Herd faces Hall of Famer
HUNTINGTON -- Tamron Manning is one Marshall University men's basketball player who knows all about Larry Brown's coaching record.
Brown, 72, is the first-year head coach of the SMU Mustangs who visit Marshall for a 7 p.m., Wednesday, men's basketball game in Cam Henderson Center.
"It's crazy that we're playing against him," Manning said.
Brown is the only head coach who has won an NCAA championship (University of Kansas 1988) and an NBA championship (Detroit Pistons 2004).
His career record is 1,664-1,202 for 38 seasons in the NCAA, NBA, ABA and USA Basketball. His college record is 188-71 with NCAA tournament appearances in each of his seven previous seasons including trips to the Final Four in 1980 (UCLA), 1986 (Kansas) and 1988 (Kansas).
As a player, the former North Carolina Tar Heels point guard won an Olympic gold medal in the 1964 Tokyo Games. He was head coach of bronze medal-winning Team USA in the 2004 Athens Games.
He's also the only U.S. male to both play and coach in the Olympics.
Brown joined the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
"It's exciting," Manning said. "He's a Hall of Famer. That's exciting to play against a Hall of Famer. It's crazy to think who he's coached.
"He's on another level."
Brown, who is expected to lead SMU into the Big East Conference next season, is joined by Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) and Roy Williams (North Carolina) as active coaches enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said Brown's sustained level of success is remarkable.
"It's unmatched," Herrion said. "He's had great success at everywhere he's been. He's a great teacher of the game. That's what I think I respect the most about him."
SMU has lost three games in a row and comes in at 10-11 for the season and 1-5 in Conference USA with a league victory against Tulane. Marshall dropped its last two games on the road and begins a week with two home games at 9-11 overall and 2-3 in the conference.
The Mustangs are 0-8 all-time against the Thundering Herd.
Manning, a freshman guard from Georgetown, Ky., said he's learned early in his career about the difference between games on the road and at home.
"A huge difference," he said. "It really means a lot to be at home. The whole atmosphere is just different."
Brown replaced Matt Doherty, who was fired following a loss to Marshall at the C-USA tournament in Memphis.
Doherty used a slow-tempo, Princeton style of offense. The Mustangs coached by Brown still try to control the tempo by running the shot clock, but aren't quite as slow anymore.
The Herd needs to be patient defensively and make stops to get its offense going in transition, Herrion said.
SMU sophomore Jalen Jones, a 6-foot-7 guard, averages 14.9 points and 8.1 rebounds. Junior point guard Nick Russell, a 6-4 transfer from Kansas State who sat out last season, scores 13.7 per game while 6-4 sophomore Ryan Manuel adds 11.8.
The Mustangs are led inside by 6-7 junior Shawn Williams (7.7 points, 5.2 rebounds) and 6-10 sophomore Cannen Cunningham (8.9 points, 5.7 rebounds).
Brown's starting five all play for more than 30 minutes a game.
SMU is the best free throw shooting team in the conference at 76.2 percent, led by Manuel (80.1), Jones (78.1) and Russell (72.4).
Marshall has four players in the league's top 30 scorers -- junior guard Dre Kane (15.0), 6-9 junior forward Elijah Pittman (14.5), junior wing guard D.D. Scarver (13.7) and 6-8 senior forward Dennis Tinnon (10.4). Nigel Spikes, a 6-10 senior center, averages 5.5 points and 8.0 rebounds.
Kane is ranked 11th in the nation with 7.1 assists per game. Tinnon is 50th in rebounding with 8.8 a game.
Among C-USA players only Russell of the Mustangs (36.1) gets more minutes per game than Kane (35.9).
The Herd ranks last in C-USA free throw shooting (57.1 percent) and first in turnovers a game with 16.3.