Herd must sharpen shooting
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University men's basketball needs someone to make a shot. And another. And another.
It might become contagious and get the Thundering Herd out of a slump.
In the three games since making a season-best 51.6 percent of its shots in a Nov. 24 defeat of the Nevada Wolf Pack, the Herd's field goal mark is 35.3 percent.
And, it's not just missed jump shots and layups that concern head coach Tom Herrion.
Marshall is also making only 60.3 percent of its free throws, which ranks last in Conference USA.
"Our ineptitude of shooting the ball period has affected our games," Herrion said.
Herrion is hoping the lid comes off the basket Saturday when Coppin State (1-7) visits Marshall (5-4) for a 7 p.m. game in Cam Henderson Center.
Poor shooting finally caught up with the Herd this week.
Marshall made only 36.5 percent of its shots Wednesday and lost to West Virginia in the Capital Classic, 69-59. That shooting performance followed three-point wins over Morehead State and UNC Wilmington when the Thundering Herd shot 33.3 and 36.4 percent respectively.
The Herd got off to a good start against the Mountaineers, connecting on five of its first six field goal tries, but missed its next three and it didn't get better.
Herrion said Friday the only solution is to keep plugging away.
"Keep grinding," he said.
Point guard Dre Kane leads the team in scoring (15.7) and ranks fourth nationally with 8.2 assists per game, but is shooting 35.9 percent from the field and 46.9 percent on foul shots.
Elijah Pittman and D.D. Scarver, a forward and guard respectively, both average 14.2 points. Pittman is shooting well from the field (55.1) and at the foul line (84.4). Scarver has hit 38.6 percent (22 of 57) of his 3-point attempts and is an 86.7 percent free throw shooter.
Forward Dennis Tinnon's 45.0 field goal percentage includes going 0-for-4 from close range against WVU. He averages 11.0 points and 9.1 rebounds. Center Nigel Spikes, who made one of his three shots Wednesday night, averages 7.8 points and 9.0 rebounds.
"We were missing layups and stick-backs," Herrion said.
Marshall forward Rob Goff is suspended for Saturday's game because of his part in a late-game scuffle with WVU.
Coppin State is a historically black school in Baltimore that plays in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Head coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell has won more than 400 games in 27 seasons at his alma mater with four NCAA tournament appearances and two National Invitation Tournament berths.
Mitchell was tagged with his nickname as a youngster when a friend thought his deep, scratchy voice resembled the TV dog character "White Fang" on the "Soupy Sales Show" hosted by the late Sales, a former Marshall student who was raised in Huntington.
"Over the years, the 'White' was dropped for obvious reasons," Mitchell says.
His best season was 2007-08 when Coppin State upset South Carolina in the NCAA tournament and lost to Texas by one point.
This season's Eagles have lost at Southern Cal, Texas and No. 1 Indiana. Their lone win was against NCAA Division II Cheyney, 98-78.
Michael Murray, a 6-foot-5 junior forward, scored 27 and had 10 rebounds Tuesday in a loss to St. Joseph's (67-55). Murray has averages of 12.4 points and 10.9 rebounds.
Freshman guard Patrick Cole and senior guard Troy Franklin score 13.3 and 11.9 points respectively.
Coppin State plays fast offensively and puts up 3-point shots at an alarming rate of 26 attempts per game, Herrion said.
Defensively, the Eagles mix it up with man-to-man and zone.