin Ruder (So-G) coming into second in both categories with a distant 8.5 ppg and .372 3P%. Earlier in the season while Marshall was sitting out with an injury the offense appeared lethargic and disjointed.
Players transferring away from Missouri State is not uncommon under Lusk, but this is the first time a team leader jumped from the program. This is also the first time that it seemingly resulted from a divide between Lusk and the player.
Marcus Marshall is the 8th player, in 3.5 years, to transfer out under Lusk. That's incredibly alarming. #MSUBears— Bear Boulevard (@BearBoulevard) January 16, 2015
The transfer of Marshall begs the question of if the former Purdue assistant has lost control, or at least the respect, of his team. It seems plausible that other transfers may have also occurred due to friction between Lusk and his players.
It is unlikely that much pressure will mount for Lusk to be fired based on Marshall's transfer, but the Bears' lack of production in a season they were expected to compete for third in the conference has left some Missouri State fans divided on the direction of the program.