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Herd opens 100th season

Nov. 09, 2012 @ 12:28 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Rob Goff's right knee is feeling good and he's raring to go for Marshall University's 100th season of men's basketball.

Goff is one of three Marshall seniors -- Nigel Spikes and Dennis Tinnon are also seniors -- beginning their final season Friday at 7:30 p.m., when the Thundering Herd entertains Longwood University in Cam Henderson Center.

"I had a hard time sleeping last night," Goff said before Thursday's practice. "I got up at 6 to watch a couple more practice tapes. I had class at 8. And I had more (knee) treatment."

The 6-foot-9, 240-pound Goff joins Tinnon and junior guard Dre Kane as returning starters from a 21-14 team that finished as the Conference USA runner-up and lost a National Invitation Tournament first round game at Middle Tennessee State.

He started 33 times in 35 games, averaging 6.1 points and 4.6 rebounds with 38 blocked shots and 16 steals after playing two junior college seasons.

Goff injured his knee in May and had arthroscopic surgery. Now, he plays wearing a bulky brace. He was held out of an exhibition game because the knee problem flared up.

"The biggest thing is just not worrying about it when I get out there," Goff said.

Mostly, Goff watched while the Thundering Herd went through its summer workouts.

Head coach Tom Herrion said Goff, who turns 23 on Wednesday, returned from the layoff bigger, stronger and perhaps better prepared.

"I think it helped (him) a little bit getting to watch some stuff," Herrion said.

Kane, a preseason All-CUSA first team selection who led last season's team with a 16.5 scoring average, and Spikes, a 6-10 center, also sat out the exhibition game because of a coach's decision and Herrion said Thursday he'll decide when they play.

Freshman guard Kareem Canty has also been out because of an NCAA eligibility issue.

Redshirt freshman guard DeVince Boykins will be sidelined for a few more weeks because of a knee injury, but Herrion said he has plenty of options.

"Offensively, we have a lot of weapons, but we're still trying to put the pieces together," Herrion said. "Defensively, we're getting better. We've got to keep hammering it home. We're not where we need to be."

Rebounding is a team strength led by the 6-8 Tinnon, a preseason all-conference second team pick, who was 22nd in the nation last season with 10.0 per game. Tinnon also scored 10.2 points as one of only 21 players nationally who averaged a double-double.

Goff said experience and the addition of two junior college transfers -- 6-9 forward Elijah Pittman and 6-4 guard D.D. Scarver -- make Marshall more athletic and a better defensive team.

Longwood from Farmville, Va., had a 10-21 record last season as an NCAA Division I independent and is opening its first season as a Big South Conference member.

Herrion is familiar with Longwood coach Mike Gillian from their days in the Division II ranks -- Herrion as an assistant at Merrimack and Gillian as an assistant at American International.

"I know they'll play really, really hard," Herrion said.

Tristan Carey of the Lancers is a 6-4 junior who averaged 13.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists last season. He shot 44 percent from the field and was 55 of 156 (35 percent) on his 3-point attempts.

Longwood's other probable starters are 6-3 freshman Nik Brown, 6-4 junior David Robinson, 6-9 freshman Michael Kessens and 6-6 sophomore Frank Holloway.

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