Inside Marshall Sports

Morning after Southern Miss massacre

I am still speechless.

I am just not sure where to go after Marshall’s 102-46 massacre at the hands of Southern Mississippi. To steal a Tom Herrion line, “I didn’t see this coming.”

You should never see it coming. At this level, Marshall shouldn’t fall behind 47-7 against the Memphis Grizzlies, much less a Conference USA team. Never.

And here’s the flabbergasting item of the morning: Tulsa and East Carolina won Wednesday night. They’re a combined 7-4 in the conference. Remove their losses to Marshall and they’re 7-2.

Marshall didn’t just beat them, the Herd killed them at Cam Henderson Center. And then they hit the road and … this. I’m speechless.
If you read my Jan. 6 column, the one where I pegged the Herd eighth among C-USA’s 11 NCAA-abiding programs, you’ll remember that I questioned this team’s hunger, whether the players really (cliche alert) “wanted it.” That question stands, from here on out.

Shoot, I’m questioning their pride and their manhood, especially after home teams keep crushing the former and taking the latter.

But in this limited item, I’ll tackle a more tangible item: Holding onto the ball. The 31 turnovers conjures visions of a mismatch in West Virginia girls high school basketball (sorry ’bout that, ladies). That’s the crazy stat, even crazier than 13 of 33 from the foul line.

The Golden Eagles stole the ball 20 times, easily more than 13 MU baskets. That’s appalling.

Very fortunately, I don’t regularly travel with the team, so I wasn’t there in person. (Tim Doherty of the Hattiesburg American was.) From Steve Cotton’s always-spot-on call, I got the picture that the Eagles just collapsed on certain players and just took the ball. Knowing Kane, he pressed after a bad early start. Among his 11 turnovers were three charging fouls and two where he lost the ball after rebounds.

Dennis Tinnon had seven turnovers. He has been disappointing in his ballhandling at the “3,” and it makes you wonder if he and Elijah Pittman shouldn’t trade places. But Pittman has had his problems with the ball.

So has everybody, at all positions. That’s a very disturbing trend of the Herrion regime.

Looking ahead to Saturday, another scary tidbit: Memphis is second in C-USA in steals per game, 10.0. (Is there any doubt who is No. 1? Southern Miss, of course, 12.4.) The Tigers are tied for second in turnover margin, plus-1.67. (Southern Miss is plus-4.15.)

(Just to dispel any myths, Southern Miss forced 36 turnovers on 27 steals in its December win over Dillard. That game was 135-41. Do not read that as an attempt at positive spin, please.)

It’s tempting to suggest the Herd either (a) get it across halfcourt and just chuck it, then hit the boards or (b) run the weave for 33 seconds and then chuck it, a la Delaware State.

In any event, 2 p.m. Saturday is a good time to duck. If, for some reason, you’re heading to FedExForum, just remember refuge is just a few steps away on Beale Street.

The good news: This team has 12 more chances, as far as the regular season goes. Or is that the bad news?