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Herd basketball set to open practice

Sep. 30, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- NCAA men's basketball practice begins officially Oct. 12, but teams have been working to get ready for months.

Coaches were allowed to work with players enrolled in summer school for for eight weeks with a limit of eight hours per week that included two hours of full-team workouts. Then, the coaches were permitted two hours a week of individual skill work with groups of four players at a time until mid-September.

Now, they're in a cycle of small group workouts along with two hours per week of practice as a team.

Beginning Oct. 12, teams can practice for 20 hours per week.

Marshall University will unveil its team at Thundering Herd Madness, an Oct. 12 event in Cam Henderson Center geared mostly toward the fans.

"This event gives our fans its first opportunity to see our team," Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said. "Herd Madness will be the start of what I think will be a very special season for our team."

Herrion has a lot to build on in his third season with the Herd.

Marshall was 21-14 last season, played for the Conference USA championship and went to the National Invitation Tournament for the first time in 24 years.

"We've had a good fall so far," Herrion said. "Overall, I'm relatively pleased. We've gotten bigger and stronger and we're in much better shape than we've been in. That's been a big emphasis for us, our conditioning.

"Now, we're at that grinding point. It's time to practice now."

Competition is making players better, Herrion said.

All-conference second team junior guard Dre Kane and 6-foot-8 senior forward Dennis Tinnon, a member of the C-USA All-Defensive Team, are almost sure starting players while others are vying for playing time. Kane is the top returning scorer (16.5) and scored 40 in a C-USA tournament triple-overtime quarterfinal defeat of Tulsa. Tinnon (10.2 points, 10.0 rebounds) was one of 21 players nationally to average a double-double.

Sophomore Chris Martin and freshman Kareen Canty are among the potential starting point guards, with Kane also in the picture.

Kane could also play the off-guard position where junior college transfer D.D. Scarver, redshirt freshman DeVince Boykins and freshman Tamron Manning are pushing for minutes.

Boykins is sidelined for a while because of a leg injury, Herrion said.

"I think we've got some flexibility and the ability to move some guys around," Herrion said.

Tinnon is joined inside by 6-10 senior Nigel Spikes, 6-9 senior Rob Goff, 6-9 junior college recruit Elijah Pittman, 6-8 sophomore Jamir Hanner, 7-2 junior Yous Mbao and 6-9 sophomore J.P. Kambola.

Goff has recovered from offseason knee surgery and is cleared to go. Herrion said Goff, who started 33 of 35 games last season, is bigger and stronger.

"There's a level of respectful competitiveness that's been very healthy," Herrion said. "They really get after one another in a positive way. We don't shy away from talking about competition because we have a lot of good players.

"They're going to have competition every day."

Marshall will have two-plus weeks of preseason practice before hosting Bluefield College for an Oct. 29 exhibition game.

The Nov. 9 season home opener is against Longwood University, a new member of the Big South Conference.

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