Rick McCann: MU plays on busy night in Tri-State
Friday will be one of the busiest times for Tri-State sports fans ever.
High school football playoff games at Huntington High Cabell Midland, Spring Valley, Wayne and Wahama while Hurricane and Ironton play away from home.
Spring Valley and Cabell Midland volleyball teams in state tournament action at the Charleston Civic Center.
And, a tripleheader of Marshall teams in action at Cam Henderson Center.
Marshall women's basketball opens the season at noon against Radford.
Thundering Herd volleyball plays at 4 p.m. against Tulane.
Marshall men's basketball opens the season at 7:30 p.m. against Longwood.
TALKIN' HERD: College Basketball Talk at NBCSports.com ranked two Marshall players among the best nationally at their positions. Dre Kane was listed as the 17th best shooting guard. Forward Dennis Tinnon checked in as the 18th best power forward.
NO RESPECT: Bracketology by Joe Lunardi for ESPN.com now has Conference USA as a one-bid league with only Memphis projected to make the NCAA tournament. Lunardi's very early projection back in the spring had Marshall as a team on the bubble.
ON THE AIR: Marshall basketball will be on the air from 8 to 9 p.m., Thursday, with the first "Tom Herrion Call-in Show" from Gino's Pub and Family Fun Center, 2501 5th Ave., on WDGG 93.7-FM, WRVC 930-AM and 94.1-FM.
"Voice of the Herd" Steve Cotton hosts the show.
Fans can submit questions to Herrion in person, by calling 866-736-5889 or by sending a tweet to @HerdCotton.
LONGWOOD'S CLIMB: Longwood University men's basketball coach Mike Gillian has built an NCAA Division I program from the ground up.
Gillian is in his 10th season with an 85-189 record at Longwood that includes a reclassification period from Division II from 2003 to 2007.
The transition began in the 2003-04 season with seven scholarships, six less than Division I permits.
In 2008-09 the Lancers posted a 17-14 record -- the 18th best Division I turnaround from the previous season -- and Gillian was recognized by CollegeInsider.com as the Independents Coach of the Year.
They've had double-figure wins the last four seasons and were 10-21 in 2011-12.
Longwood completes the transition this season as a Big South Conference member.
Gillian coached previously as a George Mason University assistant for head coach Jim Larranaga from 1997 to 2003. The 2006 George Mason team was in the NCAA Final Four. He also coached at Bowling Green State University on Larranaga's staff in 1996-97.
THE LANCERS: Longwood is led by 6-foot-4 junior guard Tristan Carey, a returning starter, who averaged 13.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists last season.
David Robinson, a 6-4 junior, and Anthony Taylor, a 6-2 sophomore, also started some games.
The Lancers were picked for a last-place finish in the six-team Big County Conference North Division.
LOOKING AHEAD: Marshall's opening weekend also includes a 1 p.m., Sunday, game at Villanova that will be an ESPN3.com internet broadcast.
Villanova's first game is Friday against the District of Columbia.
The Wildcats won an exhibition game against Carleton University of Canada, 65-59.
"I think we showed that we could be a pretty good defensive team and a pretty good rebounding team," said Villanova head coach Jay Wright.
Mousphtaou Yarou, a 6-10 senior, led the Wildcats with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Six-foot-six sophomore guard Darron Hilliard added 15 points.
Villanova, 13-19 last season, was picked to finish 12th in the Big East Conference preseason coaches' poll.
VISITING: CBS Sports Network analyst Pete Gillen visited Wednesday with Marshall head coach Tom Herrion and watched the Herd practice.
Gillen had a 393-221 record in 20 seasons as the head coach at Xavier, Providence and Virginia. Herrion was part of his staff at Providence and virginia.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: The Herd has two birthdays in the first week of the season. Head coach Tom Herrion turns 45 on Tuesday. Senior forward Rob Goff will be 23 on Wednesday.
Sports editor Rick McCann covers Marshall men's basketball for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.