Inside Marshall Sports

New C-USA projection

Ready for Herd-UCF II and III?

1. UTEP 12-4
2. Memphis 11-5
3. Tulsa 10-6
4. Southern Miss 10-6
5. UAB 10-6
6. Marshall 9-7
7. SMU 8-8
8. Houston 7-9
9. ECU 6-10
10. Rice 5-11
11. UCF 5-11
12. Tulane 3-13

Projected C-USA standings before Feb. 16

First, I’m going to stick with my projection of Marshall finishing 6-2, after recovering against East Carolina … which means the Herd has exhausted half those losses. Now, I am flipping the Herd-Tulsa result, an interesting game I had going to the Golden Hurricane.

Speaking of Tulsa, two of my irrational picks of this week involved that team. I am projecting ECU to steal one out of the Reynolds Center and then Tulsa going to Dallas and taking it out on SMU. Other upset pick: Southern Miss dumping UTEP this Wednesday in Hattiesburg.

As I’ve said before, logic doesn’t always apply in a 40-minute game. Anyway, here goes:

1. Memphis 12-4
2. UTEP  12-4
3. UAB  10-6
4. Southern Miss 10-6
5. Marshall 9-7
6. Tulsa  9-7
7. Houston 8-8
8. SMU  7-9
9. ECU  6-10
10. Rice  5-11
11. UCF  5-11
12. Tulane 3-13

If the Herd pulls a 5 seed after a 3-6 start, that would be a really, really nice job.

’12 C-USA tournament

Looks to be heading back to Memphis, the Tigers’ AD says.

Conference USA non-league schedules

One of our faithful fans brought up the issue, and I was curious: How to nonconference schedules within C-USA measure up to that of Marshall?

As I compiled this list, I see four manly schedules here. See if you can name them.

The Herd
at WVU
at Ohio
Virginia Tech
at Louisville

Memphis
Mississippi State
at Arkansas State
Austin Peay
at Middle Tennessee

East Carolina
South Carolina (at Charlotte)
Virginia Tech
North Carolina
at Navy

Southern Miss
Louisiana Tech
Southeastern La.
at Virginia
at Navy

Central Florida
Charleston Southern
Boston College
at Fla. International
at BYU

UAB
at Florida
at Troy
Mississippi State
at Florida Atlantic

Houston
UCLA
at North Texas
at La. Tech
Georgia State

Tulsa
at Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
at Boise State
North Texas

Rice
at Texas
Purdue
at Baylor
at Northwestern

UTEP
Stony Brook
at New Mexico State
at South Florida
Colorado State

Tulane
Southeastern La.
at Duke
at Army
Syracuse
at Hawaii

SMU
at Texas A&M
Northwestern State
at TCU
Navy

2011 Football schedule is out

2011 MARSHALL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

• Sept. 3 at West Virginia
• Sept. 10 SOUTHERN MISS*
• Sept. 17 at Ohio
• Sept. 24 VIRGINIA TECH
• Oct. 1 at Louisville
• Oct. 8 at UCF*
• Oct. 15 RICE*
• Oct. 22 at Houston*
• Oct. 29 UAB*
• Nov. 12 at Tulsa*
• Nov. 19 at Memphis*
• Nov. 26 EAST CAROLINA*

Projected C-USA standings before Feb. 9

First, a mild correction to my game preview. UAB is indeed a half-game behind of first, not a full game. I made a quick glance at the C-USA site and the basketball home page hadn’t been fully update. But I should just memorize the standings and be done with it, right?

Anyway, I offer my first stab at projected C-USA final standings — “stab” being the operative term. I do not offer this as a basis for any cash wager.

Some conventions:
— I will take the Marshall-optimistic route and pick the Thundering Herd to go 6-2 the rest of the way. I think this team can do it and the schedule sets up for it. Look for MU to lose at UTEP on March 2 and boot one other game … not sure which, except it won’t be @Tulane.
— This will NOT be driven by the RPI. For this batch, I didn’t look at it.
— I’m leaning heavily on the home team, picking it 30 times out of 44 games.
— Upsets will happen, and some will be inexplicable. With that in mind, I will factor in a few irrational hunches. Most controversial: Memphis winning at UTEP on Feb. 26.

