CINCINNATI -- Tom Herrion foresaw the early game struggles at UNC-Wilmington just like he can't help be see Cincinnati's 6-foot-9, 260-pound basketball behemoth Yancy Gates coming tonight.
In the first of a two road games in four days Tuesday, Herrion, Marshall's second-year coach, gathered players like DeAndre Kane and Damier Pitts in a Wilmington, N.C., hotel and warned them of what could happen in the opening minutes of the team's first road test of the season.
"I don't consider myself a prophet or anything, but I expected it to a certain extent," Herrion said. "I talked to them about having poise and composure. If you're up 10-2 - poise. If you're down 10-2 - poise."
Marshall, of course, found itself down 10-2 and then 12-3, but controlled the game from there to improve to 4-0 for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.
The Herd took an overnight bus ride back to Huntington, then bused to Cincinnati on Thanksgiving to prepare for its next test, this time against a Big East program.
Poise? That's one p-word that again applies to tonight's 7 o'clock matchup at Fifth Third Arena.
"We're going to have to be physical," Herrion said. "(Cincinnati Coach) Mick Cronin knows what he's doing. Toughness and discipline are standards for his program. He coached under Bob Huggins and Rick Pitino.
"They are going to be physical."
That is why Herrion loaded his schedule with three Big East opponents and this is the first of the three. The Bearcats are off to a 3-1 start after getting stunned by Presbyterian on its home floor last Saturday.
That may inject a sliver of optimism into some opponents, but the loss bounced Cincinnati from the rankings, put a dent in Marshall's RPI and will likely give the Herd an opponent still smarting from an unexpected defeat.
Herrion, however, is more concerned with his own club at this point in the season.
The Herd coach is satisfied with the team's defense through four games, but there are two "areas of concern" on offense.
"We've been solid defensively, but we're still turning it over too much and we aren't shooting it well," he said.