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Chuck Landon: Struggling Herd will be tested in practice

Dec. 27, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Everybody is familiar with "Camp Cal."

That's the basketball boot camp University of Kentucky coach John Calipari put his struggling Wildcats through recently during a break in their non-conference schedule.

Well, guess what?

A very similar scenario involving Marshall's foundering Herd will debut at 6 p.m., Thursday, in the Henderson Center.

Call it "Camp Cam."

Call it "Herrion's House of Corrections."

Or call it "Tommy's Torture."

All three monikers will apply. Marshall's third-year coach Tom Herrion will see to that. And justifiably so.

The Herd has six days available for practice, practice and more practice before Marshall hosts Delaware State at 7 p.m. on Jan. 2 in the Henderson Center.

And it all begins Thursday.

"The players are due back at 6 p.m. and we'll practice," said Herrion. "We'll have a minimum of nine and maybe 10 practices during those six days."

Since Marshall is on semester break and there are no classes, the Herd can devote all its time to finding a solution at point guard, fixing an offense that has been as ugly as it is inefficient and settling on a rotation before the beginning of Conference USA play on Jan. 9.

There is a lot of work to be done. That's as obvious as Marshall's surprisingly disappointing 7-6 record. And nobody is more aware -- not to mention, more upset -- than Herrion.

"Been a while since we've been beat by 28," said Herrion, referring to Marshall's embarrassing 82-54 loss to Kentucky in Rupp Arena on Dec. 22. "Obviously a lousy way for us to go into the break. But we will come out of it and bounce back."

Two-a-day practices will help see to that.

"We'll have three straight days of double practices," said Herrion. "They will be on Dec. 28-29-30."

The squeamish or easily offended are advised not to attend. It will be part boot camp and part gulag.

And it needs to be.

The stumbling, bumbling 7-6 record certainly indicates that. This team with all those high expectations already has lost any chance of an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. The only way Marshall can reach post-season -- NCAA or NIT -- is to fix its glaring problems.

Again, welcome to "Herrion's House of Corrections." With a dash of "Tommy's Torture" heartily endorsed by Nigel Spikes.

"I hope Coach kills us over the break," said the senior center.

He will.

This team needs to be tougher physically and mentally, so there will be some hammer and tongs practices during "Camp Cam." But it also has some conceptual flaws on an offense that need tweaked, if not redesigned.

"Our offensive inefficiency is just destroying us," acknowledged Herrion, "because it is putting so much pressure on our defense each time down."

First of all, Marshall needs to settle on a primary point guard between Tamron Manning and Kelvin Amayo. That means leaving whoever the choice is at the point even when DeAndre Kane returns from his broken right hand, which could be soon.

Marshall needs to play Kane where he is most effective -- on the wing. Then, the Herd needs to bring shooting guard D.D. Scarver off the bench for an instant, game-changing, offensive spark.

That would allow Scarver to do what he does best. Namely, catch and shoot. When Scarver is in the game, Kane could swing to the point or the Herd could play a three-guard set like last season.

These potential moves are prime examples of what needs to occur during the next six days.

Hello, "Camp Cam."

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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