HUNTINGTON - Eight scholarship players were more than enough for Marshall in its exhibition game, a 94-67 win over Bluefield (Va.) College Thursday night at the Cam Henderson Center.
The Thundering Herd played without five players, perhaps most notably Kareem Canty. The freshman point guard was benched "as Marshall continues to work with the NCAA about an initial eligibility issue."
DeAndre Kane and Nigel Spikes were held out on decision of coach Tom Herrion. DeVince Boykins is out a few more weeks with a sprained knee, and Robert Goff would have played in a regular-season game, Herrion said.
That allowed Herrion to spread out the minutes among the rest of the squad, and those players took advantage to some extent. Elijah Pittman was the most visible, with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
But for the most part, the game was 40 minutes of "teaching opportunities."
"It's good to get it out of the way. We obviously weren't very good," Herrion said. "And we still win comfortably. It gives us a great opportunity to teach from this, starting tomorrow. There were some good things, but defensively I thought we were a little step slow.
"They hit four 3s early, they bank one in, and then we did a good job guarding the 3. And then in the second half we just fouled. We didn't move our feet. I thought their small, quick people, we were just chasing guys around too much."
Indeed, Kearsten Marion banked in a 3-pointer, his third of the first six minutes, to give the Rams a 13-10 lead. From there, the Herd allowed only two 3-pointers the rest of the game, a 6-for-26 total.
Effort was no problem, as the Herd outrebounded the Rams by a monstrous 69-25. The Herd's offensive rebounds (28) topped Bluefield's defensive rebounds (21), and the Rams managed just four offensive boards.
Marshall recovered from an early shooting slump to finish at 48.8 percent to Bluefield's 33.3 percent. Turnovers were a problem, though, as Marshall had 15 to Bluefield's eight.
The combinations on the floor weren't conventional, though. JP Kambola played more minutes (14) than he logged the entire 2011-12 season, Chris Martin played 29, Pittman 28, Yous Mbao 25 and D.D. Scarver 32. At several points, Mbao and Hanner were on the floor, a combination you probably won't see the whole season.
After Pittman, Dennis Tinnon had 18 points and nine rebounds. Scarver started 1 of 8 from the floor but rallied in the second half to finish with 18 points and Martin had 14. Mbao had 13 points and three blocked shots, while Hanner had 10 rebounds and made two mid-range jumpers in a row, a welcome development.
Marshall travels to Beckley Saturday for its closed scrimmage against Winthrop. Its season opens Nov. 9 at home against Longwood, and the Herd needs to get its act together in a hurry - a trip to Villanova follows two days later.
Herrion declined comment on Canty's situation, citing federal privacy laws. He had a terse response about Kane and Spikes.
"As long as Mike [Hamrick, MU's athletic director] still decides to name me head coach, I'll decide when they play," Herrion said. "So, coach's decision."
Marion led Bluefield with 18 points.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.
MARSHALL 94, BLUEFIELD 67
Min FG FT R A P
Andrew Wilson 33 4-12 7-9 6 2 16
Kearsten Marion 32 6-16 3-3 2 3 18
Devin Page 7 0-2 0-0 0 0 0
Byron Carpenter 28 2-14 7-10 3 1 12