Herd Roller Coasters Season

by Ed McCarnes

What a difference a year makes!

Following an 8-11 bottom line for 2020-21, veteran players and portal transfers logged a 15-13 final line in the 2021-22 whirls and tilts campaign.

Surges of success alternated with bundles of back step. Shooting success surpassed opponents in total field goals (626-577), 3-point goals (187-159) and total points, (1782-1680). The Herd was also better in free throw percentage (.707-.706).

Opponents converted more free throws (367-343) and reigned in field goal percentage (.384-.374).

Against teams ranked below Marshall in the pre-season poll The Herd finished 5-1. Against the higher ranked teams the finish was 5-8.

The most common victory strategy came from 2-point FG and FT (6 times). Other strategies included 3s and FT (3 times); 3s (3); FT (1); 2s (1); and a 2s, 3s, FT combo (once).

Opponents crafted four winning plans. The most frequent was 2s and FT (7 times). Other strategies: 3s and FT (3); 2s (2); and 2s and 3s (once).

In the floor game The Herd won the battles of assists (322-304) and less turnovers (355-464). Opponents prevailed in rebounds (1054-1052) and blocked shots (75-60).

By quarters Marshall was 1-3. The second quarter was most productive at 14-11-3. The third quarter concluded at 12-13-3. First and fourth quarters ended at 12-15-1.

The program’s marquee lauded improvement as the cause for success, Rebounds and ball security ranked as selected short subjects. Shooting appeared as a cameo.

The Green & White won 12 of 16 games when they plucked more rebounds. With less caroms, the numbers closed at 3-9.

Less turnover numbers settled at 11-9, even turnovers at 0-1, and more at 4-3.

For FG shooting, 40% is considered a base success number. At or above Marshall was 6-3 and below finished 9-10. The range from top to bottom was 56 and 20. The median number would be 36%.

For 3-point shooting, 33% has some consensus as a success base. At or above The Herd closed at 8-4 and below totaled 7-9. The median marked at 29%.

Starters dominated the statistics lead chart. Savannah Wheeler ranked first in points and second in total rebounds, assists, and steals. Aaliyah Dunham ranked first in assists and steals, third in scoring, and tied for sixth in rebounds. Kennedi Colclough listed second in scoring, fourth in steals and

rebounds, and tied for fourth in assists. Brianah Ferby placed third in steals and fourth in scoring, tied for fourth in assists, and tied for sixth in rebounds. Lorelei Roper listed first in total rebounds and offensive rebounds.

A review of the above clarifies inconsistencies as the major vehicle driving the whirls and tilts. Accompanied as a sidecar is the program’s height plight.

A roster check shows four MU players at 6-0 or taller. Roper led the active roster at 6-1.

A random selection of four C-USA teams focuses on the problem. Western Kentucky lists four players at 6-0 or over with the two tallest at 6-4. Middle Tennessee rosters five players over 6-0, with the tallest reaching 6-6. Southern Mississippi’s team shows six players, including four at 6-3. Florida Atlantic has five, the tallest at 6-3.

But that’s not the major problem.

Dunham, Colclough and Ferby have completed their eligibility. Roper has opted out of her senior eligibility and Wheeler has entered the transfer portal.

Returning active players collectively averaged only 19.4 points per game. Mahogany Matthews (6-1) is scheduled to come off the injured reserve list, but has not yet established herself as a prolific point producer. Coach Kemper has listed incoming high school recruits Meredith Maier (Fairmont Senior High) and Sydni Scott (Philadelphia, PA area) as potential immediate impact players.

Scoring step-up will be crucial to The Herd’s success in 2022-23. Self-motivation is vital in the off-season. Without overall individual player improvements and further roster enhancements, another tilts and whirls season looms eminent. Unlike time eternal, the period between now and November is very short.