If Tom Herrion had his druthers, on Sunday he would've been coaching for a spot in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen like Ohio's John Groce, or preparing for a second-round NIT game like Middle Tennessee State's Kermit Davis.
Instead, the Marshall men's basketball coach was grabbing a quick bite to eat in a Washington D.C., airport en route to the NJCAA tournament in Hutchinson, Kan. If you're unfamiliar, that is the Big Dance equivalent for junior colleges.
"We started spring break Friday," said Herrion, who finished his second season at 21-14 and is 43-26 in two seasons with the Thundering Herd. "This is as good of a time as any for me to get out (and evaluate).
"That said, I feel comfortable with where we're at right now."
Herrion, 44, is embarking upon his third spring/summer at Marshall, and the roster situation is much more stable this time around even with the uncertainty surrounding Dennis Tinnon's eligibility for next season.
If Tinnon is granted an additional year - and with no other known defections as of now - Tinnon and fellow big men Nigel Spikes and Robert Goff will be the team's three seniors in 2012-13.
There will be three juniors, too: leading scorer DeAndre Kane, center Yous Mbao and junior college import Elijah Pittman (he is not at the NJCAA tourney, by the way. His Lamar State team fell one game short of qualifying).
The rising sophomores are Jamir Hanner, J.P. Kambola and Chris Martin.
There also will be three new freshmen: Isaiah Williams, a sinewy 6-foot-7 perimeter player who sat out this past season as an academic non-qualifier; Kareem Canty, a 6-1 Brooklyn, N.Y., point guard; and Tamron Manning, a 6-4 guard who is a finalist for Kentucky's Mr. Basketball.
Don't forget about the highly touted DeVince Boykins, who held his own against departing seniors Damier Pitts and Shaquille Johnson in practices this year. He took a redshirt season and will help form a deep - albeit youthful - backcourt.
That is 13 scholarship players for 13 spots, again working under the assumption that there will be no defections.
That is hardly guaranteed. Last summer, we watched Johnny Thomas, Aundra Williams and Eladio Espinosa all depart with eligibility left.
Then there is Kelvin Amayo, a one-time Towson signee who failed to qualify there and re-routed to Huntington. He enrolled at Marshall in January as an academic non-qualifier and could be eligible by, at the earliest, the 2013 spring semester. He cannot practice with the team until then, so do not worry about factoring him into scholarship numbers.
So, 13 players for 13 spots with Tinnon's situation unresolved.
Don't be surprised if Herrion adds to a roster made up almost entirely of his recruits, with Spikes and Kane being the exceptions.
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