HUNTINGTON — If Marshall is to stop its four-game losing streak this weekend in its home game with Florida Atlantic, it will have to do so while short-handed.
Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni confirmed on Thursday that the team will be without multiple players, including starting point guard Andrew Taylor and starting center Goran Miladinovic due to “health issues” associated with COVID-19.
“We don’t know what it’s going to look like when we put the team out on the floor Saturday,” D’Antoni said. “Whatever it is, we have to be at our best.”
D’Antoni added that additional players could be out for this weekend’s game as well.
Forward Darius George, who has been in and out of the starting lineup this season, is also questionable due to illness, and reserve forward Aymeric Toussaint, who missed last week’s loss to Louisiana Tech, is also an unknown for this weekend.
Despite the COVID-19 issues, Marshall Athletic Director Jeff O’Malley confirmed that Saturday’s 7 p.m. game is still on as scheduled, barring any more issues.
O’Malley cited Conference USA’s rules regarding COVID-19, which state that teams are to play as long as they have seven available players — five of which must be scholarship.
If a team falls below either threshold, a game is subject to be postponed.
With two starters definitively out and two more unknowns, there will be increased minutes for several players, including forward Mikel Beyers, of whom D’Antoni had spoken last week about re-inserting him into the starting lineup.
Beyers said the team’s focus is on taking things one game at a time and snapping its current losing streak.
“No one game is more important than any other,” Beyers said. “We’re going to look at it one game at a time because we’ve been struggling offensively, but I feel like — especially in our home gym — we can get things rolling again.”
Marshall (7-7, 0-1 C-USA) will take on a Florida Atlantic team that is no stranger to COVID-19 issues.
The Owls had both of their games last week postponed due to COVID-19 issues within their program.
Just as the extent of Marshall’s issues are unknown, it is not known who will return for Florida Atlantic as the Owls make the trek to Huntington after enduring absences that forced the postponement of their first Conference USA games last weekend.
Florida Atlantic (7-6, 0-0 C-USA) has not played a game since a 55-52 loss at High Point on Dec. 21.
“They’re probably in a little bit better shape in that they probably went through theirs [quarantine] and now they’ve had some practice times with their players,” D’Antoni said. “They’ve come back and probably gotten a couple days to practice for us. Ours are going to be out.”
Taylor’s absence means that guards Kyle Braun and David Early will likely see increased minutes for the Herd this week to allow guard Taevion Kinsey to be on the wing.
On the defensive end for the Herd, Miladinovic’s absence is magnified by the fact that Florida Atlantic possesses a 7-foot-1 center in Texas Tech transfer Vladislav Goldin.