Chuck Landon: Why panic?
The rims are falling, the rims are falling.
That was the Chicken Little-like response from Marshall's basketball fans Tuesday evening.
No sooner did Marshall issue a press release announcing D.D. Scarver was leaving the men's basketball program to transfer elsewhere, than a wave of panic washed over the Herd Universe.
Marshall's fans immediately circled the SUVs.
Well, folks, I have just one question.
Was it just because a one-dimensional player such as Scarver was leaving? Was it because DeAndre Kane made one demand too many prompting head coach Tom Herrion to say, "Don't let the door to the Henderson Center hit you in the butt?" Was it because Chris Martin is a better person than player and transferred down to a level where he actually can compete?
Or was it a combination of all three?
My guess is the latter.
Whatever the reason or combination of circumstances, Marshall's fans appear to be giving Herrion a vote of no confidence much like Marshall's faculty is giving president Steve Kopp.
But before making that leap of no faith, indulge me a simple query.
What's wrong with a little house-cleaning of Marshall's basketball roster?
Remember, this is a team that won only 13 games last season. Thirteen. This is a team that played great basketball when it wanted to, but more often chose to go through the motions for entire halves and even games. This is a team that included players who were more concerned about their shots than their team's wins.
If ever there were a basketball program that needed a purging, it's Marshall's.
That's why fans should be excited to see some new faces and new energy.
There needed to be changes in Marshall's basketball program.
And, no, not at the top.
It was the roster that needed to be reinvented. And, now, it has been. Only small forward Elijah Pittman returns as a starter from a team that won just 13 games. Is that a bad thing? I certainly don't believe so.
I'm excited to see a new starting lineup of Kareem Canty at point guard, Ryan Taylor at power forward, Pittman at small forward, Cheikh Sane at center and a shooting guard to be named later. And, yes, I'm looking forward to watching Shawn Smith and TyQuane Goard as the backup small and power forwards respectively.
And who knows what guard Justin Edmonds might contribute if he's healthy?
In the meantime, Herrion and his coaching staff are looking for at least one and, perhaps, two shooting guards. But not just any shooting guard. That is the mistake they made with Scarver. The new recruit needs to be the right fit and the right piece in the puzzle.
That means he has to be tough, hard-nosed and a willing defender. Marshall might find him in the junior college ranks or he could be a graduate transfer. Maybe MU will find an outstanding academic non-qualifier and let him sit a year while a graduate transfer plays shooting guard.
There are creative ways to make it work.
The key is for Marshall to recruit players who fit Herrion's philosophy of being physically tough, aggressive and playing tenacious man-to-man defense.
More than anything, this is a make-over of Marshall's basketball program.
It was necessary.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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