Kane proves clutch
HUNTINGTON -- The many faces of Dre Kane were all over the Cam Henderson Center on Saturday night.
A relaxed look after an acrobatic dunk in warm-ups. A perplexed look after an air ball to open the game. A less than satisfied look after chomping on a few kernels of green popcorn in the press room afterward.
"That's stale," he said.
But when it mattered most, the star Marshall University sophomore guard gave the look of determination.
He stepped to the free throw line with his Thundering Herd trailing rival UCF, 64-63, with 14.5 seconds left.
"(Damier) Pitts told me to knock them down," Kane said.
Three dribbles with the right hand, pause, and up with his stroke. Kane's first foul shot hit front rim and rolled forward through the hoop.
Next attempt, same routine. Swish.
Marshall up one.
"No pressure," he said. "It was good all along."
One defensive stand later, the Herd held on for a 65-64 win before a wild, glowstick-waving, Donnie Jones-mocking, A.J. Rompza-booing crowd of 8,379 fans.
Cue another Kane face.
This time, the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder, who came to Huntington by way of Jones before the Point Pleasant native took his coaching to Orlando, went with the celebration look.
A mini-lap around the floor. A smile and two thumbs up thrown toward a group of fans behind a basket.
On an evening when sideshows were being performed regularly, Kane wanted the main spotlight.
"I think we're all built for this stage," he said after pouring in a game-high 16 points mixed with seven rebounds and three assists. "We're 21, 20, 22 (years-old). We're grown men.
"It's just playing basketball."
But there were moments when MU coach Tom Herrion thought about taking away some of that playing time.
At the 19:30 mark of the second half, Kane picked up his third foul.
It was bench time, right?
"Obviously, we didn't plan that, but it happened pretty quick," Herrion said. "I rolled the dice with DeAndre. I left him."
Left him alone.
In a game where the whistle was blowing about almost as many times as UCF players were tweeting about their hotel accommodations Friday night, Herrion stuck with Kane on the hardwood despite the dangerous foul situation.
"He had a little bit of a better matchup with (Isaiah) Sykes because he's not a guy that puts a lot of pressure on you one-on-one," Herrion said. "That probably was the biggest reason why I left him in at that point."
Kane just went with it.
"That's part of the game," he said. "Coach left me in. He trusted me and I trusted him. I tried not to get that fourth one early."
With three fouls, Kane scored eight points.
With four, he scored an ever-so-valuable two.
Marshall's last offensive play put Kane in a position to make a winning move.
"We ran into a pick-and-pop action with Dago (Pena) to try to get a little confusion, maybe a switch," Herrion said. "We drove it off that. It was a good call, obviously.
"And obviously, the kid (Kane) steps up and makes pressure free throws."