Marshall basketball: Solution for Herd no closer after blowout
ATHENS, Ohio -- The Marshall men's basketball team found itself no closer to solving its problems in the aftermath of its 94-57 loss at Ohio. If anything, the Thundering Herd looked further away.
The turnovers, which plagued Marshall during its previous four games? The Herd committed 19 in the first half and 26 for the game against Ohio. The offensive struggles, a thorn in the Herd's side all season? No better versus the Bobcats, as Marshall shot 35.1 percent from the floor, 15.8 percent from 3-point range and 48.3 percent from the free throw line.
Saturday was Marshall's (7-8) last chance to right wrongs before it dove into its Conference USA schedule Wednesday against Tulsa. Now the Herd isn't just fixing its Xs and Os. It's trying to rebuild its confidence following a 37-point loss.
Marshall men's basketball Coach Tom Herrion doesn't have the cure for a bruised ego. His answer for the Thundering Herd's three-game losing streak is to get back to work.
"I'm not Dr. Phil," he said. "I've got to coach better and we've got to play better. We're in uncharted territory. I haven't had a team struggle like this. We've got to continue to pound the rock and pound the rock."
Senior forward Dennis Tinnon, who voiced his frustrations after the Herd's surprising home loss to Delaware State on Wednesday, had little different to say Saturday, after the Bobcats put the Herd behind by double digits less than five minutes into the game and led by as many as 33 in the first half.
"It sucks," he said. "It sucks losing. Nobody wants to lose. We've got to find some way to get up out of this hole we've dug for ourselves and pick it back up."
That's been the refrain following each of the last three losses - the Herd needing to rebound following a disappointing performance. Yet the song remained the same after each one. Marshall followed a pre-Christmas 28-point loss at Kentucky with a 17-point first half and a loss to a Delaware State team missing both its top shot blocker and only double-digit scorer.
And after vowing that such a performance couldn't happen again, the Herd stumbled its way to the worst loss in Herrion's career.
Once again, ball control was Marshall's biggest problem. In the four games before Saturday, the Herd had averaged nearly 18 turnovers. It matched that mark against the Bobcats with 1:43 left in the first half. Ohio scored 51 points off of Marshall turnovers for the game. In the last five games, Marshall has committed 97 turnovers. It's dished out only 49 assists.
"Not tough enough, not strong enough," Herrion said of Marshall's turnover problems against Ohio. "These kids have been playing a long time. Pass and catch is a simple phrase, but we did not execute it at any position or in any personnel package that we did today, and that's really discouraging ... really, really disappointing."
Not even the return of DeAndre Kane, gone with a broken right hand since Marshall's Dec. 8 win over Coppin State, could reverse the Herd's fortunes. Before his injury, Kane had averaged 8.5 assists per game, third best in the country. He took the court in Athens with a protective guard over his hand, which he admitted made it difficult to grasp the ball.
Kane scored six points in 20 minutes on 3-of-10 shooting. He recorded eight rebounds and two assists against four turnovers and fouled out with 7:46 left in the game.
The Herd must match the 9-7 Conference USA record it amassed in each of the last two seasons to finish the regular season above .500. Marshall has won more than nine games just once in their previous seven seasons in C-USA. Kane didn't shy away from the fact that his team was struggling. He said the cure will be to stop thinking too much and start making the plays they're capable of making.
"We've just got to play hard, play smart and play together, just keep going," he said. "We're not going to duck our heads. We know we've lost some games we felt we should have won, and this one up here was a tough one. But we'll keep fighting."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.