HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall men's basketball Coach Tom Herrion said he has a "beginning five," rather than a "starting five." There's a difference.
The Thundering Herd takes the floor tonight at 7 p.m. for its regular-season opener versus South Carolina State, and there's a chance the five players to begin this game could look different from the group that opened Marshall's preseason game against Concord. That's not a case of Herrion being indecisive. He said it's an example of the depth the Herd has this season.
"I keep saying that one of the better qualities of this group is our depth and our balance," Herrion said. "I don't know if we drop a lot from one through 10 or 11.
"I think I have eight or nine guys that deserve to begin a game each day," he said.
Marshall's starting five against Concord even differed between the projected lineup in the game notes and the actual lineup on the court.
The game notes had sophomore Chris Thomas starting at guard, but it was DeVince Boykins who began the game. Not that it mattered much, as Boykins played 19 minutes and Thomas played 18.
Of the 12 players who entered the game against Concord, 10 of them played at least 15 minutes. While playing time might not be as equal later in the season, Herrion said that substitution strategy is one he'll use, considering the Herd's style of play this year. It's a smaller lineup from last season, which included post players like Nigel Spikes, Robert Goff and Dennis Tinnon. So Marshall is employing more of a pressure defense that can harass opponents, cause turnovers and lead to open-court and fast-break opportunities that allow Herd players to use their athleticism.
"We're playing differently, which is going to force us to rotate quicker, especially defensively," Herrion said. "I think it's going to take a while to feel comfortable.
"We're still trying to find our way from a personnel standpoint, in terms of combinations, rotations, guys that work well together. That's a challenge that's exciting for our staff. There's a science to some of that."