Marshall basketball: Herd without five players in exhibition win over Bluefield (Va.) College
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- The Marshall University men's basketball team's 94-67 exhibition win over Bluefield (Va.) College was noteworthy for who didn't suit up for the Thundering Herd.
Namely three of the five projected starters and the blue-chip freshman point guard.
Marshall was without five players overall Thursday night, but it didn't slow the Herd down against the Rams. Elijah Pittman led Marshall with 23 points and 13 rebounds and Dennis Tinnon and D.D. Scarver each added 18 points.
"Next man up," Marshall Coach Tom Herrion said. "You'll find we will play without guys through the course of the year for different reasons. We don't blink. We don't flinch. Next man up, no matter who it is."
The Herd missed redshirt freshman guard DeVince Boykins and senior forward Robert Goff due to injury. Goff has been recovering from a May surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee. Herrion said something "flared up" with Goff, but if Thursday was a regular season game, he would have played. Boykins may still be a couple weeks out from returning from his unspecified injury.
Junior guard DeAndre Kane, the team's leading scorer last year and a preseason all-Conference USA first team pick, and senior center Nigel Spikes didn't play due to a coach's decision.
"With those two, as long as (Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick) says I'm still the head coach, I'll decide when they play."
Freshman point guard Kareem Canty, rated the nation's No. 25 high school point guard by Rivals.com, missed the game as Marshall and the NCAA worked through an initial eligibility issue. Canty attended two schools last year, starting at Westwind Prep in Phoenix, Ariz., before transferring after Christmas to Faith Baptist Christian in Brandon, Fla.
He also played for Bridgton Academy in Maine and Bishop Loughlin Memorial High in Brooklyn.
Herrion declined comment on Canty's situation citing student privacy laws, but said the school will continue to work with the NCAA.
Marshall's juggled lineup struggled a bit at first. At one point, the NAIA program led 18-17 on an Andrew Wilson layup with 9:29 left in the first period. That seemed to light a fire under the Herd, which went on a 15-0 run and never looked back.
The Herd destroyed Bluefield on the glass, outrebounding the smaller Rams 69-25 overall and 28-4 on the offensive side. Both Herrion and the players admitted they still need to work on transition defense before they host Longwood on Nov. 9 in the regular-season opener.
But Herrion lauded the team's effort, which showed in the rebounding numbers, and the players said the absence of five teammates allowed some newcomers some extra time, especially junior college transfers Scarver and Pittman and true freshman Tamron Manning.
Before the five players' absences were announced, Pittman, Scarver and junior center Yous Mbao all were scheduled to come off the bench. They replaced Kane, Goff and Spikes in the starting lineup.
"It builds confidence for the middle and the end of the season," Pittman said. "When those guys do come back, they know what they can do."
Kearsten Marion led Bluefield with 18 points, while Wilson added 16.
Marshall's women's team played before the men's game, beating Concord 84-71.
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.