Chuck Landon: Kane keeps his faith even after tough loss
DeAndre Kane rolled his eyes as he listened to questions and answers during the post-game press conference.
He muttered under his breath.
He spoke volumes with his body language.
Then, finally, when Marshall’s star guard was away from the glare of television cameras in a more private setting, the frustration spilled out of him like oil from the Exxon Valdez.
“We’re the best team in the league, man,” said Kane, after Marshall’s 71-59 loss to Conference USA leader and No. 22 ranked Memphis Saturday night before 6,116 fans in the Henderson Center.
“We’re the most talented team in the conference. We’re the most athletic team in the conference. I’m not backing off of that. I’m not changing my mind on that.
“We’re the best team in the league.”
Gets everyone’s attention, though, doesn’t it?
Granted, it sounds more than a little far-fetched considering Memphis is 22-3 overall and 11-0 in C-USA compared to Marshall’s losing records of 11-15 and 4-7 respectively.
But don’t you have to admire Kane’s passion, his fervor and his unshakeable belief that the unrealized potential of this Marshall team still can be tapped like a vein of West Virginia coal?
I certainly admire it.
And, goodness knows, we all feel his angst.
“I’m frustrated,” said Kane, after contributing 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists. “I’m not used to losing. I was 76-0 in high school (Schenley High in Pittsburgh, Pa.). Then, I was 32-1 in prep school (The Patterson School in North Carolina).
“I’m used to winning. I’m tired of losing. This is really getting frustrating.”
Besides those ultra-successful years in high school and prep school, Kane was a standout on Marshall teams that won 21 games in 2011-12 and 22 games in 2010-11.
So, he probably has never lost like this in his life. And he doesn’t like it. More important, Kane refuses to accept it or make excuses for losing.
“We’re still trying to find our chemistry,” said the 6-foot-4 junior point guard. “We still have guys losing their man on defense. We still have guys who don’t know all the plays.
“We still have to figure out when to shoot the ball and when not to shoot the ball. We still need more focus. We still need more preparation.”
Besides those needs, Marshall still needs to play much better defense and be much more physical.
“The first half we got no stops on defense,” said Kane, referring to Memphis shooting 51.4 percent on field-goal attempts and taking a 43-26 lead. “We didn’t play physical at all.
“They played like men, we played like boys.”
But does that mean Kane is throwing in the towel? Is the Herd’s leader giving up on this season?
Not a chance.
It isn’t in Kane’s DNA.
“I’m not giving up on this team,” said Kane with quiet determination. “I feel like we can compete with anyone in the country. We just have to put the pieces together.”
The clock is ticking on that puzzle with only five regular-season games remaining, but Kane already has one eye on the Conference USA Tournament in Tulsa, Okla.
“The year’s not over,” he said firmly. “We can still make a crazy run. We’ll see them (Memphis) again in Tulsa.”
That might be interesting because I agree with Kane on one very interesting and, yes, very controversial premise.
Marshall is the only team in C-USA that can beat Memphis.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or email@example.com.