CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When he's on the court, freshman forward Ryan Taylor's value to the Marshall men's basketball team is obvious. He's the Thundering Herd's top low post scorer, its leading rebounder and has the skill to hit long jumpers as well.
His ability to remain on the court, however, remains a work in progress.
The latest issue came Saturday in Marshall's loss to Tulsa, the Herd's 11th in its last 13 games. With 9:52 remaining, Taylor was whistled for a foul under the Golden Hurricane basket, his fourth of the game. His displeasure over the call earned him a technical foul, fouling him out of the game.
That was the seventh time this season Taylor has fouled out. Only Vince Hunter of the University of Texas at El Paso and Siena's Lavon Long have fouled out more times this season, both sitting down in eight. Now add to that the three games Taylor has finished with four fouls.
Of the 17 games Taylor has played this season, he's been in foul trouble in 10 of them. So, among the other things he's learning in his first year of Division I college basketball, he's trying to figure out how to play physically without playing recklessly.
"It's difficult," he said. "At times, it can be frustrating with the way some refs call games. In the beginning of the season, there were a lot of touch fouls, but now they're letting us play. It's taken some time to get used to."
Some of Taylor's foul trouble could be a product of college basketball's emphasis this season on calling hand-check fouls. And, at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, he enjoys being physical. Marshall coach Tom Herrion doesn't want to eliminate that part of his game, but he does want to hone it.
"He's going to get fouls," Herrion said. "That's the nature he has. He likes contact and likes playing with other people around him. But he has to eliminate the silly ones. He got one 24 feet from the basket the other day for his first one."
Those are the fouls neither Taylor nor the rest of the Herd roster can afford. Injuries and other departures have left Marshall with a very shallow bench, especially among its bigger players. Elijah Pittman, suspended since December and likely to never return, hasn't played since Marshall's loss to Penn State. Yous Mbao, sidelined with a knee injury, hasn't played since the Herd's loss to Akron. J.P. Kambola, still dealing with an eligibility issue, hasn't played all season.
That robs Marshall of three of its four players standing 6-9 or taller, so active low post players are in short supply. So when Taylor has to sit after being whistled for a couple of quick fouls, it not only limits one of the Herd's most talented players, but it also makes a short rotation even shorter.