Herrion shifts focus to future
HUNTINGTON -- A new men's basketball postseason banner for National Invitation Tournament appearances dropped from the Cam Henderson Center rafters Friday night.
The new pennant with 2012 added to 1988, 1973, 1968 and 1967 was unfurled during Marshall University's opening night event, Thundering Herd Madness attended by 4,073 spectators.
Marshall head coach Tom Herrion immediately shifted to the future.
"It's time to add 2013 to the NCAA banner," Herrion said to the crowd.
The Herd's last NCAA tournament appearance was 1987.
Non-conference play is part of the NCAA tournament formula, and Marshall has the 10th-most difficult lineup of outside opponents according to an ESPN.com rating. Games against defending national champion Kentucky, Villanova, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Ohio, Nevada and South Dakota State will help, but that's not the only ingredient for an NCAA tournament team.
It also takes a good conference performance.
Marshall had a Rating Percentage Index of 43 last season when it finished with a 21-14 record, but went 9-7 in Conference USA before advancing to the league tournament finals where it lost at Memphis. Several teams with lower RPIs got in the NCAA tournament while Marshall was relegated to the NIT where it lost at Middle Tennessee State.
Herrion said a 9-7 conference record didn't get it done.
"We've got to do a better job in conference play," he said.
Marshall has been to the NCAA tournament five times, and four of them were as conference champions:
1956 -- Mid-American Conference champion
1972 -- Independent at-large selection.
1984 -- Southern Conference champion.
1985 -- Southern Conference champion.
1987 -- Southern Conference champion.
"We've got to give them a reason to choose us," senior forward Dennis Tinnon said Thursday at Marshall Media Day.
Memphis is everyone's pick to repeat as C-USA champion in its final season before joining the Big East Conference while Marshall is considered a strong contender. UCF is expected to be strong, but the Knights have NCAA sanctions preventing them from playing in the C-USA tournament where the winner gets an automatic NCAA tournament bid.
"Being picked high means you have a chance," Herrion said.