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Herd has big step to take

Oct. 10, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University men's basketball has the ultimate goal this season of returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1987.

Last season's National Invitation Tournament appearance was a move in that direction, Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said Tuesday during the Conference USA Tipoff at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Marriott in Irving, Texas.

"We have to continue to appreciate the NIT," Herrion said. "That's not our ultimate goal, but it was a necessary step."

Marshall ended last season with a 21-14 record after tying for fifth place in C-USA at 9-7, advancing to the conference tournament championship game and losing an NIT first round game at Middle Tennessee State.

C-USA doesn't have an official preseason men's poll, but Marshall is generally expected to challenge defending champion Memphis at the top. Marshall junior guard Dre Kane and senior forward Dennis Tinnon were named to the preseason all-conference first team and second team respectively.

Herrion and Marshall women's head coach Matt Daniel, along with 22 other C-USA coaches, spent most of Tuesday doing interviews with Fox Sports, the C-USA Digital Network and CBS Sports. They also did an interview that was live streamed online at ConferenceUSA.com and will be available Wednesday for viewing.

Marshall fans can check out the men's team Friday at Thundering Herd Madness in Cam Henderson Center. The 8 p.m. event is the first official practice of the season.

Herd Madness is a Tip-Off Club fundraiser with all tickets $5. Marshall students can get in free by presenting a valid student ID. The student entrance is on the upper concourse level on the south side.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 800-THE-HERD or by going online to HerdZone.com.

Anyone with a ticket to Thundering Herd Madness gets free admission to Marshall playing Rice in volleyball at 5:30 p.m.

Daniel, who replaced Royce Chadwick this season as the women's coach, will introduce his squad at Friday's event. Marshall had a 16-14 record last season and tied for seventh place in the league at 7-9.

He's promising an entertaining style of play.

"We want to have a new energy for Marshall basketball," Daniel said.

The Marshall women's team was picked to finish last in the C-USA preseason coaches poll.

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