Herd's transfers embrace defense
HUNTINGTON -- D.D. Scarver and Elijah Pittman were big junior college scorers, but both players say they're not one-dimensional.
That's good, because with Marshall University men's basketball coach Tom Herrion, defense comes first.
Scarver knows playing defense at Marshall is a given.
"You have to guard," Scarver, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, said before Marshall practice Thursday in Cam Henderson Center.
Pittman said he loves playing defense, and earned awards for it at both junior colleges he attended.
"i'd rather get a stop than go to score first," he said.
Marshall, the 2012 Conference USA runner-up that made a National Invitation Tournament postseason appearance, puts its new talent on display at 7 p.m., Monday, in an exhibition game against Bluefield College in Cam Henderson Center.
All 4,500 chairback reserved seats for Marshall home games were claimed by season ticket-holders. General admission tickets for the exhibition game are $5.
"They're talented enough to step right on the floor for us," head coach Tom Herrion said about the juco imports at Marshall Media Day. "They're two real talented kids. Scarver can really shoot it. He's a tough kid. Elijah is real talented, a gifted player."
Scarver, a 20-year-old from Birmingham, Ala., was ranked 23rd among junior college prospects by JucoRecruiting.com following an All-American season at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas.
The Region XIV Player of the Year averaged 24.1 points per game on 43 percent shooting from the field, 39 percent on 3-pointers and 83 percent on free throws. He had a 17-point scoring average as a freshman all-region player for the Cardinals.
Donna Scarver's son was an all-state player at Jackson-Olin High School in Birmingham.
The 6-9, 219-pound Pittman, a native of Covington, Ky., was ranked No. 21 on the JucoRecruiting.com list.
Pittman, 21, received All-Region XIV second team recognition at Lamar State College in Port Arthur, Texas, where he averaged 18.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots. He was a 56 percent field goal shooter.
He also played one season at Chipola College in Florida, averaging 13.1 points and 5.1 rebounds.
Herrion said Scarver and Pittman have shown flashes offensively, but it's a transition year for them both -- especially on the defensive end.
Scarver has noticed a difference from junior college to NCAA Division I.
"It's definitely faster, and way better competition," he said.
The soft-spoken Scarver said Herrion's intensity is infectious and reminds him of his junior college coach, Pat Smith.
Scarver's goals for the season are simple.
"Just win," he said. "Play hard and everything else will come."
Pittman said he wants to play with energy and be the player he's known for.
The son of Joshua Pittman and Victoria Morton was on the Covington Holmes High School team that won the 2009 Kentucky Sweet 16, so he knows the feeling of winning championship.
He'd like to experience it again.
"It's a feeling that never goes away," Pittman said.
Forward from Michigan visits
HUNTINGTON -- James Kelly, a 6-foot-8, 238-pound junior college forward, visited Marshall men's basketball practice Saturday.
Kelly is a sophomore at Owens Community College in Toledo, Ohio. He was a 2012 All-Ohio Community College Athletic Conference second team selection with averages of 17.5 points and 9.8 rebounds, along with a school-record 58 blocked shots.
Rivals.com reports the Ann Arbor, Mich., native is also being recruited by Louisiana Tech and St. Bonaventure.
-- The Herald-Dispatch