MU's Kane uncertain after father's death
HUNTINGTON -- The Marshall men's basketball team departed Yeager Airport on Tuesday afternoon, bound for Orlando, Fla., for tonight's rivalry game at Central Florida.
Herd Coach Tom Herrion said his thoughts were centered on sophomore star DeAndre Kane, whose father, Calvin Kane, passed away early Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
Kane's status for tonight's game is uncertain.
"Basketball is a distant thought right now," Herrion said. "It takes a backseat. This happened very suddenly, very quickly. We aren't focused on anything with him playing-wise, but he has our full support right now."
Kane, Marshall's leading scorer, returned to his hometown of Pittsburgh to be by his father's side late Monday night. Kane arrived before his father died early Tuesday morning.
The 6-foot-4 Kane is second in Conference USA with 16.2 points per game. He also is second on the Herd in rebounds (5.7 per game) and first in steals (33).
Kane won a state championship at Pittsburgh's Schenley High in 2007, 29 years after his father accomplished the same feat.
Calvin Kane was Schenley's starting point guard in 1978 and scored 10 points in a 51-50 title game win over Lebanon, a team that featured future NBA top pick Sam Bowie.
Calvin Kane told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in March of 2007: "I don't talk to (Deandre) too much about me. Enough other people tell him about me. I try to keep everything focused on him right now."
DeAndre Kane told the Charleston Daily Mail in November of 2010 that his father motivated him to excel in academics and in basketball - in that order.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with DeAndre and his family during this difficult and trying time," Herrion said in a statement. "He will have the support our program as well as the entire Marshall family."
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TONIGHT'S 7 O'CLOCK tipoff will be Herrion's fourth game coaching in the UCF-Marshall rivalry. The home team has won the previous four matchups.
The Herd won 65-64 in Huntington on Jan. 14.
Last season the Knights won at UCF Arena, the site of tonight's game, 65-58 in the first meeting between UCF Coach Donnie Jones and his former program.
Marshall and UCF are vying for one of the four first-round Conference USA tournament byes.
The Knights are 17-6 overall and 6-3 in league play, one game ahead of the Herd (14-9, 5-4).
"UCF is playing really well right now and I'm sure their fans are going to be excited for this one," Herrion said. "It's going to be a great atmosphere.
"We're excited to play, too. I think this has developed into a very healthy rivalry and they play well at home."
UCF is 12-1 this season at UCF Arena, where the Knights are averaging 5,499 fans (7,220 in four league home games).
Two of the four largest crowds in the arena's five-year history have come with Marshall in town.
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MARSHALL HAS lost five of its last six games after opening the season 13-4.
Herrion said the Herd needs to combine facets of the game tonight.
"We're trying to be efficient in all areas," he said.
"It takes production at both ends and our defense and rebounding have been letting us down."
Marshall was not outrebounded in the first 17 games, but West Virginia, Memphis and Tulsa beat the Herd on the boards - all losses.
UAB, a home loss for the Herd, finished even in rebounds.
Marshall is outrebounding opponents by an average of 15 in its five Conference USA wins.
The slump in that category has coincided with Marshall's improvement in shooting and free throws. The Herd is 69-for-166 (41.6 percent) from the field and 55-for-75 (73.3 percent) on foul shots in the past three games.
"We need to put it all together," Herrion said.
Contact sportswriter Chuck McGill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.