HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Coaches and players made their way to the Henderson Center press room after Thursday's basketball game.Each gave brief statements.But really there was only one question after North Texas took apart Marshall by 80-65 in a Conference USA game.How long will Tom Herrion last as MU's coach?
It's become a legitimate question to ask. All one had to do was witness the first half of Thursday's game to understand.In sum, Marshall was awful. It was ill prepared. It was undisciplined.North Texas, you must understand, isn't Arizona or Syracuse. The Mean Green has no standouts. Its leading scorer against MU, Jordan Williams, had 20 points on 5-of-13 shooting.UNT entered 9-7 overall and 0-2 in C-USA play. It had lost to Columbia and Idaho. Yet the Mean Green was almost giggling at Marshall at halftime.Heading into the game, one knew MU couldn't go out jacking 3-point shots without working the ball inside.Yet that's exactly what the Thundering Herd did. In the first half, MU hit just 3 of 15 from behind the arc. Overall, the hosts hit but 9 of 38 (23.7 percent). There were boos cascading from the 4,586 in attendance.The subject is the hosts, keep in mind. The ones supposedly familiar with the floor and arena.For MU, it was an embarrassment. There was little coaching or discipline evident. In the second half, Herrion ordered some ball screens for MU's Kareem Canty.And there ya go. That's about it, folks."Our spirits are down," said Marshall's Ryan Taylor. "We've been close in a lot of games, but we haven't won. Tonight I thought we'd come out with a lot of energy because [Austin] Loop got a scholarship this week."It didn't. And one has to start questioning whether the Herrion experiment should end.
It started with such promise. There were some fine recruits. There was the NIT berth. But take a look now.Herrion has an overall record of 62-52 while at Marshall. He has a lifetime coaching record of 142-95, including those old wins at the College of Charleston.Marshall is currently 6-12 and 0-3 in what is anything but a strong Conference USA. Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss are the only two teams receiving any Top 25 votes whatsoever.Also, this shaped up as a talented team. There was the promise of Canty. Elijah Pittman was the team's leading scorer who was summarily suspended. And should I even mention DeAndre Kane, who transferred to Iowa State and blossomed into a potential All-America player?Consider those guys together. Back Herrion if you wish on Pittman, but consider the potential of that group compared to what the coach put on display Thursday. How in the world could Herrion let Kane get away?Then there is the obvious discord on what's left. Our Doug Smock wrote of Canty's tweet the other day. The player posted a message saying, "I got a lot on my mind don't think I'll be returning next year" before backtracking and deleting it.
Has the team quit on Herrion? It sure looked that way Thursday night. The Herd was outrebounded. It had more turnovers than North Texas. It had fewer steals. It was beaten 16-5 in regard to fast-break points. In the paint, UNT outscored Marshall 44-23.The only two stats on the final box MU won: offensive rebounding and, ironically, free throw shooting.In sum, it was a Marshall mess. The highlight for the partisan fans in attendance was waving some glow sticks handed out beforehand.Now, the glow is coming from Herrion's hot seat. He has this season and two more on his current contract.The questions about his employment, however, are now legitimate.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.