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Chuck Landon: Herd again transforms into horrible monstrosity

Jan. 31, 2013 @ 12:22 AM

Tom Herrion says Marshall's basketball program has lost its identity.

Well, I have found it.

Marshall is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Herd.

Let the FBI check MU's fingerprints. Swab a few gums for DNA testing. Draw a vial or two of blood.

I guarantee what all the results will reveal.

Marshall is a basketball team with a split-personality. Sometimes it shows up, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it wants to murder an opponent, sometimes it is benign. Sometimes it plays hard, sometimes it doesn't.

It is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Herd in every psychological sense of the novella. It couldn't be more obvious if author Robert Louis Stevenson were Marshall's coach instead of Herrion.

And here's the really, really frustrating part. Nobody ever knows which personality will trot onto the court for a game.

Why, I suspect Herrion himself seldom knows.

After all, how could anyone get a read on a team that has had more peaks and valleys than the Black Forest?

Just consider Marshall's last four games.

First, the Herd crushed East Carolina, 77-56. But four days later, Marshall gave no effort during a humiliating 102-46 loss at Southern Miss. Then, just when everybody was writing off this team, MU turned in its best performance of the season in a 73-72 defeat at Memphis.

So, how does Marshall build on what could have, should have and would have been a breakthrough performance for any other basketball team that could connect the ink blots in the Rorschach test?

By playing virtually no defense and not bothering to rebound while losing, 68-57, to SMU Wednesday night before 5,407 restless fans in the Henderson Center.

That's about as bi-polar as any basketball team could get.

And it showed during post-game interviews with DeAndre Kane, Dennis Tinnon and Herrion.

"Coach said at halftime, if we didn't pick it up we were going to lose the game," said Kane. "We lost the game."

Next, Tinnon took his turn at refusing to make excuses.

"We came out with a lot of energy, then it started fading," said the senior forward, who had 17 rebounds and eight points. "We stopped defending and they started getting open layups."

Then, Herrion put the finishing touches on post-game by finally admitting what everybody has been noticing.

"We just will not defend and rebound every night," he said with obvious frustration. "We've lost our identity. To consistently do that home, away and neutral (court) discourages me greatly.

"I am more discouraged about our defense than anything. And to get out-rebounded by six is unacceptable."

It's like this Marshall team has become one collective head case. Is there a shrink in the house?

Why, even the Hall of Fame coach himself, SMU's Larry Brown, hinted at Marshall's state of mind.

"I watched the Memphis game and I wondered what their mindset would be," said Brown. "It was a tough loss. That was a game they should have won."

Uh, Larry, no offense but so was this one.

SMU is an exceedingly average team at best, which has to play zone defense because it is so short on talent. The Mustangs also have to run a deliberate offense just in hopes of keeping the game close.

Yet, Marshall played so little defense, Brown commented, "This was probably the best we've played offensively all year."

Game. Set. Psychological evaluation.

Somebody call Dr. Phil.

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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