Marshall basketball: Canty takes blame for Morehead loss
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall men's basketball point guard Kareem Canty doesn't need outsiders to critique his performance in the Thundering Herd's loss at Morehead State on Sunday. He does a thorough job of it himself.
"I lost that game," he said earlier this week. "Good guards should never let a team come back from 20 points down. I've got to protect the ball more. That's all. I take full responsibility for that."
While there are 19 points and nine assists by his name on the Morehead State score sheet, Canty has his eyes on the nine turnovers, mistakes he doesn't want to happen again when the Herd (2-1) hosts Stephen F. Austin at 7 tonight.
Canty had eight turnovers in the Herd's exhibition win over Concord, but settled down in the team's first two regular season games to record 16 assists against just six turnovers. Those mistakes cropped up again, though, against Morehead, where the Herd held as much as a 21-point lead before losing it in a cloud of turnovers and personal fouls during a 102-94 overtime loss.
There's plenty to be happy with in Canty's game. His 17.3 points per game is 11th best in Conference USA, while his 8.33 assists per game leads the league and is fifth in the nation. But his 15 turnovers also are the most in C-USA, and that's the statistic that eats at him. Canty admits that, in his self-criticism, he has to do a better job of balancing looking at the good and the bad.
"That's something I work on every day, to try and not get down on myself and not be too proud of myself," he said. "I'm my biggest critic. I always talk to Coach (Tom Herrion) and he keeps it 50-50 because he knows how down I get on myself."
Herrion understands that, even though Canty is a freshman, he has lofty goals for himself and the team. And as the Herd's floor general, he wants to steer away from as many mistakes as possible.
"He wants to be a leader and he embraces the responsibility of that," Herrion said. "He also has to understand what we teach through, showing him the good things he did, not just the negative things he did and the rest of us did that contributed to the loss."
Still, Herrion appreciates that Canty will cast a critical eye at himself when he struggles. It's evidence that the young player isn't satisfied with the status quo.
"If he's not hard on himself, he's not going to be as good as he can be," Herrion said. "The best thing is to be honest with him. He did a lot of really good things against Morehead. And he played too many minutes against Morehead. Let's get that straight. Some of the stuff he did late was so uncharacteristic, but a lot of it had to do with fatigue."
Stephen F. Austin won't make it easy on the Herd after Sunday's Morehead loss. The Lumberjacks enter the game at 2-1 after finishing last season at 27-5 and winning the regular-season Southland Conference title.
Stephen F. Austin lost the Southland Tournament title game, then fell in the first round of the NIT to Stanford.
Brad Underwood is in his first season as the Lumberjacks' head coach after spending the last two seasons as associate head coach under Frank Martin, first at Kansas State and then at South Carolina. Underwood replaced Danny Kaspar, who left to become head coach at Texas State. The Lumberjacks lost three starters from last year, including their top two scorers.
Three Stephen F. Austin players score in double figures this year - senior guard Desmond Haymon (14.0 ppg), senior guard Deshaunt Walker (13.3 ppg) and junior forward Jacob Parker (12.3 ppg).
"They've been really, really impressive on tape," Herrion said. "Because I think the program has a tradition of success, the guys who are stepping up have been in the system, maybe as more role players, but a lot of their kids are older and they're accustomed to winning."
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.