Yes, Marshall ended its four-game losing streak earlier this week, and that's a positive. But tonight's game at Cam Henderson Center will determine if the Thundering Herd truly is back on track.Arkansas State provides the opposition at 7 p.m., as MU returns to its Division I schedule after its 121-57 win Tuesday over Alice Lloyd. The RedWolves have played the Herd just once - 25 years ago in the Kentucky Invitational at that - but a few vaguely familiar faces will take the court.That starts with the team's leading scorer, with 16.9 points per game - 6-foot-10 Kirk Van Slyke. He is tied for the team lead in rebounding with 6-7, 256-pound senior Kendrick Washington.Both are transfers from Houston, where they played for coaches Tom Penders and James Dickey. Together, they played Marshall twice at Houston and once in the 2011 Conference USA tournament in El Paso, Texas, and Van Slyke played once in Huntington in February 2012.It wasn't a high moment - he had three fouls and two turnovers in four minutes in MU's 66-58 win.Two other transfers of note are 6-6, 168-pound guard Melvin Johnson, who is shooting a whopping 62.5 percent from 3-point range, and 6-4 guard Brandon Reed (8.3 points, 2.7 assists per game). Reed is an unusual case - he was the 2009-10 Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, transferred to Georgia Tech for two seasons and returned to Arkansas State as a graduate transfer. Johnson moved in from Texas-San Antonio.
And finally, there is a familiar face on the bench, coach John Brady. After his 11-year stint at Louisiana State ended in 2008, he went to Arkansas State, where he is 84-79. He has won two SBC West Division championships.This season, the RedWolves were picked third in the 10-team Sun Belt. Their 5-4 record isn't that impressive- close wins over Jackson State, Tennessee-Martin, Lamar; double-digit losses to Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and Toledo.Still, this is a game Marshall needs, and not just to pull even at 6-6. The Herd needs to win a game with some degree of difficulty."They're one of the most experienced teams in the country, on paper," Herrion said. "They have a lot of weapons, a very gifted team offensively. John Brady is a terrific coach. This is a really good team coming into our building."Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.