Chuck Landon: MU misses mark minus its former top scorer
There's only one logical conclusion.
On Thursday, Marshall shot only 30.8 percent against North Texas' 2-3 zone defense.
Two days later, the Herd managed to shoot only 32.8 percent against Tulsa's man-to-man defense.
This Marshall team just can't shoot.
At least, not successfully.
Oh, MU's players certainly jack it up there. Three-pointers here, driving shots into the teeth of the defense there, forced shots everywhere.
So, obviously, the problem isn't attempts.
But shot selection? Making shots? Showing patience on offense? Taking open shots?
Ah, there's the dilemma.
Marshall proved that fact again during a 69-52 loss to Tulsa Saturday before an apathetic Henderson Center crowd of about 3,000, which was announced at 4,637.
The official attendance was about as accurate as Marshall's shooting.
Think it's a coincidence that Marshall has made only 87 of 249 field goal attempts for a miserable .349 shooting percentage while going 0-4 in Conference USA games?
This simply isn't a good shooting team.
"We're struggling offensively," said coach Tom Herrion. "We're challenged offensively right now. We can't get guys to play consistently on offense."
Case in point?
The sophomore guard was an unsightly 1-for-13 from the floor while scoring only four points against North Texas' zone defense. But against Tulsa's man-to-man, Thomas was 6-for-13 while scoring a team-high 14 points.
Case in point, Part II?
The freshman point guard was 8-for-17 and scored a game-high 26 points against the Mean Green's zone Thursday. But against Tulsa's man, Canty imploded for a 4 of 18 shooting night and only 12 points.
Obviously, Marshall is missing a go-to scorer.
And nobody noticed that more than Tulsa coach Danny Manning.
"I think if you look at the roster of the Marshall team," said Manning, "it's a talented group. But (Elijah) Pittman is a special player.
"You talk about taking that kind of offense out of your system in league play. ... someone who has had success in league play and understands what it's about. ... that is a little bit of an adjustment."
There, he said it.
The 6-foot-9 departed elephant in the room has been pointed out.
So, let's be honest about the situation. Marshall does indeed miss Pittman, offensively. What team wouldn't miss a senior who was averaging 21.4 points?
But Pittman isn't coming back.
That means Marshall has to move on, find a way to mount a reasonable offensive attack and shoot the ball at a much better clip than 34.9 percent.
So far, so bad.
Marshall has been its own worst enemy on offense. At times, the Herd's shot selection is atrocious. At times, there are such impatient possessions a 3-pointer is fired up without a single pass being made. At times, there is no post presence.
That's a recipe for losing.
And that's precisely what is happening. It's going to continue happening, too, as long as Marshall's offense remains a disaster area.
A team that can't shoot isn't going to win many games.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald- dispatch.com.
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