Here we go:
Memphis 12-4
UTEP 12-4
Tulsa 11-5
Southern Miss 10-6
Marshall 9-7
UAB 9-7
Houston 8-8
SMU 7-9
ECU 7-9
Rice 5-11
UCF 4-12
Tulane 3-13

Herd-Memphis, live

OK, I’ll spew more goodies during media timeouts, lasting until the end. Or maybe not …

We will have a big crowd if not a sellout. At 23:30, the GA’s are well-populated and that can only get more crowded.

Note: The school wasn’t behind the white-out promotion, and I bloody well don’t endorse it. If you can tell me the last time the Herd won in a white-out, football or basketball, drop me a line. It’s a recipe for an automatic “L”.

Baines… Shaq… Spikes… Pitts… Kane …. Only the deep corners open upstairs… maybe 8k, 8100.

Glow sticks, on the other hand, are damn cool.

HERD 6, MEMPHIS 4 at 15:49: Points will not be easy tonight…. good catch and shoot by Shaq… Both Spikes and Allen have a foul… I think Chevelle Buie hammed it up during the timeout, as students started cheering to the recruits.

HERD 13, MEMPHIS 12 AT 11:33: Kane hit 3 to rile up crowd, but Memphis answers with 6 in a row, including a very strange bucket by Will Barton. Fans wanted traveling, but I think he lost ball and then it bounced into his hands. Wild. Great pass from Kane to Aundra Williams (!) retakes the lead.

HERD 21, MEMPHIS 15 at 7:39: Fans are into it, and Memphis suffered a few turnovers because of it. Shaq and Pena buried 3s. Announcement about a potential whistle in stands (oh, boy).

HERD 28, MEMPHIS 17 AT 6:00: Shaq fires super pass on baseline to Spikes, who dunks. Pastner needs to regroup.

HERD 32, MEMPHIS 17 AT 4:46: Another turnover turned into a Kane dunk at the other end. This isn’t the Memphis team that beat the Herd 2 weeks ago!

HERD 36, MEMPHIS 20 AT 2:33: About an 18-5 run at this point, and Baines is becoming a beast inside again. A prime-time dunk on a Pitts miss, getting way above the cylinder.

HERD 39, MEMPHIS 27 at the half: The Tigers get a 7-1 run, including a 3-point play (awful foul by Higgins) and a 4-point play by D.J. Stephens (awful call by officials). In another bad call, D. Pitts get whistled on a scramble in the corner, but the Herd gets a great when Charles Carmouche clanks the 1-and-1 and Stephens mows over somebody for what could have been a successful tip-in. After a video review, the foul stands and Kane splits the FTs.

GREAT HALF … even on boards, 10 assists on 14 baskets, 17 POINTS OFF 9 MEMPHIS TURNOVERS.

Cause for nervousness: The break gives all those freshmen a chance to settle down. And the Herd has been drought-prone. Let’s see.

This is special: The guy who whistled (without a whistle), had a chat about it with the refs, over my right shoulder. The refs told him they don’t care … you can’t do it. And you can’t.

HERD 44, MEMPHIS 32 at 17:06: Crowd is 7,614 … stretch-out factor upstairs, I guess. Pitts gets lucky break on bad lob, throws it to Kane for 3.

HERD 47, MEMPHIS 35 AT 15:54: Pitts hits a 3 in a pure matter of making something out of a shaky possession. Then Orlando Allen rejects Will Barton at the other end. Herd ball.

Another thing: The Big Green forked over a check for $2.934 million to the athletic dept., which I am sure is a record.

HERD 55, MEMPHIS 39 AT 11:54: Aundra Williams has tapped two entry passes away and Dago Pena buried, a big, big, big, big 3. I must give it up for the Herd defense to this point!

HERD 62, MEMPHIS 57 at 7:48: Herrion needs timeout after Memphis scores 6 in a row, 4 on fastbreaks. Pitts has four fouls.

