Marshall basketball: Newcomers progressing well for Herd
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Marshall junior guard DeAndre Kane knows a few things about succeeding as a newcomer in Conference USA.
The C-USA Freshman of the Year award on his mantle proves that.
As he watched this year's crew of new players at Tuesday's practice, he could tell they were off to a pretty good start.
"I think they're all coming along really well - in the weight room, on the court, off the court," he said. "They're really progressing. I think as the year goes on, they'll continue to grow and get better."
The Herd could use that in its quest for its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1987. Three starters return, as do several reserves, but Marshall's new players will compete for the minutes left open by last season's departures.
It's a heralded group. Kareem Canty was considered among the country's top 25 high school point guards by Rivals, Scout and ESPN, and the Harlem native chose Marshall over schools like Seton Hall, Florida State and Iowa State.
Tamron Manning, a guard from Georgetown, Ky., was a first-team all-state selection as a junior and senior at Scott County High and ESPN rated him the state's top recruit in 2012.
Canty and Manning, both freshmen, were at Tuesday's practice.
Two junior college transfers - NJCAA All-America guard D.D. Scarver and forward Elijah Pittman - were finishing up their time at their respective junior colleges and will arrive when classes start in Huntington next month.
The Herd also practiced two academic non-qualifiers - Anthony Livingston and Ryan Taylor - and freshman walk-on Austin Loop, a South Webster (Ohio) High product who was the state's Division IV Southeast District Player of the Year.
The newcomers weren't available for interviews Tuesday, but MU Coach Tom Herrion and their veteran teammates said they're progressing well.
Herrion said the young players have hit the ground running, mainly because it seems to be their nature.
"These young kids have a little more of a passion," he said. "They're hungrier and it seems like they'll invest a little more time. So that's exciting for us as a staff."
Herrion called Canty a "gym rat" who has been putting in a ton of extra work in his short time in Huntington.
"From what I've been hearing, he's been the guy spending as much time working on his game as anyone else," Herrion said. "He puts extra time in the gym at night time. Basketball's really important to him, as it is for a lot of guys, but his work ethic has really, really been impressive so far."
Kane said Manning has shown a great work ethic as well and is ready to take advice from older players.
"He's focused," Kane said. "I told him to get in the gym and shoot a little more, so he's been in the gym getting shots up at night. He's coming along."
Advice from players like Kane is important. They've been through the grueling schedule and the tough competition. And players like Kane, who found success almost immediately, can let the young players know what works and what doesn't.
"I know how the refs call the game and how defenders play you, how you have to play for the pick and roll or how you have to guard the pick and roll," Kane said. "I just emphasize that you have to be tough. You can't look for fouls and you just have to go all in."
Herrion said his newcomers would be wise to listen to the veterans.
"Kids nowadays come in and expect to try to play right away," he said. "We want these kids to compete at a high level. They've got a big challenge because we've got some talented older guys that are mature and that have been in the system.
"The young guys aren't going to back down. They're a good group, but I think the tone's been set by our leaders and our older guys."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.