Chuck Landon: Herd will get a rest it failed to earn
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Marshall's players have four days off for the holidays.
Four short days.
"They are due back on Dec. 27th at 6 p.m.," said head coach Tom Herrion. "We will practice that night. It's the biggest break we've had since I've been here."
Considering the circumstances, perhaps it's too big.
In fact, maybe it is way too long judging by Marshall's embarrassing second-half performance during an 82-54 loss to the University of Kentucky Saturday before 24,271 fans here in Rupp Arena.
Anybody agree with me?
One long, lean arm connected to a 6-foot-10 frame shot into the air.
"Me, personally," said Nigel Spikes, "I don't think we need any days. Coach didn't need to give us any time off."
Ah, an oasis of accountability in a desert of cut-and-running for Christmas break.
Bless you, Nigel.
Someone gets it. Someone understands how many problems on Marshall's basketball team need fixing. Someone realizes that as innately talented as Kentucky's players are, the Wildcats aren't 28 points better than Marshall.
Not even in Rupp Arena.
"No, they aren't," said Spikes firmly, after grabbing 16 rebounds. "Not at all. We beat ourselves in this game. We didn't play hard. We didn't play smart.
"I hope coach kills us over the break."
Spoken like a young man who left it all on the Rupp Arena court Saturday. Which Spikes most certainly did.
"How many opponents do you think get 16 rebounds against Kentucky?" asked Herrion rhetorically. "How many guys come into Rupp and do that?"
So far this season, only one.
So, the senior center deserves the podium.
"I feel like we had the game at one point," said Spikes. "Then, we just let it get out of hand."
Spikes was referring to Marshall's 7-0 run to start the second half, which cut Kentucky's lead to 33-31. But, then, Kentucky went on a 29-6 run during a span of 10:25 to turn the game into a blowout.
Should the National Weather Service have issued a wind advisory for the second half?
Spikes doesn't think so.
"We came out in the second half throwing big punches," he said. "Then, we let up. Coach prepared us. It's not coach's fault. He broke down everything we needed to cover.
"We've got a really good team, but we aren't putting the pieces of the puzzle together."
Some how, some way that has to change during the 10 days before Marshall's next game against Delaware State at 7 p.m. on Jan. 2 in the Henderson Center.
What's the answer?
Dennis Tinnon believes it's getting in the gym and working on basketball even during the four-day break.
"For me," said the senior forward, "I'm going to get in the gym as soon as I get home. Instead of laying around or partying like crazy, I hope everyone else realizes they need to get in the gym because there is stuff they need to work on.
"I know me ... I'm going to be in the gym."
Make that two guys that get it.
So, just exactly what kind of stuff needs worked on?
"We didn't do a good job on long rebounds today," said Tinnon, noting Kentucky missed 14 shots from 3-point range. "We need four guys going to the glass at all times. And we can't melt when things don't go right.
"I don't feel well at all being 7-6."
Tinnon obviously was disgusted. Same goes for Spikes. Let's hope it's contagious.
A Christmas shouldn't be very merry with a 7-6 record.
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. He can be reached by phone at (304) 526-2827 or by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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