If you missed it, here is my game preview, in which I detail the path of Marshall and Tulsa’s programs since their epic triple-overtime game last March in the Conference USA quarterfinals. Here is the preview from the Tulsa World, one of the better papers in C-USA cities.
As always, follow me tonight @dougsmock for the usual courtside thoughts. If I see anyone comparable to Miss Alabama, I will speak up. Get off of Brent M.’s back.
While we await the hiring of a new defensive coordinator, a few thoughts …
(This afternoon, about 4:30 p.m., could be the time. In other words, as I begin my drive to Huntington for the basketball game.)
Had you asked me about a month ago, I would tell you to put tonight’s MU-Tulsa game in the Thundering Herd’s “W” column. Watching the Golden Hurricane play SMU on Sunday, I saw a young team struggle without three of its forwards, suffer a rash of turnovers, boot a 17-point lead and get saved by a couple of 3-pointers. Fortunately for that team, SMU was equally putrid in the first half.
Don’t get me wrong: Tonight’s game wouldn’t be a gimme under any circumstances, and it certainly isn’t now with MU’s many problems. (Marshall was a 4.5-point favorite as of Tuesday night, if you can believe it.)
The Herd should win on the boards, especially with Tulsa shorthanded on the front line. Rashad Smith, D’Andre Wright and Brandon Swannegan all are sidelined indefinitely with leg injuries. But beward: James Woodard and Scottie Haralson can come down and rebound — Haralson now plays the “4” at times, and he’s beefy if not tall. (He’s one of the few 3-point shooters who can double as bar bouncer.)
Haralson was 4 of 7 from 3-point range in the thriller in Memphis, and you may have seen what Pat Swilling Jr. did at SMU. This will test the Herd’s perimeter defense, for sure. On the subject of defense, watch how the Herd copes with James Woodard, a lefty point guard. (If you can sucker a left-handed point guard onto your team as a walk-on, do it. It will help your preparation.)
Offensively, the tangible issue is turnovers, at all positions. See how well Kane can use his still-healing right hand, because Tulsa’s going to push that issue. Ohio did a pretty good job of “sitting on his right hand.”
But really, the problem is this team’s psyche, confidence, what have you. The team’s mantra now is to wipe the slate clean, start at 0-0 at the beginning of conference play.
But is it really that easy?
As a final aside, saw Joe Lunardi’s latest tweeted “S Curve,” and he put Memphis 40th — not far above the “last in” line for at-large berths. As mentioned, not a great year for C-USA.
and it surely is not tonight, what with the Herd’s many, many problems.