Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

HUNTINGTON, WV - Royce Chadwick and his Thundering Herd basketball squad look to bounce back from a season last year that had the coach asking “Who is healthy and who can play?” Chadwick and The Herd endured a 9-21 (5-12 in C-USA) season, which was constantly hurt by injuries that hampered the coaching staff in placing a nearly full squad on the court.


However, the women’s basketball squad does return talent. Four out of the five team’s top scorer’s return, yet Chadwick has to replace his leading scorer and low post presence from a season ago in Tynikki Crook.


Chadwick and his staff will attempt to gel together six returners and 11 newcomers as sleepers within Conference USA. They hope to do so by building upon their strong defense from a year ago, in which they were fifth best in conference scoring defense and second best in rebounding defense.


Returning for the green and white will be Lateidra Elliott, Veronica Ruiz, Alaya Mitchell, Rashed Henriques, Dorina Barrett and Orlandria Williams.


Elliott, a senior from Louisville, KY, will return to run the point for the Herd. The senior is the team’s second leading scorer from last year, averaging 9.2 points per game. Additionally, she was second in assists on the squad (68) and was tied for first in average minutes played at 31.9 per game. She started at the point guard position for the Herd in all 20 games she appeared in.


Ruiz, will return to the Herd for her junior season after a productive 2010-11 campaign. The Harlem, N.Y. native averaged 8.5 points per game, third best for the Herd last year, while also collecting 6.1 rebounds per game, 14th best in C-USA.  Her mark of 5.0 defensive rebounds per game during conference games placed her tied for seventh among C-USA foes.


Another returning player for the Herd is senior Alaya Mitchell. Along with Crook, she appeared in all 30 games the Herd played, starting in every game but one. Mitchell lead the team in assists (69), and tied with Elliott for minutes played per game (31.9). The Canton, Mich. native was third on the team in rebounds per game, despite being only 5-5. Mitchell also led the team in steals with 37.


Senior Rashed Henriques will return for her fourth and final season as a member of the green and white. The guard from Brooklyn, N.Y. appeared in 21 games for the Herd, starting in 18 of them. She averaged 7.8 points per game during conference games, which was fourth best on the team, despite appearing in only nine C-USA games. She currently leads all active MU players in three-point field goals (45).


Other returners for the Herd will be sophomore guard, Dorina Barrett and sophomore forward Orlandria Williams.

Joining Royce Chadwick and the six returning players are 11 new ladies hoping to help the Herd sneak through the conference and finish towards the top.


These newcomers are guard Shay Weaver, guard Jasmine Shaw, guard Lateidra Elliott, guard Shynisha Johnson, forward Victoria Wells, forward Justine Boerger, forward Chuckwuka Ezeigbo, forward Suporia Dickens, forward Alyse Poindexter, center Leandra King and center Nataia Jackson.


Chadwick returns for his 11th season as head coach of at Marshall. He is once again joined by Roxanne White, who has been on the bench with Chadwick for all 11 seasons at Marshall. Deidra Johnson returns for her second year with the Thundering Herd.


A newcomer to the staff this year is Ed Geth. He comes to Marshall via Wofford University of the Southern Conference, where he was a member of the women’s basketball coaching staff for the past seven years.


The Norfolk, Va. native brings a wealth of experience through his collegiate and professional playing career, as well as his previous time coaching within collegiate programs. Geth is a former member of the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball squad, where he captured a national championship in 1993.


A competitive schedule awaits the Thundering Herd. Eight postseason teams from a season ago will face the Herd. This includes non-conference foes Kent State (WNIT), Chicago State (WBI) and Tennessee Tech (WNIT) plus the annual tilt with WVU (NCAA) in Charleston. Additionally, a road battle with 20-game winner Morehead State and Ohio are included on the schedule.


The Conference USA schedule does not get any easier for Chadwick’s crew. The 16-game schedule includes games against three foes that enjoyed postseason success a year ago. Games at Houston (NCAA), home against Rice (WNIT), and home and away versus UAB (WBI), will provide stern tests to Elliot, Ruiz, Mitchell and the rest of the Thundering Herd.


Action begins Nov. 3 with an exhibition at home against Salem International. Following a second exhibition against Bluefield State, the Thundering Herd will take to the court for the regular season and home opener against Kent State, Nov. 11 at 5pm.