Tamron is next Manning up
HUNTINGTON -- Scouting reports on Tamron Manning in high school said he could play both guard positions.
Marshall University men's basketball assistant coach Mark Cline recruited Manning with the thought he might move from playing the off-guard position to point guard.
"The two positions are pretty much the same," Manning said Wednesday before practice in Gullickson Hall.
Manning has played for just 23 minutes in six Marshall games as a freshman, and most of it was at the shooting guard position.
With starter Dre Kane sidelined indefinitely because of a hand injury, Marshall will have sophomore Chris Martin and Manning handling point guard duties.
Marshall (6-4), a winner in four of its last five games, takes on 11th-ranked University of Cincinnati (9-0) at 2 p.m., Saturday, in the Charleston Civic Center. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Cam Henderson Center box office weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., by phone at 304-696-4373 and 800-THE-HERD or online at HerdZone.com.
The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network, which is Ch. 174 on Huntington cable.
Cincinnati has demolished opponents by an average margin of 25 with an offense that averages 84.6 points and a defense that creates havoc.
Arkansas-Little Rock turned the basketball over 32 times last week when the Bearcats set a school mark with 23 steals in a 34-point romp. North Carolina A&T had 20 turnovers against Cincinnati, Oregon had 19 and Iowa State coughed it up 18 times.
Facing a young, unproven point guard should add fuel to the Bearcats' fire.
"They're going to try to be ready," Manning said. "I have to stay poised. If I make a turnover I have to not make another turnover.
"It's going to be a game of runs and I'll just try to stay poised."
Manning played on a Kentucky Sweet 16 state runner-up team last season at Scott County High School in Georgetown, Ky., as a do-it-all guard who averaged 15.3 points and grabbed 6.4 rebounds per game for the Cardinals, who were 34-5.
He said even in high school it seemed natural to be in a play maker's role, although he wasn't a point guard.
"Just bringing the ball up and making plays for other people," he said.
Marshall used Manning some at point guard last weekend when he logged 12 minutes of action against Coppin State. That was more than the 11 minutes he had in five previous appearances.
Manning took his turn running the point while also joining with redshirt freshman guard DeVince Boykins to provide a defensive spark in the second half when Marshall overwhelmed Coppin State with some 2-2-1 fullcourt, trapping pressure.
"Tamron Manning and Boykins in particular gave us really good minutes (tonight) and in that second half especially," said Marshall head coach Tom Herrion.
Kane's injury left the door open for other players to step in.
For Manning that means going from being an 18-year-old freshman wondering when his next opportunity to play might be to being someone counted on to provide productive minutes.
"I try not to change," he said. "I try to have the same focus."