IRVING, Texas -- The 2012 Marshall Thundering Herd basketball team had one of the largest, most athletic, front courts in Conference USA. Four members of that front court have transferred or graduated. How does a coach replace 6-foot-8 Jamir Hanner, 6-foot-8 Dennis Tinnon, 6-foot-9 Robert Goff, and 6-foot-10 Nigel Spikes?
First of all, the coach generally has answers for questions like that. Fourth year head coach Tom Herrion knows exactly the type of offense/defense he wants to run and the personnel necessary to get the desired results.
“We’ve got a lot of changeover to our roster from last year to this year,” said Herrion. “I think we’re quicker, more athletic, (and) more versatile than we’ve been. So, with the change, I feel really good about this club.”
Herrion’s Herd finished 13-19 overall last season, 6-10 in Conference USA. His overall record at Marshall is 56-45 which suggests that he and coaching staff understand what is needed to win in what will be an extremely competitive conference.
LEADER OF THE FLOCK
The player who Herrion is counting on to emerge as leader of the Herd is Elijah Pittman. The 6-goot-9-inch senior small forward and transfer from Lamar State College in Port Arthur, Texas, was the third leading scorer in C-USA with a 17.9 points per game average.
“He’s very athletic and can really shoot the basketball,” said Herrion. “We lose a lot of other guys either by subtraction or graduation. He (Pittman) would be the most significant returner that we have. But, we got a lot of new guys that are going to have a huge impact for us.”
Joining the Herd will be nine new additions, five guards and four forwards. Redshirt freshman Kareem Canty is a 6-foot-1-inch guard who was rated in the top-25 as a high school senior. Also in that group is sophomore guard Chris Thomas. He generated a No. 9 ranking on the junior college circuit from JucoRecruiting.com while at Chipola College in Marianna, Florida.
HERD BRAND OF BASKETBALL
Herrion began putting a plan in place to compete with a much stronger and more competitive C-USA once the announcement was made. Sheer numbers alone suggest that the conference will be extremely competitive. Add to that the bevy of Thursday and Sunday games along with a 16-team conference schedule, and it’s understood that a coach must know his conference foes from top to bottom.
“The teams that are coming in, I’ve watched a tape or two on each of them throughout the course of the offseason just to get a gauge and understanding of maybe the different styles of play, not necessarily an in-depth type of scouting report,” said Herrion. “But, you get a feel.”
Like the game of football has changed due to the emergence of the mobile quarterback, college basketball is going to take on a bit of a different face. It will be quicker, more up-tempo, with lots of guard play. Big front lines will still typify the game. However, teams with girth that can’t run might find themselves running in place, attempting to keep up with smaller and quicker players. Having that kind of player and plenty of depth could be two key winning ingredients for Marshall.
“Through our recruiting efforts, I think we’ve gotten a lot of good players,” said Herrion. “We’ve got 12 guys on scholarship. I think all 12 are guys that can help us win in this league. We’re going to play a little different than our first couple (of seasons). We’re going to play faster, create more tempo, create more possessions, and hopefully create a little easier offense from our defense. I think that’s an attribute that we can be good at (doing).”