Magazines Think Highly of Herd

Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

HUNTINGTON, WV With just over three weeks remaining until Marshall’s exhibition opener against Northern Kentucky on Nov. 1, three national magazines have high hopes for the Thundering Herd picking them second in Conference USA.

 

With four starters returning off of last season’s 22-12 team and the addition of a highly touted incoming class, Marshall has earned the respect of three of the top magazines in Athlon, Lindys and Sporting News.  All three have Memphis as the team to beat with UCF just behind the Herd at No. 3.

 

Sporting News even rated the best of Conference USA with recognition given to the best shooter and best leader.  Marshall freshman guard Justin Coleman was chosen as top transfer. Coleman will enter his first season as member of the Herd after sitting out last season following his transfer from Louisville.  Sporting News lists UCF vs. Marshall as the top conference matchup to watch.  Marshall plays UCF twice this season including a Jan. 14 meeting in the Cam Henderson Center.

 

The magazine called Marshall its top ascending team saying, “The Thundering Herd are earning respect, especially after there wasn’t a drop-off following a coaching change last season. Marshall may have Conference USA’s best talent outside of Memphis this year.”

 

Athlon listed the backcourt tandem of senior Damier Pitts and sophomore DeAndre Kane as a reason for picking the Herd second. Pitts reached double-figures in points in 21 of the 25 contests he appeared in and averaged 4.7 assists. He was the team’s leading scorer and averaged 16.2 points per game.  Kane was named C-USA’s Freshman of the Year and Athlon says he “should be up for C-USA Player of the Year honors this season.”

 

Lindy’s picked the Herd second due to “a solid perimeter nucleus.” It also mentioned the presence of community college transfers Robert Goff (Hutchinson CC) and Dennis Tinnon (Kansas City CC).  Both forwards, the duo should put up enough points to fill the void left by Tirrell Baines (12.8).  Lindy’s calls junior forward Nigel Spikes “a good interior soldier who can rebound and block shots.”

 

All-Conference USA Teams

The 2011-12 preseason all-Conference USA teams will be released Monday morning from the conference office in Irving, Texas. The selections will coincide with the 2011 Conference USA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Media Day held on Tuesday at the Fox Sports Southwest studios in Irving. Live steaming of the event will be shown at ConferenceUSA.com.

 

Tough Schedule

ESPN College Basketball Senior Writer Andy Katz recently rated Conference USA’s non-conference schedule and Marshall’s rated as the second most difficult.  On a toughness scale of 1-10, Katz rated the schedule an eight.  He listed games at Cincinnati (Nov. 25), at Syracuse (Dec. 6) and vs. West Virginia (Jan. 18) as the toughest on the slate.  The next-toughest opponents were Ohio (Nov. 30), Iona (Dec. 11, Belmont (Dec. 19 and Dec. 29) and Akron (Jan. 1). Memphis’ non-conference schedule was rated the toughest and given a nine.

 

“Playing three Big East teams, all away from home, will not only give Marshall a chance at quality wins, but also boost the non-conference RPI,” Katz said. “There are also a lot of sneaky-good mid-major opponents in here that will help the schedule strength.”

 

Katz’ Wooden Watch List

No Marshall student-athletes were listed on the 50 person Wooden Award preseason watch list released on Oct. 3.  However, Katz listed Pitts as one that could appear on the watch list for the award that recognizes the nation’s top player.

 

“The Thundering Herd are real sleepers to gain an NCAA tourney berth out of Conference USA in large part because of Pitts,” Katz said.

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