Herd on road at Villanova
HUNTINGTON -- A trio of former NCAA men's basketball champions dot the Marshall University schedule this season.
Marshall followers know all about Kentucky, which captured its eighth national title last season. The Wildcats host the Thundering Herd on Dec. 22 in Rupp Arena.
And, some people know about Cincinnati winning it all in 1961 and 1962. The Bearcats and Herd meet Dec. 15 in the Charleston Civic Center.
But, what about Villanova? The Wildcats won the national championship in 1985. The Wildcats were a Final Four team in 2009.
Villanova has 32 appearances in the NCAA tournament and made the Final Four in 2009. Marshall has been to the big event five times, but not since 1987.
Marshall (1-0) and Villanova (1-0) meet at 1 p.m., Sunday, in suburban Philadlphia at The Pavilion, a 6,500-seat facility that has been sold out for 124 consecutive games. Villanova's all-time record in the building on Ithan Avenue is 238-57, an 80.7 winning percentage.
"It's going to be a big test for us in their gym. A Big East (Conference) team," said Marshall guard Dre Kane. "We will be ready. We played teams like that last year, Cincinnati and Syracuse, and we'll be ready."
The game is part of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project, whose purpose is to raise awareness and enlist the public's aid for the needs of injured service members. Thirteen teams are in the NCAA-exempt event playing in regional and championship rounds.
Marshall continues after playing Villanova to subregional games at the Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead, N.Y., Friday (vs. District of Columbia, 4:30 p.m.), Saturday (vs. South Dakota State, 2:30 p.m.) and Sunday, Nov. 18 (vs. Hofstra, 3 p.m.) at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.
Villanova won Friday against District of Columbia (78-58) before playing Marshall, then moves into the championship round Thursday against Purdue at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
"Since I've been here we've played in some tough places," said third-season Marshall head coach Tom Herrion following Friday's season-opening 81-47 defeat of the Longwood Lancers. "We played Louisville two years ago. Had a chance, we were up at halftime. We went to the Carrier Dome (at Syracuse) last year. Been to Cincinnati. So we've played in some good places, and this will be a great environment Sunday afternoon."
Kane, a 6-foot-4 junior, was at the point guard position for extensive minutes against Longwood. The preseason All-Conference USA first team selection had 18 points, eight assists, four rebounds, three blocked shots, one steal and just one turnover in 32 minutes.
Junior college transfer guard D.D. Scarver also had 18 points in his Marshall debut and senior center Nigel Spikes added 10 points with nine rebounds and five steals, but Kane's performance stood out.
Kane controlled the game, Herrion said.
"He played at a great pace," Herrion said. "A lot of other guys, especially newer guys, play so fast because they are hyped up. Their adrenaline's going. DeAndre always seems to play at a really good pace for us. It's kind of how his game is."
Marshall dominated Longwood with a 50.9 percent shooting performance and a plus-22 rebounding edge.
But, Marshall also committed 19 turnovers and missed 11 of its 28 free throw attempts. Herrion said that many turnovers is an astronomical number that can't continue.
Kane said there is plenty to work on.
"We played good," Kane said. "We shot the ball well. But we turned the ball over 19 times. Coach stresses under 10."
Longwood head coach Mike Gillian was impressed with Marshall's size, saying there's not 10 teams in the nation as big as the Herd that started a lineup of Kane and Scarver, both 6-4, at the guards, 6-8 Dennis Tinnon and 6-9 Rob Goff at the forwards and the 6-10 Spikes at center. Herrion brought 6-9 Elijah Pittman, 6-8 Jamir Hanner, 7-2 Yous Mbao and 6-9 J.P. Kambola off the bench.
The Villanova Wildcats are also plenty big with a lineup against UDC of 6-6 Darren Hilliard and 6-3 Ryan Arcidiacono at guard, 6-7 JayVaughn Pinkston and 6-6 James Bell at foward and 6-10 Yarou Mouphtaou at center. Coach Jay Wright also played 6-11 Daniel Ochefu and 6-11 Maurice Sutton.
Six different Wildcats scored between nine and 12, led by Sutton (12), Arcidiacono (11) and Pinkston (10). Mouphtaou, Bell and 6-4 Achraf Yacoubou added nine each.
Villanova outrebounded UDC, 41-29, with Bell getting eight and Mouphtaou five.
"We played against a bunch of big guys last season, so nothing new,"Spikes said. "At 1 o'clock we're going to show up."
Herrion responded to a question about the size matchups by saying he's not sure many teams in the country have the size Marshall put on the court in its opener with Kane, Scarver, Tinnon, Goff, Spikes, Pittman, Mbao and Hanner.
"So, we'll see how they match up with us," he said.
2K Sports Classic schedule