And so Brown began his 14th head-coaching job, with a program needing a serious talent upgrade before its 2013-14 move to the Big East. The school's financial commitment is unquestioned - a basketball practice facility opened in 2008 and the 57-year-old Moody Coliseum is about to be overhauled.
One of his assistant coaches, Tim Jankovich, is a designated coach-in-waiting, making a reported $700,000 a year.
"When I got the job, we were only going to lose one guy, and we had to change the culture in terms of kids we recruited," Brown said. "We lost four players that I think might have been better suited to play at a different level, and that was difficult.
"Speaking to a lot of my friends in coaching, that's a normal process when you become a head coach at a program. You've got to be honest with guys, where they stand."
So far, the Mustangs (11-10 overall, 1-5 C-USA) have followed a script similar to that of the Doherty days - rack up wins against a perceived week nonconference schedule, than struggle in Conference USA play. Most of those losses have been close, starting with a 48-47 setback to Tulsa and his most prized player from his Kansas days, Danny Manning.
More recently, the Mustangs lost to Southern Mississippi 74-70, at Texas-El Paso 63-54 and 74-65 at Central Florida last Saturday. The Mustangs were down by a point with 1:49 left at Orlando but failed to score again.
Tonight's game will be the Mustangs' third road game in a row, and they are the last C-USA team that has yet to defeat Marshall. The Herd is 8-0 in the series, including a 74-56 dismissal in the first round of last year's C-USA tournament.
But most of those games have been close - Herd fans may recall Markel Humphrey's 74-footer at the buzzer, for instance. Herrion expects a "grinder" of a game tonight.
"They're very disciplined," Herrion said of the Mustangs. "They play at a good pace. They'll be deliberate at times, run a lot of clock in the halfcourt. They have some guys with a lot of minutes - they play with an 'iron five.'"
That "iron five" - Ryan Manuel, Shawn Williams, Nick Russell, Cannen Cunningham and Jalen Jones - have started all 21 games and average 30-plus minutes. Russell, a Kansas State transfer, leads all SMU scorers with 13.7 points per game, with sophomore Ryan Manuel averaging 11.8. Manuel averages at least seven foul shots a game, hitting 80.1 percent.
Six-foot-7 Texas transfer Shawn Williams is the top 3-point shooter, making 22 and while shooting 41.5 percent.
Marshall (9-11, 2-3), coming off a mind-bending two-loss road trip to Southern Miss and Memphis, may try to make that starting five run. Herrion said his team regained its focus last Saturday in a one-point loss to Memphis, but also rebounded in tangible areas.
"Our patience, our offensive execution," Herrion said. "We were much more efficient of an offense against a better defense."
MU is generally healthy for tonight's game, though Elijah Pittman missed practice Monday with flu-like symptoms. Pittman is the Herd's second-leading scorer at 14.5 points per game, behind DeAndre Kane's team-leading 15.0.
Kane still leads Conference USA in assists by a wide margin, averaging 7.06. Second-place Miguel Paul of East Carolina averages only 6.0.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.
Some facts about Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, who brings his SMU Mustangs to Cam Henderson Center to face Marshall tonight: