Inside Marshall Sports

B-squad Tom Bragg checking in. With Doug Smock in New Mexico covering Marshall’s New Mexico Bowl win against Colorado State, I was in Huntington on Saturday for Herd hoops.

An 8 p.m. tip combined with an overtime game and what some might consider a somewhat early print deadline meant my game story was a bit rushed. Here are some items and observations you won’t find in the print edition of the Sunday Gazette-Mail.

D’Antoni postgame

In my rush at deadline, I had to miss Dan D’Antoni’s postgame press conference. Fortunately for us, the fine folks at Marshall post the video to YouTube.

And for the sake of completeness, here is Marshall’s video of our interview with Jon Elmore and Ajdin Penava.

 

Penava goes off

Marshall's Ajdin Penava (11) throws down a dunk during an NCAA college basketball game against Ohio, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Huntington, W.Va. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)
Marshall’s Ajdin Penava (11) throws down a dunk during an NCAA college basketball game against Ohio, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Huntington, W.Va. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)

Danny wasn’t kidding. Penava’s stat line on Saturday against the Bobcats was bonkers. The junior from Bosina and Herzgovina shot 10 of 13 from the floor, 3 for 4 from distance, 10 of 11 at the foul line, grabbed 15 rebounds, scored 33 points and had nine blocks. And three steals! He was all over the place for the Herd and when he wasn’t on the floor Marshall could feel it. Elmore’s triple-double (more on that later) was great and C.J. Burks (more on him later also) played a fantastic game with 31 points, but Penava was the big difference maker against the Bobcats. Certainly his most complete game in a Marshall uniform (and if we’re being honest, one of the most complete games in MU basketball history).

Jon Elmore: still ballin’

Marshall's Jon Elmore (33) makes a behind the back pass to teammate Milan Mijovic (50) during an NCAA college basketball game against Ohio, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Huntington, W.Va. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)
Marshall’s Jon Elmore (33) makes a behind the back pass to teammate Milan Mijovic (50) during an NCAA college basketball game against Ohio, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Huntington, W.Va. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)

Jon Elmore was not Jon Elmore in the first half Saturday. At the break, the junior from Charleston was 2 of 7 shooting (both 3-pointers) and had not been to the foul line for a total of just six points. He said himself that he wasn’t quite on at times against Ohio.

Then in the second half, the Elmore we’re used to seeing showed up. His shooting numbers still were not great – finishing 4 of 12 and not making any 3-pointers in the second half – but he was able to get to the foul line (he finished 10 of 10 at the stripe after zero attempts in the first half). He grabbed 10 rebounds and tallied 10 assists to register, according to Marshall Sports Information after the game, the fifth triple-double in Herd hoops history.

Not bad for an off night.

If there was a glaring bad stat on Marshall’s ledger, it was Elmore’s team-high seven turnovers. Still, another all-time type performance from a Herd player Saturday.

Big game Burks

Marshall's C.J. Burks (14) drives the lane on Ohio's Mike Laster (24) during an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Huntington, W.Va. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)
Marshall’s C.J. Burks (14) drives the lane on Ohio’s Mike Laster (24) during an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Huntington, W.Va. (Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch via AP)

I have only seen a handful of live C.J. Burks games since his days on the Hedgesville state championship team, and I found myself thinking, “Damn, C.J. Burks is smooth.” on more than one occasion Saturday. The Martinsburg native was gunning against Ohio, taking a team-high 22 shots (connecting on 12 of them). Penava made a point of giving him a shoutout in his comments after the game, including this gem:

C.J. – can I just give credit to him? He lost a tooth and he still came back and played. His neck was hurting. His head was hurting. He may have a concussion. I don’t know. It seemed to me like it. I’m not a doctor though.

I can’t remember any major collisions between Burks and any Ohio players, teammates or the floor. For a guy that just dropped 31 points in an overtime win against a major rival, he was noticeably absent for the press conference after the game. It’s worth keeping an eye on him, especially when a teammate is telling the press he thinks he might have a concussion. Still, Burks just dropped 31 on Ohio minus a tooth! Yet, somehow as I was watching the game I got the feeling he was being overshadowed by Paneva and Elmore. That’s a good problem to have if you’re Dan D’Antoni.

 

 

Wild, fun game at the Cam on Saturday played at a pretty high level. Marshall is back at it Tuesday on the road against a really, really good Xavier team.