Chuck Landon: Team-first approach will carry the Herd
Forget that 20-words-or-less concept.
That’s too easy.
The rest test is to summarize Marshall’s 94-60 men’s basketball exhibition win over Concord Monday night before 3,923 fans at the Henderson Center in one word.
That’s right, only one.
“Ragged” is a candidate.
Within the first 10 minutes, there were a pair of missed 3-point attempts that didn’t even hit the rim. There were also two lobs intended to create dunks that instead produced empty possessions.
So, yes, it was “ragged” early.
“We were still off a little bit as you could see with our lobs and our turnovers,” conceded freshman forward Ryan Taylor, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds. “I don’t know how many we had but Coach (Tom Herrion) was saying in the huddle we always don’t have to go for the home-run play as in the lobs, or the highlights.”
Another appropriate word is “sloppy.”
The combination of turnovers and surprisingly poor foul-shooting — just 8 of 17 (.471) in the first half — led to a meager 15-13 lead over the NCAA Division II opponent with 10:30 remaining in the half.
So, yes, it also was “sloppy.”
“At times it was sloppy,” admitted Herrion. “Early, early, early in the first half, I thought we played skittish. ... too fast. It was a little bit to be expected because there were so many new guys.”
But the best one-word description of Marshall’s exhibition game victory?
I believe it is. ... “unselfish.”
That’s a word that never ever was uttered when discussing the 2012-13 edition of the Thundering Herd.
And rightfully so.
Perhaps, the biggest culprit in the atrocious 13-19 season was the obvious selfishness that was so pervasive. Since the most selfish players are no longer at Marshall, there’s no sense in rehashing their names. Everyone knows who they were anyway.
The best part is this season’s team is as unselfish as last year’s was selfish. They proved that in the exhibition win over Concord.
Just look at the number of shots Marshall’s leading scorers took on Monday night. Kareem
Canty scored 15 points on nine field goal attempts. Shawn Smith had 15 on eight shots. Taylor had 14 on nine shots. Chris Thomas had 14 on an economical six shots. And Elijah Pittman had 14 points on 10 shots.
Pittman was the only player who took double-figure shots.
Now, that’s what I call sharing the ball.
“I like what we did out there today,” said Taylor, one of eight Marshall players who was credited with an assist. “We played as a team. We didn’t really care about who scored and we weren’t selfish with the ball. We went out there and had fun.”
How refreshing is that to hear?
After last season’s display of relentless selfishness, there couldn’t have been anything that Marshall’s fans needed to see more than the way the Herd shared the basketball on Monday night.
“I think we shared the ball well,” said Herrion. “We moved the ball. It didn’t get stuck. This isn’t a selfish team. They enjoy playing with each other. We try to make the extra pass. And we’ve got a lot of talented scorers.”
Were there still some problems?
“I was disappointed in free throws,” said Herrion. “We put so much time in, free throw-wise. I didn’t see that coming. But the positives far out-weigh the negatives.”
Especially one particular positive.
In a word?
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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