Marshall women in tough
HUNTINGTON -- In women's basketball, Marshall University and West Virginia University are two programs at completely opposite ends of the spectrum.
Marshall (4-3) is trying to turn its program around under first-year head coach Matt Daniel while West Virginia (4-2) has a perennial Top 25 team under 12-year veteran coach Mike Carey. They collide at 7 p.m., Tuesday, in the Charleston Civic Center.
"Tuesday night is without a doubt a tall order," Daniel said. "It's not only about head-to-head, but also where the two programs are. Coach Carey's established a tradition and a way of how they are going to operate and we've been around a few months."
Daniel is not one to sugarcoat any scenario faced him.
He knows the Mountaineers are talented and stake their claim on making the opposing offense look bad.
On Sunday, West Virginia forced Virginia into 23 turnovers while limiting the Cavaliers to just 26 percent shooting and seven assists on 15 field goals in the Mountaineers' 54-47 win.
Marshall is struggling to find consistency on the offensive end while getting acclimated to Daniel's scheme, and such was seen over the weekend in a tournament at Eastern Kentucky when the spurty Thundering Herd dropped a decision to Jackson State on Friday before rebounding with a win over Presbyterian on Saturday.
The Herd's field goal percentage has been solid when it has been able to run its offensive sets, but getting into those sets has become a daunting task in itself at times.
Marshall committed 22 turnovers in the 67-63 loss to Jackson State, but cut that number to 15 turnovers in a 59-51 win over Presbyterian.
In both contests, the Herd shot well over 40 percent from the floor -- a positive sign for Daniel.
However, he said his team still needs to find its confidence and swagger to do it on a consistent basis.
"When we executed we got buckets and got stops, but when we didn't execute we didn't get either," Daniel said. "We should've been the best team in the event and we weren't. That's the point we need to get to -- when we walk in and know that if we do our job, we'll have success."
Daniel is focused more on his team's execution in the contest than on the final score of the game itself.
He said this game can be a major teaching tool for his players heading into the rest of the season.
"We're going to focus on competing and trying to execute," Daniel said. "If we can do it in a game like this, then we'll have some success quicker than what we think and if we can't, it's going to be a long night -- just as it would be in any game where we don't execute."
Shay Weaver leads Marshall with 12.7 points per game and is in the top-20 nationally in 3-pointers made per game at 3.17. Chukwuka Ezeigbo is adding 8.4 points and 6.4 points per game in the post.
For West Virginia, which has been ranked nationally in recent weeks and fell just outside the poll this week, the season has taken on a bit of a different tone since the loss of 2011-12 all-Big East post-player Asya Bussie to a knee injury in the first week of practice.
The Mountaineers are much-more guard-oriented this season with juniors Taylor Palmer and Christal Caldwell. Palmer leads the team with 11 points per game while Caldwell is also in double-figures at 10.3.
This is the 52nd meeting between the schools and West Virginia has won each of the last seven. The Herd fell 69-57 in last year's contest.