Chuck Landon: Herrion happy with ugly win
Never let Tom Herrion judge a beauty contest.
He'd pick the girl with the most scars every time.
Don't believe it?
Then, ask Marshall's head coach about the Herd's 70-67 win over Morehead State on Wednesday night before 5,877 fans who couldn't make themselves look away from their seats in the Henderson Center.
"I'm excited about the win," said Herrion enthusiastically during his post-game press conference. "I'm excited about how we won.
"There's nothing wrong with an ugly win. There's nothing wrong with winning ugly. I thought that was a really good test for our club."
It was a test for everyone who witnessed this ultra-physical foul-fest, which featured more than one foul per minute (49 fouls in 40 minutes).
It was ugly. It was brutal. It would have shattered any mirror.
And Herrion loved every ugly, brutal, scarred moment of it.
"I'm thrilled with this win," he continued. "I love grinders. Those are the kind of games you get a lot better in. You find ways."
When Herrion mentioned grinders, he wasn't referring to a sandwich. A double-team, perhaps, but not a sandwich.
Instead, he meant a rugged, blood and guts, take no prisoners kind of basketball warfare that erupts on occasion.
The Morehead State game was one of those times. And it came as no surprise. After all, the Eagles do lead the nation in personal fouls.
And they committed lots and lots of grown men fouls.
"Coach told us all week they were going to be aggressive," said DeAndre Kane, who contributed 13 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. "Can't say enough about the officials. Bad calls all night."
No surprise there, either.
"Coach said they foul so much, they'll not get called for all of them," said Kane.
That's why Marshall shot 44 free throws to Morehead State's 16.
"We out-scored them 28-8 at the foul line," pointed out Herrion. "Write about that. Don't write about how many we missed, write about 28-8."
Duly noted and written.
Of course, Marshall should have been accustomed to this no-holds-barred, no-fouls-called style of play. They engage in it every day in practice.
"We bang every day in practice and coach calls no fouls," said Kane. "We're used to it now."
Herrion calls no fouls in practice and the officiating crew didn't call nearly enough personals in the game.
Sounds like a wash to me.
It also sounds like a recipe for an ugly game.
"We hung our hats tonight on defense," said Herrion. "I really feel good about tonight. When I'm walking out of my office later on tonight, I'll feel good because we defended and rebounded.
"You tell them there's a tree in the road, you tell them there's a tree in the road. ... until they hit the tree, they don't know it.
"Defend and rebound wins games. We were relentless on the glass and defensively I thought we were really good. Offense is fickle. We found that out tonight."
Yes, offense is indeed fickle. Much like beauty. That's another reason Herrion likes ugly wins so much.
"I didn't think we'd struggle as much as we did on offense in the first half," said Herrion. "But I love watching our kids play in a grinder where things don't come easy.
"It must have been hard to watch."
Oh, it was, Tom, it was.
It was enough to make Miss Congeniality cuss.
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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