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Chuck Landon: Lack of experience showed in WVU loss

Dec. 17, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Welcome to "Second-Guess Tuesday."

Any readers joining this party a little tardy should know the premise is much like two-for-Tuesday specials. Buy one hindsight and the rest are free.

Let's get started.

The louder WVU's crowd roared, the faster Marshall's young Herd played.

That's the progression that led to a 16-2 closing run, which propelled the Mountaineers to a come-from-behind 74-64 win over Marshall Saturday night in Charleston.

And it underscored one often forgotten issue with this edition of the Herd. It is very, very young and very, very inexperienced.

How young and how inexperienced?

So much so, not a single Marshall player who participated Saturday night scored a point in the 2012 Capital Classic won by WVU, 69-59.

Not one.

In fact, DeVince Boykins is the only Marshall player who even played in both 10-point losses to WVU.

In 2012, Marshall's players included DeAndre Kane, Elijah Pittman, D.D. Scarver, Dennis Tinnon, Chris Martin, Rob Goff and Jamir Hanner.

But they are all gone.

So, this year it was freshman Kareem Canty, sophomore Chris Thomas, freshman Ryan Taylor, sophomore TyQuane Goard and junior college transfers Cheikh Sane and Shawn Smith.

All newcomers and all first-year players.

As a result, when the roar of WVU's fans began, the young Herd wasn't savvy enough to slow the pace, work for a good shot and take the crowd out of the game. Instead, inexperienced MU fell headlong into the trap, pushing the ball downcourt, trying to force drives to the basket and taking quick, hurried shots.

It was a recipe for disaster.

And, in retrospect, Marshall's players realize it.

"We were moving too fast as a group," said Canty, who was the best player on the floor MVP voting notwithstanding. "We got frustrated."

The young Herd learned the hard way.

But Marshall will be the better for it when it hosts Alice Lloyd at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Henderson Center.

Marshall's football program reached out and connected with the community last Saturday.

At long last.

When Marshall's players, coaches and even the coaches' wives participated in the Kickoff for Kids Toy Drive in conjunction with 93.7 The Dawg and radio personality Julie Reeves at the Barboursville Wal-Mart, it was much needed interaction.

There had been a disconnect between MU and the community all season, starting with none of the preseason scrimmages being open to the public, the only preseason fan event being held in Charleston and practices being closed.

But all that changed Saturday.

The players reached out to the fans and they reached back. It was a wonderful move.

Now, Marshall needs to keep reaching and keep renewing that relationship with the community.

Will Elijah Pittman return from indefinite suspension anytime soon?

Only coach Tom Herrion knows for sure.

But it doesn't seem to make much sense to bring the 6-foot-9 senior back from limbo before his Cabell County court date on January 16. That's when Pittman will face misdemeanor battery charges stemming from an altercation in October 2012.

So, why bring Pittman back and run the risk of having to suspend him again if there's an unfavorable verdict?

Enough said.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.



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