Chuck Landon: MU earned its right to play weak opponent
There was no shame in the Henderson Center Tuesday night.
I repeat, no shame.
Sure, Marshall hosted tiny Alice Lloyd College from even tinier Pippa Passes, Ky.
Google Earth that.
And, yes, the Eagles are an NAIA school several steps below Marshall's NCAA Division I status. Honestly, the Herd was way, way, way out of Alice Lloyd's league.
Yet, was there any shame in Marshall's extremely well played 121-57 demolition of a win over the out-manned Eagles before 4,126 fans?
"I'm not going to apologize for playing Alice Lloyd," said Marshall coach Tom Herrion.
And nor should he.
No team in America has played the murderer's row of a schedule Marshall's young, first-year player laden team has endured during a four-game losing streak.
Go ahead and check the schedules.
Nobody has played at an SEC opponent (69-67 loss to Vanderbilt), followed by an away game against a Big Ten foe (90-77 loss to Penn State), followed by a game on a neutral court against a Big 12 opponent (74-64 loss to West Virginia University in the Charleston Civic Center).
No team in the country has bitten off a schedule with such high-caliber consecutive road games.
Besides, there were 10 other games on Tuesday night alone featuring Division I schools against non-Division I opponents.
That's why there were no apologies.
That's why there was no shame.
That's why neither was necessary.
Marshall deserved to catch its competitive breath against an opponent it could dominate.
Right, Kareem Canty?
"We needed to get that monkey off our backs," said Marshall's freshman point guard.
So, they did.
Marshall shot a stunning 64.7 percent from the floor (44 of 68) including a .577 mark on 3-pointers (15 of 26), as well as a phenomenal 81.8 percent from the foul line (18 of 22).
That's another reason why there are no apologies or shame. The Herd didn't fool around despite the lack of competition. They didn't play street ball. They didn't act like this was a "Midnight Madness" farce. They didn't take ridiculous shots or try to make silly passes.
The Herd took care of business.
They played well. They played hard. They played like they're coached.
As a result, they dismantled a very plucky Alice Lloyd team that played hard to the final buzzer.
"They've got some moxie," said Herrion, referring to his inexperienced team. "They've got a little bit of 'it.' Our kids were really ready to play. We were so unselfish."
That started with Canty, who scored 18, 28 and 16 points respectively in Marshall's previous three games. But Tuesday night? He seldom looked for his own shot, while going 4 of 7 from the floor.
Instead, Canty decided to chase Marshall's one-game record for assists (18 by Greg White on Dec. 8, 1979 vs. CCNY).
"I came to shoot-around today," said Canty, "and said I wanted to break the school record."
He came close with 14, including 10 in the first half. But that's not the point. What's important is Canty was aiming at a record for being unselfish. That resulted in Marshall being devastating in transition.
"When we're running," said Canty, "we can play with anyone in the country."
So what if it came against Alice Lloyd?
This was a good win against anybody.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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