Chuck Landon: MU's Kane grows into new role as point guard
DeAndre Kane can be as good as he wants to be at point guard.
I know it.
He knows it.
We had that conversation at the beginning of Marshall's basketball season after the star junior learned he would have to shift from shooting guard to the point. The move was necessary because the NCAA had ruled true freshman point guard Kareem Canty academically ineligible.
So, Kane moved.
Well, at least physically.
That was a different story.
Our conversation on that day in early November revealed as much. It began when I remarked that he would earn a paycheck playing basketball some day. Then, I asked if he realized which position he'd get paid to play.
"Point guard?" replied Kane tentatively.
I nodded and smiled.
Then, I told Kane the very best thing he did on a basketball court was pass the ball. Granted, he definitely possesses other attributes, but I insisted his vision and passing are his greatest talents.
"Yeah," Kane quickly replied, "but I can really score the ball."
His response spoke volumes. Kane still was a shooting guard playing the point. And it showed.
In his last three games before breaking a bone in his right hand, Kane averaged 12.7 points, 8.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 turnovers and 2.0 steals. His field goal shooting percentage was a miserable .250 (13-for-52), including a horrific .077 percentage (1-for-13) from 3-point range. And his foul-shooting was a disturbing 11 of 32 (.344).
Then, came a six-game hiatus while Kane wore a cast on his broken shooting hand. Sometime during that forced vacation it appears Kane had an epiphany.
And, again, it has shown.
Since Kane returned to Marshall's starting lineup at point guard three games ago, the Herd has posted two of its most impressive performances of the season -- a 79-61 thumping of Tulsa and a 77-56 dismantling of East Carolina.
Kane's play at point guard.
During those three games, he averaged 16.3 points, 6.7 assists, 3.0 turnovers and 2.7 steals. But the real litmus test is his shooting. In that three-game span, Kane is shooting .460 from the floor (17-for-37), .467 from 3-point range (7-for-15) and .471 from the foul line (7-for-15).
Now, the 6-foot-4 junior is playing like a true point guard, who can score.
"He has embraced his role," said Marshall coach Tom Herrion. "Now, he has been able to combine making some shots with his playmaking ability, which is that fine balance for a guard whether he's a point or a scorer.
"But he has been in complete control."
That wasn't the case in earlier games.
"At the start of the season Kane playing point guard is not what we had envisioned. ... not as much," said Herrion. "But he settled into it, then had the hand injury and, then, he came back.
"I think now he knows he's going to play predominantly there and he's embraced it. Obviously, he's excited."
And, now, the Herd fan base is excited because Marshall is playing exciting basketball.
The hope is that trend continues when Marshall plays Southern Miss at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Reed Green Coliseum at Hattiesburg, Miss.
"We're going to keep playing," said Kane. "We've got 13 games left and we plan on going 13-0. We're playing hard. Guys are getting into it now. We know for us to make any kind of run deep, we've got to get it right now."
The key is having a true point guard.
Marshall does now.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.