His most vivid memory was the atmosphere at Syracuse, which he called "crazy, kind of overwhelming." His worst memory had nothing to do with defeats, but waking up after a horrific practice collision with 7-foot-2 teammate Yous Mbao. He is thankful to return to good health, needless to say.
Coach Tom Herrion is proudest of the trio's impending degrees - Spikes and Tinnon in business management, Goff in general studies.
"We had to do a lot to keep [Spikes] here, in terms helping him get his academics straight when I got here," Herrion said. "Nigel has been here five years, two years with former coaches and three years with us - it's been unbelievable to watch his maturation, his growth on and off the floor, his personality. He needs one class this semester to get his degree. I'm most proud of that.
"And Dennis and Rob only being here two years, but it seems like it's been so much longer. I think what we've done for both of those guys is created a stable environment for them, maybe the first time in their lives, and they've excelled on and off the floor."
Those three will be needed to help the Herd (12-17, 5-9 Conference USA) overtake the Golden Eagles (22-7, 11-3), coached by Donnie Tyndall after the resurrection by Larry Eustachy ended last spring. The Eagles, a solid second place in the C-USA standings, made the 2012 NCAA tournament as an at-large team and is a fringe candidate to do it again.
Several Eagles are putting up better numbers in conference play (partly owing to the destruction of Marshall). That includes Neil Watson, who averages 10.4 points, 4.4 assists and shoots 50.9 percent in the 14 league games.
Six-foot-5 forward Dwayne Davis' scoring average has increased to 15.6 points, while Jonathan Mills' rebounding mark has bumped up from 7.3 to 7.7 per outing. As a team, the Eagles are shooting 48.5 percent in conference play.
Last weekend, Watson scored 26 points and Mills had 17 rebounds in an 88-69 defeat of East Carolina.
"They pass the ball really well as a team," Herrion said. "Shoot it well. They've got a lot of weapons. Donnie's done a really good job in the transition."
Marshall is tied for eighth place (removing Central Florida from the standings) with Houston, but the Cougars own the tiebreaker after their 103-76 blitzing of the Herd last weekend. The Herd is two games behind a three-way tie for fourth but would need to win its last two games and get a "Hail Mary" of help to nab one of five first-place byes in the C-USA tournament.
One personnel note: Jamir Hanner, who did not make the trip to Houston to catch up on academics, will dress tonight.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@ wvgazette.com or at twitter.com/dougsmock.