HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — There were a few too many turnovers and a few too many missed free throws, certainly. Marshall coach Tom Herrion saw it all.But he also saw a lot of things he liked Monday night in the Thundering Herd's 94-60 exhibition win over Concord at Cam Henderson Center. Or, better put, he saw one very important item he really, really liked."We want to be the hardest-playing team in America," said Herrion, in his fourth season at MU. "We played really, really hard, I was pleased with that. We'll tighten up some things on both ends of the floor."I thought our depth . . . I think that's one of the attributes of this club is depth, balance. We've got firepower."
The Herd showed balanced firepower against the Mountain Lions of the Mountain East. Five players scored either 14 or 15 points — Kareem Canty and Shawn Smith 15, and Elijah Pittman, Ryan Taylor and Chris Thomas 14. Taylor added 10 rebounds.All in all, it was a good coming-out party for a lot of newcomers. Of the 12 who played, eight were either new to the program, a transfer who sat out a year, a 2012-13 nonqualifier or in the case of walk-on Austin Loop, just plain sat the bench all year.A ninth such player, Justin Edmonds, sat out Monday."First game putting on a uniform [for] Canty," Herrion said, ticking off a list. "First game, [Cheik] Sane. Half a year last year, [DeVince] Boykins. Pittman played. Taylor, first game. Shawn Smith, first game. Chris Thomas, first game. [Kevin] McNair, first game. [TyQuane] Goard hasn't played in two years. Manning played a little bit last year. Mbao's had a cup of coffee. [Austin] Loop, first game.
"I'm called the 'kindergarten cop.' I love my team."The start was shaky for the Herd, as Concord tied the game at 13 on a Grant Dickerson layup nine minutes into the first half. Taylor broke that tie with three straight baskets, and the lead stretched to 27-17 on a Kareem Canty dunk.The Mountain Lions trailed by single digits for the last time at 35-26, after a Cam Shannon 3-pointer. From there, the Herd went on a 9-0 run in the final 2:36, and started the second half with a 16-6 burst. The largest lead was 94-54 in the final minute, and Concord closed the game with two 3-pointers.The Herd shot 54.1 percent from the floor, outrebounded Concord 51-28, forced 12 steals and reeled off 18 fast-break points. Concord shot 36.5 percent and a dismal 7 of 17 from the line.Marshall didn't fare much better on free throws, recovering from a 2-of-7 start to finish 22 of 38 (57.9 percent). Nine first-half turnovers were too many, and the eight turnovers by Canty was way too many. (That was fueled by five misfired alley-oop passes, most aimed for Pittman.)"A couple of [the turnovers] were good passes that we kind of dropped," Herrion said. "It's not panic mode, but clearly he knows . . . No guard can be three [assists] and eight on the stat line. He'll correct that, he's been good with the ball all preseason."Ali Barnes led Concord with 15 points, followed by Grant Dickinson's 13.
BRIEFLY: Goard, a George Washington High graduate, had 10 rebounds as well, and Manning had nine points and a game-high four assists . . . The starting five, which Herrion simply called "the first five that went out," were Canty, Sane, Boykins, Pittman and Taylor. . . . JP Kambola also sat out the game out. . . . The announced attendance (the term is "tickets out") was 3,923.Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com
or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.