Chuck Landon: Without Kane, MU not able to produce
Now, we know what rock bottom looks like.
That's what Marshall's basketball program hit Wednesday night.
In one of the most atrocious performances imaginable under the circumstances, the Herd was defeated, 53-51, by unsung Delaware State.
Try these scenarios on for size.
Delaware State arrived with a 5-8 record. The Hornets' wins were over Gwynedd-Mercy (who?), Cairn (who again?), Wagner, Maryland Eastern Shore and Delaware. That's a veritable "Who's That?" of college basketball.
Besides those unimpressive victories, it appeared the Hornets had lost most of their sting when four players were suspended for the Marshall game. The list included Delaware State's only double-figure scorer, another starter, its best big man and a key reserve.
Marshall was coming off a 10-day break between games and had about 11 practices to do a make-over on its ugly offense, find a way to defend the 3-point line, settle on a starting point guard, reduce turnovers, improve free throw shooting and fix shoddy shot selection.
On paper, on the court, on any reasonable rationale the Delaware State Hornets should have been the perfect patsy.
So, why weren't they?
It's because Marshall plays like a rudderless ship sails.
It has no direction. It has no leadership. It has no unity. It has no teamwork. It has no camaraderie. It has no esprit de corp. It has no sense of togetherness.
And don't blame that on Tom Herrion.
No coach can provide or produce those qualities.
"I'm befuddled," said Herrion.
Well, sort of.
Actually, Herrion knows precisely what the problem is.
The reason Marshall has lost three of its last four games is the Herd's toughness, swagger and unquestioned confidence is sitting on the bench in street clothes.
Marshall misses injured guard DeAndre Kane more than anybody expected.
I mean, does anybody actually think for one realistic minute that Marshall would have lost to the likes of a Delaware State at home in the Henderson Center if Kane had been playing?
Not a chance.
He would have refused to lose. He would have put the Herd on his back. He would have played with the same fervor, the same gutsiness, the same perseverance he displayed when he carried Marshall to a triple-overtime win over Tulsa in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Tournament last season.
Kane is Marshall's missing link.
And it showed again Wednesday night.
Oh, Dennis Tinnon tried valiantly to fill that role, producing a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) and providing the best two assists of the night. But he's a family man, not a tough kid from a tough town with a tough mouth and a tough attitude.
It showed in Tinnon's comments after the game.
"It really sucks to lose," he said. "We didn't expect to lose this one. I don't think we take it seriously enough. I'm sick of losing.
"We've been working so hard. When you work this hard for a week, you expect to come out on fire. But we didn't. We said, 'Well, we lost to Delaware State' and just accepted it. I'm tired of losing.
"I'm not out here playing for fun."
Tinnon clearly is getting fed up. So are Marshall's fans, who booed loudly with 13:45 remaining.
I'm not a big fan of supporters booing their team, but this time I couldn't blame them.
This loss shouldn't have happened ... even without Kane.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or email@example.com.
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