CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Marshall women's basketball team faces what could be its toughest game of the season tonight at the Charleston Civic Center, when the Thundering Herd plays West Virginia at 7 p.m. in the Capital Classic.
It's likely the highest-profile game the Herd (4-3) has on the horizon. The Mountaineers (4-2) enter tonight's contest falling just out of the Associated Press top 25, sitting at the top of the "also receiving votes" list. The game will be broadcast across three TV stations (WPBY, WNPB and WSWP).
Marshall Coach Matt Daniel knows how tough it will be. The first-year coach also reminds his team this game is part of a longer process, one that he feels will put the program on more solid footing.
"(Tonight) is a tall, tall order for us," he said. "But we've got bigger issues than that. We've got bigger issues than one game, whether it's West Virginia or West Virginia State."
The Herd remains on a search for consistency in this young season. The team has yet to win consecutive regular-season games and has gone 1-1 in its two tournaments - the A&M Classic in College Station, Texas, and the EKU Comfort Suites Tournament, in Richmond, Ky.
Daniel said he'll stack up his team's field-goal percentage (41.6 percent from the floor, 35.3 percent from 3-point range) with many teams. They do stack up in Conference USA, where the Herd is the third-best shooting team from the floor and second-best from 3-point range. Yet the team has made the fewest free throws (63) in the conference and is one of just two C-USA teams with a negative turnover margin (minus-3.7).
"When we execute, on both sides of the ball, we're all right," he said. "When we don't, we're not very good. That doesn't have anything to do with what anyone else is doing. That has to do with leaving the huddle and executing the play call. We have to continue to grow."
Redshirt junior guard Erica Woods said it's been a process, learning Daniel's new schemes and philosophies. She said the team understands the transformation won't come overnight.