HERD 66, MEMPHIS 59 AT 6:47: Baines has stopped the bleeding, first with a 17-footer and then by getting open down low. Tigers at the line when we return … it’s white-knuckle time again.

HERD 76, MEMPHIS 62 AT 3:39: FOUR “and-ones” in a row! Shame two of them came with missed FTs, but what the heck. After making first 10 FTs, Tigers are 3-for-8. Oh, yeah, Pitts has *watched* all this!

HERD 80, MEMPHIS 64 AT 1:40: It’s over… and UCF lost. A great night to be a Herd fan.

HERD 84, MEMPHIS 64 AT 48.7: The walk-ons are in!

HERD 85, MEMPHIS 65 AT 35.2: No, really, the Herd has the walk-ons in against Memphis.

85-70 final score! Big win!

Memphis-UCF game, Big East

Time to take another long, long look at the Memphis Tigers, who started their 4-game win streak 2 weeks ago against the Herd. As you probably know, they let Central Florida have it Wednesday night.

Geoff Calkins further chimes in about the Tigers’ about-face. I found it even more interesting to see what Geoff wrote a day after the first Herd-Memphis game.

The game story from the Orlando Sentinel.

And speaking of the Sentinel, it is trying to write the Knights into the Big East. Mike Bianchi asks if South Florida is blocking UCF’s way into the Big East.

Ummmmm … I don’t think USF is throwing a roadblock, I am *assuming* it. Betcha USF officials were the biggest advocates of TCU getting the latest Big East invite. Betcha they want Houston along for the ride, if Villanova doesn’t roll the dice and ramp up football. Here’s another telling story, which almost puts me in UCF’s corner.

Frankly, I thought TCU’s invitation was a cold, hard slap in UCF’s face. I plead guilty to snickering.

MWC: We’re standing pat

Looks like a period of stability on C-USA’s western flank … until/unless the Big 12 wants to be 12 again.

From the AP:

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Mountain West Conference will not expand further to include either Utah State or Hawaii as a full member.

The conference board of directors on Tuesday issued a statement saying the configuration already established works best going forward. The announcement came at the conclusion of its annual meeting in Las Vegas, where topics included television contracts, membership and efforts to change the Bowl Championship Series structure.

The Mountain West will have eight members as of July, with BYU and Utah departing and Boise State joining current members TCU, New Mexico, UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State, Wyoming and Air Force. In July 2012, TCU departs and Fresno and Nevada join in all sports. Hawaii joins the MWC in football only, while its other teams will compete in the Big West.

Herd-ECU in-game blog

Haven’t done this since my aborted attempt at Louisville, but I’ve got a relaxed deadline and I shall spew thoughts at each timeout.

Once again, my Monday column will be my take on the 2006 football recruiting class, which just finished play.

Officials tonight are Brent Dugas, Tim Gattis and Jeff Smith. Dugas last worked Wednesday, Centenary at La.-Lafayette and has handled two C-USA league games — last one on Jan. 8, East Carolina at Memphis.

Gattis has a good C-USA history, but hasn’t done a league game. He did do back-to-back UCF games at its holiday tournament in late December. He last worked Thursday, North Florida at Kennesaw State.

Smith last worked Quinnipiac at Brown on Monday, so he’ll have fresh legs. He last saw a C-USA team Jan. 2, Texas-Pan Am at Tulane.

Big news in C-USA: Southern Miss booted another road game, 79-65 to SMU. Tulsa grinded out a win at Tulane. UTEP plays Houston and Memphis plays UAB, so the winners will be 4-1 and the losers will be 3-2. With Tulsa already 3-2, the ECU-Marshall winner jumps into the pack. … As you know, the Herd needs this one with @UAB, Memphis, @Houston and @Southern Miss on the horizon.

10 minutes before the national anthem, I’m seeing a little bump in the general admission seats, nothing major. But you do know the late-arriving nature of an MU crowd. … With 1:30 left, we’re starting to see some humanity! Hmmm…

Starters are as you expect: Shaq, Kane, Pitts, Spikes, Baines. Good video from the WVU game!

