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Marshall players anxious for action

Oct. 24, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Marshall Thundering Herd men's basketball has five days before an exhibition game against Bluefield College.

For the players, the 7 p.m., Monday, contest in Cam Henderson Center probably can't come soon enough, head coach Tom Herrion said.

Marshall has the exhibition game and a Nov. 3 closed-door scrimmage with the Winthrop Eagles in Beckley before opening the season at home Nov. 9 against new Big South Conference member Longwood University. The Herd finished last season 21-14 after playing in the Conference USA championship game and the National Invitation Tournament.

Herrion said the effort he's seen in preseason practices has been really good, but also said there are clearly some things the team needs to improve.

One of those things is eliminating turnovers.

"Collectively, we need to take care of the basketball," Herrion said before Tuesday practice in Cam Henderson Center. "It's been flying around too much."

Marshall is breaking in a new point guard to replace departed four-year starter Damier Pitts.

Herrion has some good options at the position with sophomore Chris Martin, freshman Kareem Canty, and junior All-C-USA guard Dre Kane.

Turnover problems aren't limited to the point guards, however.

"It's a collective issue," Herrion said. "We've got to slow down. We're playing skittish right now."

Herrion wants to pick up the tempo this season, but said players need to learn their own speed within the offense. He said they will.

Another preseason area of concern is developing a defensive identity.

"We have to be a team that guards consistently," Herrion said. "There were times (last season) we were real good defensively. But, it was too hit and miss at times.

"That contributes to you going 9-7 in conference play."

Marshall also wants to improve its free throw shooting. Last season Marshall was the worst free throw shooting team in the conference at 61.4 percent.

Herrion said each player has been devoting time to shooting hundreds of free throws every week.

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