Ex-Florida assistant Jones takes reins at Marshall

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- With two national championships on his
resume, Donnie Jones returned to his home state with big hopes for
Marshall basketball.

"We've got to get behind the team we have right now," he said
Saturday during his introduction as coach of the Thundering Herd.
"We've got to make them dream again. We've got to start setting
our goals high."

Jones was an assistant at Florida, helping the Gators win two
straight NCAA titles. His hiring at Marshall was announced by
Florida coach Billy Donovan a day earlier during a championship

Jones replaces Ron Jirsa, who was fired after a 43-74 record in
four seasons. Jones now wants to change the mind-set at Marshall,
bringing a bit of Florida with him.

"Our team went to a national championship last year, and it
wasn't only because of talent," he said.

Rather, he credited a culture that focused on a "we" mentality
and encompassed the entire university, not just the basketball

He said the Thundering Herd will try to emulate Florida --
pressing, running and playing as a team. He said five or six
scholarship players under consideration will add depth and talent.

Jones is from Point Pleasant and started coaching as a graduate
assistant at Marshall in 1990, spending four years as an assistant.
Two were under Donovan, whom Jones followed to Florida in 1996.

Jones said he and his wife, Michelle, cried while watching "We
Are Marshall." The movie recounts the 1970 plane crash that killed
75 people, including most of the football team and coaches.

"The people in this community make this school special," Jones
said. "There's no reason that we can't have the same kind of
success that they've had in the past really quick."