Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Herd Hoops, Beer Sales, Officiating and Whoopi

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Herd Hoops, Beer Sales, Officiating and Whoopi

Article excerpt

HUNTINGTON - There are a few certainties with modern-day Marshall basketball. The ball is going to whip around so fast it will make you dizzy. And the 3-pointers are going up - after Saturday's games, the Herd has attempted at least 152 more than other Conference USA team. And good inside games will give the Thundering Herd trouble. Take the 7-2 Herd's two losses, to Charlotte and the gut-punch setback Saturday against Alabama-Birmingham.

At Charlotte, Joseph Ochebo struck for 24 points and 21 rebounds, eight on the offensive end. It could have been worse for the Herd - his 11-of-23 from the floor included six missed layups.

UAB provides double trouble with Chris Cokley and William Lee. They combined to shoot 12 of 21 and score 26 points. Cokley's baskets were assisted by capable point guard Nick Norton three times, Lee once.

Catch the pass, take one good pivot move, see the open layup and score. Another big man who has pestered the Herd was Adrian Diaz of Florida International (8 of 11, 16 points).

Marshall's best chance is to deny the entry pass, and the Herd has been successful at times. Ryan Taylor is tough enough but undersized at 6-foot-5, and James Kelly is not exactly a defensive specialist at the "five. Both men have to stay out of foul trouble, which can limit aggressiveness.

At the other end, I was not surprised that UAB had the best inside defense I've seen. The Blazers officially blocked only three shots (Lee was not credited with one), but altered or deterred several others. This too: The Herd did not convert an alley-oop basket, nor do I remember an attempt.

* Another issue: Will the Herd have enough in the tank to get through this month and into March?

The upcoming schedule is not kind, as the Herd makes the long trudge to Texas-El Paso and Texas-San Antonio this week. A visit to Western Kentucky comes the next week, the first of five straight rematch games.

The Herd plays only two home games in February, the 18th against Charlotte and the 20th against Old Dominion.

But there are positives. I think the Thursday-Saturday format works in the favor of a short-bench team, with five days between the two-in-three format. The Herd gets a full week before playing WKU on Feb. 13.

* When some team loses in a controversial ending, at least two annoying themes pop up.

First, there is "if you play better, you take the game out of the official's hands. Well nooooo joke, Sherlock!

The truth of the matter is this: Close games happen. The Herd was playing a deep, talented bunch of Blazers, and played well enough for a chance to win.

Second and much more offensive is the "you have to officiate differently at the end of the game crowd. Or the "let the players decide the game crowd.

Oh, puh-leeeeeeeze.

That is the second-worst philosophy in all of sports, only "behind rooting for your team to lose so as to get the coach fired. …

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