For this year’s bowls, it’s C-USA champion’s choice

July 24, 2014 by Derek Redd

C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky has confirmed what we had been hearing for a while, that the C-USA champion will get first pick among the conference’s bowls. Now, that’s if the conference champ isn’t the Group of Five pick for the College Football Playoff access bowls, as a few pundits have picked Marshall to be this season.

Now that C-USA’s relationship with the Liberty Bowl is over, the conference is giving the champ it’s choice. Here are the contenders:

Bahamas — vs. Mid-American on Dec. 24 in Nassau, Bahamas

Boca Raton — vs. Mid-American on Dec. 23 in Boca Raton, Fla.

New Mexico — vs. Mountain West on Dec. 20 in Albuquerque, N.M.

Heart of Dallas — vs. Big Ten on Dec. 26 in Dallas, Texas

Hawaii — vs. Mountain West on Dec. 24 in Honolulu, Hi.

The conference also has a secondary agreement with the Independence Bowl, which normally is an ACC-vs.-SEC matchup, on Dec. 27 in Shreveport, La. That means if one of those conferences doesn’t have enough bowl-eligible teams to supply that game, C-USA can step in.

So if you’re Marshall, you win the conference, but watch someone else get the Group of Five bid, where do you go? If you want the most recognizable opponent, Dallas is a no-brainer. If you’re more interested in making it a vacation for Herd fans, it’s either Boca or you’re headed to either the Atlantic or Pacific. The drawback with Boca and the Bahamas: Marshall likely would play its fourth MAC opponent of the season, which might not be that tantalizing of a game for some folks.

All right, Herd fans, if you’re the C-USA champ and those are your choices, which would you pick?

 

As Kareem Canty turns …

June 4, 2014 by Derek Redd

Ex-Marshall point guard Kareem Canty is changing landing spots … again.

After getting his scholarship release from Marshall, he visited Auburn, verbally committed to Auburn, rescinded that commitment the next morning, visited South Florida and Penn State and ultimately (we thought) verbally committed to USF.

Instead of “ultimately,” make that “penultimately.”

ESPN’s Joe Goodman tweeted last night that Canty no longer is headed to Tampa, but to Auburn, Ala.

So, instead of first-year USF head coach Orlando Antigua getting his point guard of the future, first-year Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl looks like he’s getting his.

But a word of advice to Pearl, who I’m sure follows this blog religiously (Hey, doesn’t everyone? Don’t they?) — I wrote a column back in April about Canty’s need to go silent during his transfer process. It included this line:

If, after he visits USF and decides he wants to be a Bull, should new coach Orlando Antigua reserve his full joy until Canty actually signs on the line which is dotted?

Apparently, he should have. So should Pearl.

 

Coming soon to a Marshall apparel store near you?

May 20, 2014 by Derek Redd

New Marshall men’s basketball coach Dan D’Antoni was sporting an interesting new shirt last week.

Take a gander at the slogan.

Take a gander at the slogan.

He’d been joking that his wardrobe is about the same as it was when he left Mullens — a couple shirts, a couple pairs of jeans and he was good — but the slogan, “Bring On the Herd,” holds a special meaning to him. He told the story during his introductory press conference. He and his Marshall team would sit quietly in the locker room at the Fieldhouse and teammate Bob Redd would crack open the locker room door to let the team feel the crowd’s energy. Then he’d swing it all the way open …

Then we would gather at the door, and you could look out and you could see the crowd (pumping their fists). Then, as we came out, you could hear the chant: “Bring on the Herd! Bring on the Herd!” And we would all come running out, and to me, that was the greatest feeling in the world.

It seems D’Antoni would like “Bring On the Herd” to return to Marshall fans’ lexicon, so I’d figure you’ll see that shirt soon in places where you can by Marshall apparel. D’Antoni said he hopes it catches on:

Let me put it to you this way: If it’s seen all over campus, and everybody starts wearing them, then we’re probably in the NCAAs and I’ll be happy as heck.

 

 

Yes, Jeff Goodman ranked the 2014 college hoops coaching hires. No, Marshall fans won’t be happy.

May 19, 2014 by Derek Redd

I’d say that blog post title is sufficient enough warning for what you’re about to read (well, as long as you have an ESPN Insider subscription). ESPN’s Jeff Goodman graded all the college basketball coaching hires of this year, and he didn’t have much nice to say about Marshall’s.

