HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - After a year of being relegated to spectator status, Ryan Taylor and Kareem Canty finally found out what life is like officially wearing a Marshall men's basketball uniform.
Both freshmen turned in solid performances in the Thundering Herd's season-opening win against South Carolina State, ones they hope to build upon when the team takes the Cam Henderson Center court again at 7 tonight versus the University of Rio Grande.
Taylor, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward, and Canty, a 6-1, 185-pound point guard, were well-regarded prep players, but were forced to sit last season as academic non-qualifiers. Taylor's status was known ahead of time, while Canty's status wasn't clear until two games into the 2012-13 season.
The end of that wait came as a relief for both, Taylor said.
"I was just happy to get back on the floor and play," Taylor said. "It's been a long time for me and Kareem. I just wanted to play with the team and play under (Marshall) Coach (Tom) Herrion's coaching. But once we got out there and tipped the ball, it was like a weight was lifted off our shoulders. I was just happy to be out there and I was excited to get the win."
Herrion didn't waste time giving both significant responsibilities. Taylor and Canty were in the starting lineup against the Bulldogs, with Canty playing 29 minutes and Taylor 22. Taylor scored a double-double in his first collegiate game, with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting and 10 rebounds.
That's the type of game Taylor said he wants to have every night.
"I like to go down there and rebound," Taylor said. "I like to be that glue player to get the garbage points and the garbage rebounds, to get down there and bang with them, even though I'm not of that height. I still go down there and just play."
Canty scored 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Along with senior Elijah Pittman, he was one of two Herd players to hit a 3-pointer, making two of five. He also dished out five assists against three turnovers.
That was a big turnaround from his exhibition performance against Concord, where he recorded just three assists against eight turnovers. Herrion said he told Canty after that game that kind of performance wouldn't work, that instead of swinging for home runs, doubles and triples would suffice.
Canty took the advice to heart.
"I made the simple plays instead of always making the highlight play," Canty said.