Chuck Landon: Farewell to MU's great expectations
Remember all those high expectations for Marshall's basketball team during preseason?
Remember such lofty predictions as the Herd finishing second only to Memphis in Conference USA?
Remember how this was the season Marshall finally would return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 26 years?
Well, all those expectations were predicated on one factor.
They were based on junior guard DeAndre Kane, who is the best player in C-USA that doesn't wear a Memphis uniform.
They were based on 6-foot-8 senior forward Dennis Tinnon, who won an appeal for one more year. After being one of only a handful of players who averaged a double-double last season, the successful appeal gave Tinnon a chance to make this a breakout year.
They were based on the experienced depth at center. There was 6-10 senior Nigel Spikes, who finally would be 100 percent healthy. There was 6-9 senior Rob Goff, a former junior college transfer who started 33 games in 2011-2012. And there was 7-2 junior Yous Mbao, who played in 33 games a year ago.
All the optimism was created by Marshall's experience.
Oh, sure, the presence of such newcomers as phenom true freshman point guard Kareem Canty along with highly regarded junior college transfers Elijah Pittman and D.D. Scarver played a role in those expectations.
To be honest, those three boosted already high expectations over the top because of their obvious talent.
But, remember, Canty, Pittman and Scarver were merely intended to be complementary players, not the focus.
That brings us to Marshall's disappointing 6-5 record heading into a game against Savannah State at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Henderson Center.
Too many newcomers have had to become the focus. And that's a catalyst for a lack of success.
Just ask Tom Herrion.
"We have some young guys that have to adjust to playing a different role," Herrion said. "When you throw them to the wolves a little bit, they'll gain great experience."
But there's a caveat as we saw during a 72-56 loss to Cincinnati Saturday in Charleston.
"We had a lot of young guys playing against fourth- and fifth-year seniors on the Cincinnati team," pointed out Herrion.
Wondering where those high expectations went?
Look no further.
With Canty falling victim to NCAA academic eligibility issues, Kane suffering a broken right (shooting) hand, Tinnon struggling to fit into a two-guard offense instead of last season's three-guard lineup, Goff missing time with a concussion and Mbao suffering a potentially career-ending head injury, Marshall has had to depend too much on newcomers.
Two of the three leading scorers are Scarver at 15.3 points per game and Pittman, averaging 14.7 points. Although the 6-9 Pittman was expected to start at small forward, nobody anticipated him having to play 31.7 minutes per game. That's too many minutes.
As for Scarver, he was expected to supply instant offense off the bench with his outstanding catch-and-shoot ability from the 3-point line. Instead, he has started all 11 games and is averaging 26.6 minutes, which exposes his shaky ball-handling and poor defense.
Tinnon is playing too many minutes also, averaging 31.8.
That wasn't the intention this season. Only Kane was expected to log 30 minutes per game. But take a look at the Marshall-UC boxscore.
There was 18-year-old true freshman Tamron Manning with 30 minutes of playing time. And there was untested redshirt freshman DeVince Boykins with 14 minutes.
Those newcomers will play a lot of minutes tonight, as well.
That's the problem.
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.