HERD 13, ECU 6 AT 15:51: Darrius Morrow has the FT for a 3-point play pending. ECU is playing zone, and Kane and Shaq have combined for three 3-point bombs. Crowd rooting for the FB recruits about now.

HED 23, ECU 13 AT 11:38: Morrow has 8 points inside, but nobody else is doing much. The Herd is rolling, as Kane just tossed in another 3-pointer. He has 9. The Herd is really, really cutting off the 3-point shot, as the Pirates have hit just one.

HERD 31, ECU 20 at 7:09: Carl Lee is getting honored with a standing ovation… Herd is teetering on a blowout, though Jontae Sherrod hit a really long 3-pointer to cut into a 14-point lead. Morrow on the line for 2 shots. … Herd hitting 12-of-19 from the floor, outrebounding ECU 10-5.

HERD 39, ECU 28 at 3:40: Morrow missed both out of that timeout, and the Herd is hitting highlight-film shots. Kane and Pitts buried 3-pointers, the last off an Orlando Allen rebound and dish back out. Kane has 12, Shaq 8, Pitts 7.

HERD 44, ECU 36 AT 1:26: Kane hits 12-footer to slow rally. Pirates aren’t going away as long as Sherrod hits long bombs, and he just hit 2 in a row.

HERD 50, ECU 38 at halftime: Dago Pena buries 2 bombs, the last from deep to beat the buzzer. He’s got 8, Shaq 8, Kane 15. For ECU, it’s Sherrod 14, Morrow 12, Young 6, Abrams 4 and that’s all, folks.

HERD 53, ECU 47 at 15:21: Herrion couldn’t wait for the first radio timeout to stem an awful start. Spikes and Allen have 3 fouls, as do ECU’s Morrow and Gaines. Robert Sampson and Sherrod have banged home 3-pointers, and the Herd still has yet to hit its first field goal of the half. Baines has 3 free throws, but that’s it.

HERD 53, ECU 47 AT 14:42: It gets no better as Pitts is way short on a 3, Allen clanks a jumper after the offensive rebound and Kane fouls. Yuck.

Attendance is 6,709, a season high by a fair margin.

HERD 57, ECU 54 AT 11:35: Pirates tie it on 3 Morrow baskets in a row, but Pena has broken the FG drought with a 3-bomb, his 3rd of the game. Baines just abused Corvonn Gaines on a drive, and the Pirates have the ball back with 25 on the shot clock. Herd looks perked up, finally.

HERD 63, ECU 54 AT 10:29: Pena has hit two more huge 3s.

HERD 65, ECU 56 at 8:54: Jeff Lebo takes another timeout as crowd breathes easier. Note: Sherrod’s last shot was changed from a 3-pointer to a 2 some time back.

HERD 70, ECU 61 AT 7:03: Brock Young has a foul shot after a spinaround bucket. That is answering two nice midrange jumpers by Baines, the last in transition. He has 14, Kane 15 and Pena 17. Morrow has 24 for ECU … oh, yeah, Allen has fouled out and Spikes and Aundra have four fouls each. Ouch.

HERD 75, ECU 68 AT 5:16: Huge tip-in by Baines off a missed FT, followed by Sherrod bomb. And now Williams has taken a seat with 5 fouls. Spikes is the last center standing.

HERD 75, ECU 70 AT 3:27: Getting tense again after two Morrow FTs. He has 28. Shaq had a big steal, but Pitts’ twirling layup just rolled off the rim. Pirates have ball with 13 left on the shot clock … timeout called on a near-turnover.

HERD 75, ECU 70 AT 3:17: Last radio timeout. ECU has ball with 3 on the shot clock after Spikes blocked Morrow inside. Fans though the ball never touched Spikes’ hand and therefore is Herd’s ball. Tense possession.

HERD 81, ECU 74 AT 1:42: Pitts just buried a 3 after ECU scored 4 straight points — 2 on a backcourt steal of Pitts. Baines had a 3-point play beforehand. Clutch plays all around.

… Very tardy last entry. I found it hard to digest the final 1:42. As you know, ECU 82, Herd 81. Wow.