Marshall basketball: Herd can't look past Savannah State
HUNTINGTON -- Savannah State's reputation doesn't reach the same level of the Kentuckys and Indianas of the college basketball world.
Yet Marshall isn't letting that fact color it's preparation for tonight's game.
Especially not after three-point home wins over Morehead State and UNC-Wilmington and a come-from-behind home win over Coppin State.
"We're not playing well enough, period, to look past anybody," Marshall Coach Tom Herrion said. "Even if we were, that's not how we operate. We have great respect for everybody we play. Savannah's our next challenge and we have to answer the bell."
With a trip to Rupp Arena looming this weekend, the Thundering Herd (6-5) will try to bounce back tonight from Saturday's 72-56 loss to No. 11 Cincinnati. It might be tougher than it looks on the surface. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
The Tigers (5-6) are on a three-game losing streak, but opponents are shooting just 38.7 percent from the floor against them. Marshall's had its issues in recent games with finding the hoop. The Herd is shooting 43.5 percent from the floor for the season, but just 39.4 percent in its last three games.
Herrion figures Savannah State won't be timid in guarding his team.
"They've got good size," he said. "They're really quick and guard really well. They change defenses. Defensively, their numbers are really good. We'll have to be ready for them to come after us. They'll get into us. They'll press at times. They'll get into zone. They'll change their defenses on us."
The Herd made just 8 of 22 shots in the first half against Cincinnati, and just 3 of 17 from inside the 3-point line. Even with Dennis Tinnon (6-foot-8), Robert Goff (6-9) and Nigel Spikes (6-10) in the post, close baskets have been hard to come by. The trio combined to make just 2 of 13 baskets against the Bearcats.
Tinnon said that, especially with two young guards - sophomore Chris Martin and freshman Tamron Manning - handling the point guard duties as junior DeAndre Kane recovers from a broken right hand, it's time the veterans to snap out of their funk.
"I know we keep saying its early, but we have to find some way to stop making the simple mistakes and feeling sorry and just go out there and play," Tinnon said.
Just as the Herd knows there will be no gimmes for them on their schedule - Marshall trailed for the first 30 minutes against Coppin State before taking its first lead - it also knows Savannah State is no stranger to hostile environments.
The Tigers already have played at UCF, Florida, Ohio State and Marquette.
Savannah State - which won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular season title last season and lost to Tennessee in the first round of last season's NIT - is led by forward Rashad Hassan. The 6-7 senior, named the MEAC preseason player of the year, averages 12.9 points per game.
Marshall had its hands full with one MEAC foe in Coppin State. Tinnon figured the Tigers won't be any different.
"They're not going to be afraid of coming in here," he said. "They're not nervous. They're not scared. They'll know what to expect. They're not going to give up. I know that for sure."
This game also should be the last before guard Kelvin Amayo joins the roster. Amayo, a 6-4, 200-pounder from Newark, N.J. came to Marshall in the spring 2012 semester as an academic non-qualifier. He originally signed with Towson State out of high school.
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.