CBS Sports’ college basketball insider Gary Parrish took another look at Conference USA on Wednesday now that non-conference schedules are drawing to a close. He wasn’t impressed.
Actually, he called it a mess.
Actually, the headline read “absolute mess of a league.”
“(T)he top of this league isn’t very good, the middle is bad and the bottom is awful,” he wrote.
(It reminds me of a line from “The Untouchables” when an alderman was trying to bribe Eliot Ness. “Mr. Ness, you’re an educated man,” he said. “Let my pay you the compliment of being blunt.”)
Marshall was mentioned throughout the blog post, mainly as a team that had higher expectations than its current predicament. Parrish said he considered the Thundering Herd to be the “obvious” preseason pick for second in the league behind Memphis. But losing Kareem Canty to ineligibility and DeAndre Kane to injury gave Coach Tom Herrion a different roster than he imagined in the preseason.
And Parrish is right. You can say “next man up” all you want, but when you’re replacing a top-25 prep point guard and the most talented player on the team — and the next men up aren’t on that level — things get tough.
Parrish did consider Marshall better than its record, and its fortunes should turn around when Kane returns, but he said the damage already has been done in the conference, which should be a one-bid league in the NCAA Tournament. I’ve been saying that about Marshall for a while now. Wanna make the Dance? Win the tournament. The Herd’s resume isn’t at-large worthy.
Tonight’s game against Delaware State, the final installment of the Herd’s “MEAC Trilogy,” should be interesting to watch, at least in how Marshall will bounce back from that Dec. 22 thumping at the hands of Kentucky. We also should see a bit more of new addition Kelvin Amayo. He played three minutes against the Wildcats and should see plenty more against the Hornets.
I’ll be there. (Y’know, ’cause it’s, like, my job and all …) Follow me on Twitter @derekredd for facts, figures and pithy commentary.