Don’t be misled by Marshall University’s road record.
And since I’m already making suggestions, here’s another one.
Fans shouldn’t wring their collective hands and agonize over the Thundering Herd’s upcoming two-game road trip, which begins with a 7:30 p.m. game at Middle Tennessee on Thursday and ends with a 3 p.m. contest at UAB on Saturday.
Although Marshall’s 7-8 overall record includes a 1-4 mark in road games, the fact of the matter is the Herd has played some of its very best basketball this season on the road.
- Marshall lost, 74-64, at Notre Dame (10-4), but the Herd went on a 10-0 run with 10 minutes remaining to cut the score to 49-46.
- MU lost, 73-67, at Florida (10-4), but the Herd’s 9-0 run late in the game cut the Gators’ lead to 69-67 with 42 seconds left.
- The Herd lost, 82-72, at Toledo (8-7), but the game was much closer than the 96-70 drubbing the Rockets gave MU in early November at the Cam Henderson Center. Besides, the Herd’s 9-0 run cut Toledo’s lead to 59-56 with just over eight minutes remaining in the second game.
- Marshall lost at Northern Iowa (13-2), but trailed by only six points with 40 seconds left.
Were they defeats? Yes. But were they a lot more impressive than the ignominious losses at home to Toledo (96-70), College of Charleston (76-66) and Akron (85-73)? Again, yes.
The point is this.
Despite the misleading record, this Thundering Herd is a much better road team than the 2018-19 squad.
There’s one compelling reason for that.
“Most of the time when you travel away, it’s the offense that struggles,” said Marshall veteran coach Danny D’Antoni. “You are in a different shooting environment with different looks.
“But your defense is kind of the same. The floor is the same. The biggest thing is just getting ready to play. And we have the type of kids who come to play. So, the biggest effect would be on the offense. But our defense keeps it like a home court.
“So, it’s not as big of a disadvantage for us being away from home.”
Defense is more of a common denominator.
“It can be applied anywhere,” reasoned D’Antoni. “It’s just about getting ready for games.”
Offense, however, is a different species.
“That can change,” said D’Antoni. “The background is different. But since the defense has been our propeller, we play pretty well on the road. It’s not a big drastic change for us.”
That’s why Marshall fans shouldn’t panic over the 1-4 road record and the upcoming two-game road trip.
“Yeah, I agree,” said D’Antoni. “But I think we’ll play. It just depends on how well they (the opponents) shoot the ball.”
Marshall’s defense will have a say in that.
Perhaps a big say.
The Herd is holding opponents to a .399 shooting percentage overall, including .324 percent from 3-point range. MU also is limiting foes to only 71.9 points per game.
Then there are the two big individual defensive stats — steals and blocked shots. MU has 147 steals and 104 blocked shots in 15 games.
“We’re pretty tough to shoot on,” said D’Antoni with a smile. “We make it difficult. Watching the two teams we’re playing — Middle Tennessee and UAB — if we shoot decent, I think we’ll be OK.”
Feel better now?