Herd Thunders and Trips

by Ed McCarnes

Search for a term to describe Marshall’s Lady Herd 2020-21 season and help from a book of words comes to mind. When leafing through its pages, between the guidewords ‘incompatible’ and ‘incorrect’, ‘inconsistent’ catches the eye.


That term aptly covers the cameos of thunder and torrent of trips encountered through the season. The bottom line totaled 8-11. Inside that number the Lady Herd (LH) was 6-4 at home, 2-6 away, and 0-1 at a neutral site. Against C-USA, the final totals settled at 7-9.

Decisive wins over Western Kentucky and Rice highlighted the season. Marshall never looked back against the former and rallied in the second half against the latter. The Lady Herd opened the season with three sets of a win and two losses. A home stretch of 5-3 preceded two closing losses. These two losses followed this spurt that included the season’s only consecutive wins.


Analysis of scores by halves and quarters provides a first explanation for the losing bottom line. Leading at half, the Lady Herd was 7-3. When trailing, the final numbers were 1-8. The LH won both second half quarters twice and lost both seven times. Second quarter scoring showed nine wins, eight losses, and two ties. The other quarters played below .500. The numbers: fourth, 6-11-2; third, 6-12-1; first, 7-11-1.

Further clarification comes from the team stat review. The Lady Herd won total rebounds, defensive rebounds, blocked shots, assists, and steals. The opponent composite won total FG, 3-point FG, free throws, offensive rebounds, and points. Opponents also had less TO, personal fouls, and foul disqualifications.

The Herd was better in 3-point FG per contest; the opponent composite prevailed in FG% and points per game.

Wins came from five different strategies. The most frequent packaged more 2-point and 3-point field goals. Opponents defeated The Herd over six paths, the most often through 2-point FG and FT conversions.

A database of six sets of game notes provides additional insight for the absence of successful stats in shooting categories. Statisticians may argue the database is too small to be significant. However, the numbers certainly suggest some level of credible indicators. These numbers show 55 missed conversions of chip (close in) field goal attempts.

This number includes 33 uncontested attempts. By game, this totals 12-34 lost points. Without the 34-point outrider, the number range is 12-18 points lost. For what reason(s) did these results become reality?

Speculation is always interesting but its assumptions could be more harmful than helpful to the program. Player commitment to an off-season self-improvement program, plus coaching instinct and insight, should create the best path for upcoming success.