Inside Marshall Sports

Live in San Diego with the Herd

Good afternoon (for most of you) fans!

This is a 10:30 a.m. contest here, which may be the earliest Marshall has played. Had the Thundering Herd made the Conference USA tournament finals in El Paso, those were 9:30 contests. I personally don’t mind it, and I don’t think either team will, either. Myself, I pushed myself to stay up to 11 last night.

Jay Bilas talked about this game at length last night, saying Wichita’s defense is not as sticky as it has been in recent years, and they have been vulnerable to being broken down on the dribble.

The Shockers are wearing warmup shirts that say, “Clock In.” I am not sure if it’s one of those garbage NCAA-inspired slogans like “Always Be Reppin'” or “Created by Culture.” Yuck. Marshall has regular shootaround shirts.

There is some Herd representation to my 4 o’clock (I am just past the baseline on the side). The pep band is here, and it appears it brought 20 or 25.

If you’re wondering why Marshall and WVU are here, here’s my best explanation: The site was set off Wichita, which at No. 4 is the highest seed in the four-team “pod.” Wichita is a tournament site, so the Shockers couldn’t play there, and somebody has to go out West — as you may now, the Pac-12 received only three bids.

As you may see this in this morning’s edition, I am most impressed by Wichita’s experience. Also, the Herd will be good/fortunate to hold Shaquille Morris to 20 pts/12 rebs. No secret formula for MU: play its game, hit shots and see what happens.


Dan D’Antoni’s Herd has made it to San Diego, as have I. Don’t get too envious of the weather, for we had showers here. I will be under the tent until 3 local, so I won’t be able to tell you if the sun sneaks out or not.

If you follow my Twitter feed, you saw my picture of a “Marijuana Delivered” billboard. Mitch Vingle, here as our WVU beat writer, saw a chap on the side of the street here on the San Diego State campus with a sign, “Cannabis, 21 and up.”

OK, enough weed. Basketball-wise, one thing that stands out after my first look at Wichita State is the experience. For instance, five players will be playing in their fourth NCAA tournament, including one who played at Kansas as a freshman.

Look for me to write on that, and to share what kind of questions Coach D’Antoni took from the non-Herd media. He was entertaining, as usual.

10:30 a.m. Pacific time tomorrow (Friday), the adventure begins. …

Conference USA rankings, 2/26

Peeking at Warren Nolan’s RPI rankings, Conference USA is 15th of the 32 conferences, which may be as high as you can possibly expect. The Mid-American Conference is 11th, which it never was when MU was in that league. In 16th? The Southern Conference, if you can believe it. Anyway, this will be my final rankings, at least in this format. See any resemblance to the league standings?

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Conference USA rankings, 2/20

Two weeks left in the season. Middle Tennessee probably won’t clinch the regular-season championship this week, but could be awfully close.

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Conference USA award candidates

I am honored to receive a vote for the Conference USA awards. Right now, I am merely listing all-conference candidates by team, and designating possible first-teamers. I will be voting for 5 each on a first-, second- and third team.

I have said my piece about Player of the Year in my column of Tuesday morning, February 20.

I have listed 18 for the 15 spots, but could consider a few more:

Marshall — Jon Elmore, C.J. Burks, Ajdin Penava

Western Kentucky — Justin Johnson, Darius Thompson

Old Dominion — B.J. Stith, Ahmad Caver

Middle Tennessee — Nick King, Giddy Potts

UTSA — Jhivvan Jackson

UAB — Chris Cokley

FIU — Brian Beard Jr.

FAU — Ronald Delph

La Tech — Jacobi Boykins

North Texas — Ryan Woolridge, Roosevelt Smart

Southern Miss — Tyree Griffin

Player of the Year
For players who stand out above and beyond, I am looking at Elmore, Burks, King. With 3 (MTSU) or 4 (MU) games left, I laid out my views on the topic in a Tuesday throwdown.

All-Freshman Team
I am decreeing that 3 of 5 of my votes will be traditional freshmen, i.e., having played in an “ordinary” high school in 2016-17. I feel such players should be rewarded as much as possible. (I did 4 of 5 last year.)

With that, I list all freshmen who take any spot on the stat rankings. “Traditional” freshman (including those from private schools in player’s area) marked with an *:

UTSA — Jhivvan Jackson* (prohibitive favorite for Freshman of Year; public school)

WKU — Taveion Hollingsworth* (public school)

UAB — Zack Bryant (attended Providence School, Jacksonville; hometown Hastings, Florida)

Rice — Malik Osborne (attended Don Bosco Prep, Indiana)

La Tech — Amorie Archibald* (Trinity Christian Academy, Deltona, Florida, from where he hails)

UTEP — Evan Gilyard* (native of Chicago, attended Simeon Career Academy in that city), Kobe Magee (public school)*, Trey Wade (2016-17 NQ)

Marshall — Jarrod West* (Notre Dame, Clarksburg), Jannson Williams (2016-17 redshirt)

Southern Miss — Ladavious Draine* (public school)

North Texas — Zachary Simmons* (public school)

Charlotte — Milos Supica (Serbia native, high school on North Carolina)






Conference USA basketball rankings — Feb. 13

AP photo

Few changes here, but I’m on the verge of proposing that Louisiana Tech and the U. of Ala. at Birm. be forced into the 8-vs-9 game, no matter how the standings come out. Both are brutal disappointments at this point.

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Conference USA basketball rankings — Feb. 6

Middle Tennessee forward Karl Gamble, left, attempts a shot while being defended by Miami guard Anthony Lawrence II (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Diamond Head Classic, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)

The Conference USA race (and later, postseason tournament) had been shaping up to be a bloodbath, but defending champion Middle Tennessee has started to rise above all.

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Conference USA basketball rankings — Jan. 30

Western Kentucky forward Dwight Coleby (22) celebrates after a dunk during an NCAA college basketball game against Marshall, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, in Bowling Green, Ky. (AP photo)

We have three teams breaking away from the peloton, and perhaps the regular-season winner can merit an NCAA at-large berth if needed. As you see, I’m still bullish on Western Kentucky as the Hilltoppers and Marshall make the long trek to the far side of Texas.

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Conference USA basketball rankings — January 23

AP photo

So Middle Tennessee gets exposed at Marshall, regroups and beats Western Kentucky at a full house, the same Hilltoppers who splattered Marshall in Huntington. Yeah, this exercise gets more convoluted with each week.

I can confidently slot the No. 5 team. Above and below that, the confidence level shrinks.

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Marshall defensive lineman Vinny Curry, center, fights for position on the scrimmage line against Southern Mississippi during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, in Huntington, W.Va. (AP Photo/Randy Snyder)
Marshall defensive lineman Vinny Curry, center, fights for position on the scrimmage line against Southern Mississippi during a game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, in Huntington, W.Va. (AP Photo/Randy Snyder)

When the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game this weekend, it will put the Eagles’ defender Vinny Curry and Vikings’ quarterback Case Keenum in the spotlight on the big stage.

It won’t, however, be the first time the two have met on national television. When they did so 10 years ago, it produced one of the most memorable games in Joan C. Edwards Stadium history.

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