Marshall basketball: Rebounds key for Herd against No. 11 Bearcats
HUNTINGTON - The Marshall men's basketball team's reputation - and results - as a rebounding unit will come in handy Saturday when the Thundering Herd plays No. 11 Cincinnati at the Charleston Civic Center.
When the Herd tips off against the Bearcats at 2 p.m. on CBS Sports Network, it will face one of the few teams in Division I more prolific on the glass than it is. Marshall (6-4) is 18th in the country at 42.4 rebounds per game. Cincinnati (9-0) is second at 46.8 rebounds per game.
The Bearcats are effective rebounders by committee. No player averages more than the 6.2 rebounds per game of junior swingman Sean Kilpatrick and junior forward Justin Jackson, but six players average at least 4.4 rebounds per game.
The Herd dominance on the glass comes from a 1-2 punch of a pair of top-50 rebounders. Senior forward Dennis Tinnon is 33rd nationally with 9.7 rebounds per game. Senior center Nigel Spikes is tied for 43rd with 9.2 rebounds per game.
"That gives us a big edge on people," Spikes said. "The other coaches have to look at the fact we have two top rebounders. They have to box us out and double-team us on the box-out.
"You can't really double-team both of us, because that leaves other guys open. It gives us that advantage."
Marshall is especially good at offensive rebounding, ranked 12th nationally at 15.9 per game. Marshall Coach Tom Herrion said that not only comes from having instinctual rebounders like Spikes and Tinnon, but it also comes from Marshall's good shot selection. They may not go in, Herrion said, but they allow players like Spikes and Tinnon to get into better position.
"Good shot selection leads to better shot percentage, but that also leads to outstanding offensive rebounding opportunities," he said. "When you have instinctive offensive rebounders, which we have more than a couple of, they know how to anticipate the shot and get to the right spots."
It's a different look for the Herd, as Tinnon handled the lion's share of rebounding duties last year. Past his 10.0 per game, guard DeAndre Kane was second with 5.4 per game. Spikes, who underwent patella tendon surgery in his left knee shortly before last season, pulled down just 4.8 rebounds per game.
Now that knee is healthy, and Spikes said that shows in what he can now do on the court.
"It's allowed me to really grab rebounds and really help out down low," Spikes said. "Last year, I couldn't do much. I couldn't do as much treatment as I wanted to. I did enough to play.
"This year, I got stronger and got my mind right and it's showing up. I'm able to help down low and do the things that Coach needed me to do."
Against the Bearcats, Marshall doesn't need to simply work the offensive glass. It needs to score when it comes down with the ball. The Herd may average 15.9 offensive rebounds, but they're averaging 13.1 second-chance points. They scored 12 total in their last two games, a loss to West Virginia and a comeback win versus Coppin State. Cincinnati doesn't just rebound. It scores as well. The Bearcats are fourth in Division I with 84.2 points per game.
Marshall should solidify its post game with senior forward Robert Goff's return. Conference USA suspended Goff one game after being ejected for a flagrant foul against WVU. Yet Tinnon and Spikes should continue as Marshall's dominant rebounders.
Tinnon repeatedly has said he wants to lead the nation in rebounding. He'll have a spirited race with Spikes for that honor, but that doesn't bother him.
"If he gets No. 1, I'll be happy for him and I'll take No. 2," Tinnon said. "If I'm No. 1, he can be No. 2. It's just something we both love to do. At the end of this year, we'd like to see our names at the top."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.