The grade: D-plus. It was the lowest grade of the 38 he gave.

(Granted, he gave Auburn’s hire Bruce Pearl and Houston’s hire Kelvin Sampson — two coaches who are coming off multi-year show-cause penalties from the NCAA — an A-minus and B-plus, respectively, so … yeah … there you go.)

I’m gonna hold off on judging anything myself. As I’ve written already, this is such a unique situation where a coach’s lack of college experience makes him a totally blank slate at this level. I think the read-react concepts he’s bringing to the program are interesting, but we’ll have to see how the roster takes to them.

 

Former Miami basketball player headed to the Herd

May 16, 2014 by Derek Redd

New Marshall men’s basketball coach Dan D’Antoni looks like he’ll have a new name on his Thundering Herd roster. Former Miami forward James Kelly posted on his Twitter feed Friday morning that he’s headed to Marshall. I’ve been told nothing’s been officially signed as of yet, but the 6-foot-7, 247-pounder will transfer and sit out a year before becoming eligible.

Kelly came to the Hurricanes from Owens Community College, the same school that gave Marshall guard Justin Edmonds. The Ann Arbor, Mich., native played in 27 games last season and started 11, averaging 6.0 points and 3.7 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game.  He was suspended for four late-season games for an unspecified team rules violation, returned for Miami’s last four games and was granted his scholarship release in April.

There are a couple of numbers in Kelly’s game that show why D’Antoni would be interested in him. D’Antoni commented in Friday’s Daily Mail story (which also has information on his contract and assistant coaches) about what he’s looking for in his players.

The player I’m looking for is a smart player that has skills — especially shooting skills and a little ball handling skills — who love basketball and want to play hard and want to listen and want to be coached. If we can get those five ingredients, then we’ll put a good team on that floor.

The key phrase there is “especially shooting skills.” Kelly shot 48.5 percent from the floor last season for Miami. That would have been the second-best shooting percentage last season among Herd players averaging at least 10 minutes. TyQuane Goard led Marshall in shooting 53.4 percent. And while Kelly only took 37 3-pointers, he made 15 of them. That 40.5-percent rate would have been the best percentage from 3 on last year’s Marshall team. DeVince Boykins led last year’s team with 38.3 percent.

C-USA basketball tournaments are Alabama-bound

May 13, 2014 by Derek Redd

Conference USA’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments have a new home that, thankfully, is a little closer to everyone. Conference ADs voted Tuesday to hold the 2015 tournaments in Birmingham, Ala. They also considered proposals from Shreveport/Bossier City, La., El Paso, Texas, the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Hattiesburg, Miss.

Last season’s tournaments were held in El Paso, nice venues, but two time zones away from West Virginia in the westernmost outpost in the conference. Next season’s men’s tournament and women’s semis and title game will be held at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. The women’s early rounds will be held at Bartow Arena on the UAB campus. The two arenas are about 2.3 miles away from each other, which means getting back and forth likely will take a vehicle. In El Paso last season and Tulsa the season before, the two venues were within walking distance.

Overall, the city offers plenty of hotel rooms and other amenities. SEC football media days is held in the area, so it’s no stranger to large crowds. And chances are the venues will be a little more up-to-date than UAB’s football home, the (ahem) seasoned confines of Legion Field.

So, do you think Birmingham will attract Herd fans to the conference basketball tournaments?

Cline provides continuity for Herd hoops

May 5, 2014 by Derek Redd

It looks like there will be at least one familiar face on new Marshall men’s basketball coach Dan D’Antoni’s staff. Sources have told the Daily Mail that Mark Cline, who has been a Thundering Herd assistant since 2010, likely will be retained.

Keeping Cline offers a couple of benefits to the new regime. First, it gives the Herd players at least one coach they recognize and are comfortable with, rather than them being forced to acclimate themselves to an entirely new staff. Also, it insures Marshall’s bench will have at least one veteran college coach.

D’Antoni is basketball lifer, but his experience has almost solely been on the high school and NBA levels. He had a short stint as a Marshall assistant right after he graduated. Chris Duhon hasn’t been officially announced as a member of D’Antoni’s staff, but everything points to him joining. He was a great college basketball player and a nine-year NBA veteran, but this will be his first coaching job.

