HUNTINGTON — The final road trip of the season for Marshall’s men’s basketball program has gone through a gamut of changes this week.
In the end, there will be no trip at all.
One day after Marshall’s series with Rice in Houston was rescheduled due to winter weather, the series got scrapped altogether due to COVID-19 issues within the Owls’ program.
“You always want to play,” Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni said. “If there is a silver lining, we didn’t have to make that trip because it’s a hard trip from a travel standpoint.”
D’Antoni said he always wants to look at the positives of the situation.
Despite the disappointment of his team being forced into an off-week in the midst of a streak in which it won three straight and five of six games, D’Antoni said the trip to Houston and back is a difficult one to make.
On Wednesday evening, Marshall’s games for this weekend were rescheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.
Once the reschedule was finalized, the plan was for Marshall to practice early Friday before taking a bus to Cincinnati for a flight to Houston, which would’ve gotten the team to its hotel roughly 16 hours prior to needing to be at the arena for the first game of the series.
Following Saturday’s second game, the team would’ve also had to fly to Cincinnati and bus back to Huntington, which is a difficult scenario for any team — and one D’Antoni said many Conference USA teams deal with regularly.
“It’s not just an issue for us,” D’Antoni said. “That’s for everybody. It’s a league-wide issue.”
With the cancellation of the series, however, Marshall now enters a unique scenario that is a far cry from the early portion of its schedule.
The 2020-21 Conference USA season saw Marshall open with seven of its first eight contests on the road, but with Thursday’s cancellation, Marshall’s final six scheduled league games will be at home — barring any cancellations, of course.
Marshall returns to action Feb. 26-27 in Huntington for a pivotal series against North Texas, which faces Western Kentucky this weekend.
The Thundering Herd also will face Charlotte on March 5-6 in Huntington in the final regular season weekend.
The final scheduled time that Marshall will hit the road is for the 2021 Conference USA tournament, which is set for March 10-14 in Frisco, Texas.
D’Antoni said the scheduled influx of home games at the end of the league season can help his team build momentum prior to the Conference USA tournament.
“You’ve still got to win them,” D’Antoni said. “You have to win games every time you go out in conference play. We’ll be ready for it. We’ve had to go through a lot and every team has, but we’ll be ready. We’re working toward a good finish in the league.”
Marshall officials confirmed that there will be no non-conference games added on short notice following Thursday’s late cancellation.