HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The statistics, laid out side by side, don't look great. The Marshall men's basketball team is fourth among 16 Conference USA teams in 3-point shots taken. It's 15th in 3-point percentage.
Yet Thundering Herd coach Tom Herrion said those numbers alone shouldn't lead one to believe that Marshall relies too much on the 3.
"We've got much more balance in our shot selection and our shot distribution," he said. "We're not a consistent 3-point shooting team, so we can't rely on it too much. We've got guys who can make them. I don't think we're over-relying on them."
Herrion considers his team's shot selection to be improving, but not optimal, and something the Herd can improve on going into Thursday's final road game of the season at 7 p.m. at Old Dominion.
While Marshall (9-19, 3-10 C-USA) takes a lot of 3s - an average of 19.9 per game - it also makes more than most teams in the conference. The Herd's 6.11 made 3s per game is sixth among C-USA's 16. That averages out to a 30.7-percent success rate. It also happens that Marshall's scoring strengths come from slashers and jump-shooters like freshmen Kareem Canty and Ryan Taylor and sophomore Chris Thomas, rather than from traditional back-to-the-basket post players.
"We don't have that dominant low-post scorer," Herrion said, "so it's a delicate balance."
It's also something that isn't new with Herrion-coached Herd teams. Last season's Marshall squad averaged 20.2 3-point attempts, made 6.19 per game and shot 30.7 percent from 3, which was last in the then-12-team conference. Two seasons ago, when Marshall made the NIT, it was next to last in 3-point percentage (31.3 percent) and averaged 18.5 attempts and 5.8 makes a game.
Herrion said there are other factors that go into what makes a good 3-point attempt - when it's shot, whether it's open or contested, and whether the team has worked to find the best shot. Passing on a good shot because its farther away won't work, he said.
"We have to have guys take open shots," Herrion said. "You can't not shoot. Shots start to show ... I think its more important to grade whether it's a good shot or a bad shot. That does go in concert with what type of shooter you are, but our shot selection has improved immensely over the last couple of weeks."