Herd comes home
HUNTINGTON -- Playing at home might be just what the Marshall Thundering Herd needs.
Marshall, 2-3 to open the men's basketball season, is 0-2 in true road games and 1-1 at neutral sites. The Herd's only win at home was Nov. 9 against Longwood.
The schedule turns in Marshall's favor beginning with a 7 p.m., Saturday, contest against the Nevada Wolf Pack (3-1) in Cam Henderson Center.
The next three games are at home and six of the next 10 within a 125-mile radius of campus before Conference USA play begins Jan. 9 with another home game against Tulsa.
No games are easy, but playing at home is an advantage.
"We lost a few games, but we'll be all right," Marshall guard Dre Kane said this week. "We've just got to have a good week of practice. Practice hard and get ready for a good Nevada team."
Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said the remedy is playing smarter, more sound basketball.
Last weekend at the 2K Sports Classic subregional in Hempstead, N.Y., San Diego State overcame a five-point deficit in the final 20 seconds to defeat Marshall, 78-77. Hostra, the host school, beat Marshall, 103-100, in double overtime.
"Just a few games, a few lapses," Herd forward Elijah Pittman said.
Herrion expressed concern about the rebounding performance at Hofstra where the Pride, a team with no player taller than 6-foot-8, banged Marshall by a 57-43 margin. Marshall has seven players standing 6-8 or taller.
Marshall was also outrebounded by 14 in a loss at Villanova.
Last season, Marshall led C-USA in rebounding margin at 7.0 per game. This year's team is only sixth in the conference at 6.4.
Forward Dennis Tinnon (8.2 a game), center Nigel Spikes (7.4) and Pittman (6.8) are doing most of the Herd rebounding.
Free throws are another problem area.
Marshall is one of the poorest foul shooting teams in the nation at 62.9 percent. Opponents are making only 65.4 percent, but have made 27 more foul shots than the Herd. Herrion said some of the fouls can be attributed to defensive positioning.
"The discrepancy in free throw attempts is really alarming," Herrion said. "It's concerning. It's something we've got to correct as well."
Scoring hasn't been a problem with Marshall's average of 81.2 a game led by Kane (18.0), Pittman (14.2), guard D.D. Scarver (13.4) and Tinnon (10.4). Kane is ranked third in the nation with 8.4 assists per game.
Defensively, Marshall is giving up 73.2 points on average to rank last in C-USA.
"We have a long way to go, a long way to go," Herrion said. "We have a lot of season left, but we have to go in and adjust some things.
"What we are doing on the defensive end isn't good enough to win."
Nevada comes east with a three-game win streak after hosting the World Vision Classic last weekend and beating Cal State Fullerton (80-77), Green Bay (71-69) and Southern Utah (79-61).
The Wolf Pack is a first-year member of the Mountain West Conference. They went 28-7 last season, finished first in the Western Athletic Conference regular season with a 13-1 record and joined Marshall in the National Invitation Tournament..
MWC co-player of the week Deonte Burton and senior guard Malik Story lead Nevada's scoring with averages of 15.0 and 14.0 respectively. The both surpassed 1,000 career points last weekend.
"Their guard play is outstanding," Herrion said. "They've been in close games like us and they've won. And, they've played three out of four games at home."
Kevin Panzer of the Wolf Pack is a 6-9 forward scoring 7.3 points and getting 4.5 rebounds a game. A big front line also includes 6-8 Jerry Evans averaging 6.5 points with 3.3 rebounds and 6-10 Devonte Elliott posting 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds.