"My junior year, he wasn't half the player he [is now]," Tinnon said. "He didn't do those type of things. We played them and we beat them, but he was a totally different player. I don't know if he was a role player, he had to play his position or whatever.
"But this year he's more of a scorer, he looks to attack the basket. He can handle the ball really well, he can rebound, score on the low post. The only thing he [doesn't do], he never shoots 3s [1 of 2 for the season]. The only thing he's capable of doing is driving. He can hit a 15-, 17-foot jumper, but his first thought is to drive, score a bucket and get an 'and one,' whatever."
Some problems in that game persisted through the end of the season. The Herd is worst in C-USA in league play in guarding the 3-pointer (39.4 percent), yielding 29 baskets in 58 attempts over the last three games. It's no coincidence that those three opponents - Houston, Southern Miss and East Carolina - averaged 87.7 points.
The Herd's offense has shown hints of the explosiveness expected before the season. It has shot 50 percent or better three times in the last seven games, and went 49.2 percent in the 86-79 loss last weekend at ECU. MU hit an even 10 of 20 from 3-pointer range in the win over Southern Miss a week ago.
"We're playing well offensively right now," Herrion said. "Our execution, our shot selection has been really good."
And get this: The Herd is shooting free throws without all that clanking noise.
Really. The team is 59 of 78, 75.6 percent, over the last three games. Its level in league play is actually 61.2 percent - unthinkable in those two January performances of 43.5 percent.
"As painful as it has been at times at the beginning of the season, the kids have done a good job staying with it, working on it," Herrion said. "The staff's done a good job trying to help guys make some adjustments when needed. They're shooting with a lot more confidence right now."
Playing as a ninth seed against a No. 8 in Tulane, the Herd needs all the confidence it can muster, and needs it from the opening tip. Success gets MU a 7 p.m. game Thursday against top seed Memphis; a loss ...
You can't think about it in the "new season," a speech Herrion has given a few times.
"So has 300 or so coaches in the country," the Herd coach said. "Every team going to Tulsa in our league, and tournaments going on or have gone on, we're seeing that. We're seeing it already."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com or at twitter.com/dougsmock.