HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The Marshall men's basketball team won't patrol as much real estate from the floor of the Cam Henderson Center to its ceiling.
The distance from sideline to sideline and baseline to baseline, however, is a different story.
The Thundering Herd's new-look roster will bring with it a new-look defense. Marshall will use it to try to rebound from a disappointing 2012-13 and Marshall Coach Tom Herrion will try to return to his winning ways.
Herrion had not suffered a losing season as a head coach before the Herd's last campaign, never winning fewer than 17 games in one year and never winning fewer than 21 at Marshall. But injuries and other disappointments put the Herd on its heels before New Year's Day and sent it tumbling to a 13-19 finish, losing 10 of its last 14 games.
Much of that had to do with defense. The Herd finished last season ninth in the 12-team Conference USA in field goal percentage defense (44 percent) and last in 3-point field goal percentage defense (37 percent). It was 10th in steals (6.47 per game) and last in turnover margin (minus-2.62), and all that led to finishing next to last in scoring defense (72.7 points allowed per game).
A large chunk of that roster is gone. Forwards Dennis Tinnon and Robert Goff and center Nigel Spikes graduated. Guards DeAndre Kane, D.D. Scarver, Chris Martin and Kelvin Amayo and forward Jamir Hanner transferred. Those who have replaced them may not have the height of the 6-foot-10 Spikes or 6-9 Goff, but their athleticism allows them to cover more ground.
The Herd will be much more of a pressing team this season, Herrion said, though the press isn't just about forcing turnovers.
"One of the things with the press - and sometimes people equate the press to turnovers, and I talked about tempo and speed of the game - it's how we played from behind," Herrion said after the team's exhibition win over Concord. "We stayed and chased, we chased the ball so well from behind, and that makes people really uncomfortable. So there's a lot of ingredients to the press and some of the things were trying to do defensively."