Before Cline came to Marshall, he was on the staffs at places like Oklahoma, Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion among others. He recruited Blake Griffin to the Sooners. There remain spots to fill on D’Antoni’s bench, but this looks like a pretty good start.

Grab the sunscreen, y’all … C-USA headed to the Bahamas

April 28, 2014 by Derek Redd

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy offered this nugget of information today …

So Herd fans might want to make sure their passports are up to date, just in case.

This, of course, is part of college football’s new reality, where smaller conferences are creating bowls to insure their teams aren’t left in the cold in the postseason. That also gives college football 40 bowl games, counting the national championship game, starting in 2015, which requires 78 teams.

A couple of questions pop into the mind with all of this: Overall, will there be enough eligible teams in 2015 to populate all those bowls, or will they be forced to dip into the teams that finished 5-7? In terms of the Bahamas Bowl, obviously it’s an enticing place for teams to play. Will it be enticing for fans to spend the money to get there? This isn’t driving from Charleston to D.C., y’all.

 

 

The spring season ends …

April 26, 2014 by Derek Redd

If you were a fan of offense, Saturday’s spring game was the event for you.

From the ceremonial to the actual, the Green-White game had plenty of fireworks to keep the 9,163 in attendance happy. It began with a connection forged nearly two decades ago, when Chad Pennington hit Randy Moss for a pass on Team Pennington’s first play from scrimmage. It continued with 655 yards of total offense, including 431 passing yards from the foursome of Rakeem Cato, Gunnar Holcombe, Cole Garvin and Kevin Anderson.

Cato wanted to get as many plays under center as he could Saturday, and that finally added up to 11 pass attempts. He completed just three of them, but they went for 102 yards. The bulk of the snaps went to Holcombe and Garvin, and it was Holcombe’s day to shine. He completed 11 of 18 passes for 220 yards, an interception and three touchdowns, including two to Justin Hunt. Garvin finished with 109 yards on 10-of-17 passing, a touchdown and an interception.

The Marshall outside receivers were challenged at the outset of spring practice to show coaches they’ve improved. Hunt led that group in offering evidence. His three catches went for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Angelo Jean-Louis, who had been tearing up practice in the final two weeks, finished with two catches for 40 yards.

In the end, Team Leftwich beat Team Pennington 30-13 in front of thousands of excited fans, plus former Herd/NFL players like Pennington, Leftwich, Moss, Chris Crocker, Chris Massey and Troy Brown. Check charlestondailymail.com and the Daily Mail’s print edition later this week for stories on the progress of Marshall’s backup quarterbacks this spring, as well as one on how the Herd’s outside receivers finished the month.

(And also expect another story or two on new men’s basketball coach Dan D’Antoni, who was introduced at the 50-yard-line at halftime to a loud round of applause.)

Spring stats, combined for both Team Pennington and Team Leftwich, are below:

Offense

Team rushing: 51-224

Team passing: 24-50-431, 3 INT

Total offense: 101-655 (6.5 yards per play)

Individual

Rushing

Watson 7-23

Cato 4-(-9)

Butler 5-95, 75-yard TD

Rodriguez 11-60

Garvin 6-(-11)

Mudimbi 12-83

Holcombe 1-1

Anderson 2-(-14)

Team 1-(-4)

Passing

Cato 3-11-102

Holcombe 11-18-220, 3 TD, INT

Garvin 10-17-109, TD, INT

Anderson 0-4-0, INT

Receiving

Frohnapfel 1-56

Evans 4-14

Hunt 3-153, 2 TD

Reaves 3-44

Wilkins 4-60

Alston 1-7

Rodriguez 1-7

Woodrum 1-16

Butler 1-0

McManus 3-37, TD

Jean-Louis 2-40, TD

Defensive highlights

Reidel 3 tackles, sack

Letman 10 tackles, 2 PBUs

Shaver 2 tackles, 2 INT

Manning 5 tackles

Camacho 1 tackle, .5 sack

Carter 5 tackles, sack

Plantt 3 tackles, .5 sack

Thompson 5 tackles, sack, FF

Dillon 1 sack, FF, FR

Williams 2 sacks, FF

Scott INT

 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before — Pennington to Moss

April 26, 2014 by Derek Redd

Chad Pennington and Randy Moss began Saturday’s Green-White spring game with what used to be a common occurrence — Moss split wide, Pennington looking for him and a good connection.

(Apologies for the wide-angle on that video. Ended up on the wrong side of the field.)