Chuck Landon: Marshall's struggles start with point guard
ATHENS, Ohio -- If a team has four point guards, it doesn't have one.
That's putting a basketball twist on an old football saying, but it's still true.
Whether it's a quarterback or a point guard, if a team is actually using more than one then it means it doesn't have any.
Which brings us to Marshall's humiliating 94-57 loss to nearby rival Ohio on Saturday before 6,971 fans here at The Convo.
Worse still, Marshall coach Tom Herrion actually changed point guards seven times.
The Herd tried four different players at that position during the first half, including (in order) Tamron Manning, DeAndre Kane, Kelvin Amayo and Chris Martin.
As the turnovers escalated from four consecutive possessions to eight in the first 12 possessions to an unholy 19 by halftime, Herrion began coaching like the sideline had turned into quick sand.
He clutched for any kind of hand hold, any kind of solution, any kind of quick fix.
There weren't any.
Manning is a true freshman, who simply isn't ready. Kane was playing with a broken right hand, after missing the four previous games, and isn't a true point guard. Amayo just became eligible, logging only 28 minutes in three games, and is trying to play his way into shape. And Martin isn't a true point guard.
So, what is the solution?
Well, it isn't changing point guards seven times in the first half.
If your eyebrows are raised, they should be.
That is a recipe for instability. And it showed. With 7:50 remaining in the first half, Ohio had connected on 16 of 18 field goal attempts (88.9 percent), including 5-for-7 on 3-pointers; had scored 20 points in the paint, including five dunks; had totaled 29 points off Marshall's 14 turnovers; and led, 39-14.
By halftime, Ohio had scored 39 points courtesy of Herd turnovers. That means Marshall beat itself, 39-24, during the first half.
In fact, the turnover situation was so game-changing, Ohio actually went 14-for-14 on two-point baskets in the first half. That's because 13 of the 14 were layups or dunks.
"You can't defend turnovers," said Kane succinctly.
That's why 51 of Ohio's 94 points came from Marshall's charitable donation of 26 turnovers.
What's worse, it's a trend. Marshall has committed 97 turnovers in its last five games (19.4 per game) and 158 in its last nine games (17.6).
Is it any wonder the Herd's record is 4-5 during that stretch?
"No team in the country has a defense for live-ball turnovers," said Herrion. "I'm upset with myself because I haven't been able to correct it. I'm the one who takes the blame.
"At the end of the day, some basketball players have to start making some basketball plays."
So, just exactly what is the answer to Marshall's turnover debacle?
"Take care of the ball," said Kane. "Be strong with the ball. If a guy gets into you, go past him. Simple. Just be strong with the ball. Don't throw a pass if the guy ain't there.
"If you get pressure and it's going to be five seconds (violation), call timeout. You've just got to make basketball plays. There are guys on the team that are thinking too much. They've got to start playing basketball."
And Marshall has to start playing one point guard.
When the Herd plays four, it doesn't have one.
That was obvious here Saturday.
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.