The Herd That roster for 2022 already has three players.
Captain Jon Elmore said he and his brother Ot plan to play again for the Marshall alumni team in The Basketball Tournament, which features squads of former college and professional players competing for a $1 million prize. Former Marshall player Stevie Browning said he will join former Thundering Herd teammates on the team.
“It’s hard,” Elmore said. “People don’t realize what goes into getting a TBT team together, especially when you’re trying to get a high-level team that can win it. You don’t hear about how much money is involved, the expenses. Guys have long overseas seasons.”
Herd That defeated Team DRC 85-76 in the first round on Saturday, then on Monday lost 74-71 to Team 23 when former Mississippi State standout Craig Sword hit a 3-pointer to clinch the win via the Elam Ending. Team 23 advances to play Best Virginia, made up of mostly former West Virginia University players, at 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Charleston Coliseum.
Jon Elmore said he’s not in a hurry to construct another roster, nor does he need to be.
“We’ll probably just relax for a little while,” he said. “A lot of guys are trying to get [professional] contracts, get things finalized overseas. We’ll be thinking about it, but it’s really hard to sign guys up 365 days in advance.”
Browning then chimed in: “You can sign me up right now.”
“Well, that’s one,” he said. “Ot will play, so we’ll have two.”
Ot Elmore missed most of Monday’s game because of a pinched nerve in his back.
“We appreciate everything he does — social media, helping get the team together, all of that,” Jon Elmore said of his brother.
A crowd favorite, Ot Elmore hit a basket early to delight the crowd. Official Ted Valentine ruled that Ot Elmore’s foot was on the 3-point line.
“That wasn’t a 3?” Ot Elmore asked Valentine. “That wasn’t a 3?”
The longtime official known for his playful banter pointed to the line and told him it was a 2-pointer.
“I want a review,” Ot Elmore said, with a laugh.
“Get out of here,” Valentine responded, with a chuckle of his own.
Often referred to at “TV Teddy” for his bubbly personality, Valentine conversed with players from both teams, as well as media members courtside. When players from Team 23 disputed a call, Valentine shot down their protests with a reference to his ejection of a coaching legend.
“I’ve called five techs in one game,” Valentine said. “I’ve thrown Bob Knight out. You’re talking to the wrong dude.”
The crowd for the TBT was big and loud, with more than 6,000 attending. Best Virginia played right after Herd That on Monday, beating D2 63-51. Fans of both teams hoped for a showdown of the former Thundering Herd and Mountaineer stars, and WVU fans even joined Marshall supporters in chanting, “Let’s go Herd” during the Herd That game.
Jon Elmore said he thinks the tournament should be a fixture in West Virginia.
“No question,” Elmore said. “This was amazing for the city of Charleston. It was amazing for the state and it was huge for the TBT. West Virginia is a big-time basketball state. Shout out to the fans. They came out. That’s the type of atmosphere you want if you’re a TBT director. You want the gym packed. You want the crowd going crazy. The Marshall fans, the Mountaineer fans came out.”