Marshall basketball: Kane makes most of opportunity
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Moving to point guard might have brought the best out of Marshall junior DeAndre Kane.
He became just the fourth Thundering Herd player, and the first since Tyler Wilkerson in 2010, to be named Conference USA player of the week after recording the fourth triple-double in Herd history in a 103-100 double-overtime loss to Hofstra on Saturday. He averaged 22 points, 5.7 rebounds and nine assists over three games of the 2K Sports Classic.
But the Herd (2-3) is still reeling after the weekend, when it dropped two of three Classic games. With 3-1 Nevada coming to the Henderson Center on Saturday at 7 p.m., Marshall is hoping Kane continues his hot streak.
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Pittsburgh native had one abbreviated stint at point guard, playing there the first semester of the 2010-11 season when normal starter Damier Pitts was academically ineligible. That didn't stop Kane from fitting in comfortably after the NCAA declared highly touted freshman Kareem Canty ineligible for the 2012-13 campaign.
"I'm not surprised at all," Kane said of his early success. "It's not that hard to bring the ball down the court and set up the offense and get my team involved. I'm great at that, so I think that's why Coach put me there."
Kane is a proven scorer, leading the team last year with 16.5 points per game and ranked fourth in C-USA this year at 18 points per game. Now he's gaining acclaim as a distributor. He's tops in the conference and fourth in Division I with 8.4 assists per game. The next closest C-USA competitors are the University of Central Florida's Isaiah Sykes and Memphis' Joe Jackson at five assists per game.
"I think that, with him playing the point, it helps his all-around game," senior forward Dennis Tinnon said. "Everyone knows he can score at will. He can get the ball and do whatever. He can create for himself. With him being at the '1' and being a bigger point guard, he can contribute a lot more, finding open guys, hitting the open shots and do a lot of things in defending the position also."
Marshall Coach Tom Herrion said the Herd lineup with Kane running the point remains a work in progress. The way Kane's playing, though, has made that work a little less strenuous.
"It's been a balance," Herrion said. "It's still a process for us to find a balance for him being a scorer, but also being a facilitator. His assist-to-turnover ratio is high. He's done a really good job of finding guys and he's logged a lot of minutes.
He has to get better, there's no doubt about it, but he's really risen to the challenge of playing at the point a little more than we initially thought."
That gives Herrion more time to solve the rest of Marshall's issues, which have contributed to the Herd's early stumbles. Marshall remains one of Division I's worst free-throw shooting teams, ranked 282nd and hitting just 62.9 percent from the line. But now the Herd has a surprising new issue - rebounding.
Marshall led Conference USA in rebounding margin last season, but is only sixth in the conference to start this season. The Herd has been out-rebounded twice this year, 37-23 against Villanova and 57-43 against Hofstra, a team that has no player on the roster taller than 6-foot-8. The Herd has seven players standing 6-8 or taller.
The team might need to lean even more on Kane, a preseason all-C-USA first team pick, but he's up to the challenge.
"I'm just out there playing, doing what I can do every day to give it my all," he said. "I'm doing whatever I can do to put my team in the best position to win every night. If that's playing the point, the '2' or the '3,' whatever it takes."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.