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Herd hoops looking more like an expansion team

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- AS DEANDRE Kane continues his tour of potential senior night destinations, the state of Marshall basketball just gets more curious.

Before Thundering Herd coach Tom Herrion nudged the 1,496-point scorer out the door, Chris Martin transferred to Mount St. Mary's. Last week, D.D. Scarver left the program to "seek other playing options."

Combine that with the three departing seniors and Marshall has lost six players. That leaves only six returning scholarship players from last year.

In many situations, 2013-14 could be chalked up as a rebuilding season, with substantial success being a pleasant surprise and grounds for a coach-of-the-year honor in your trophy case.

In Herrion's case, "rebuilding" won't be the operative term, because I don't think fans are in the mood for that. Still, they won't recognize the product that takes the floor this fall, with as many as seven scholarship players making their game debuts.

The Herd will have the feel of an expansion team. You know, one established star (in this example, Elijah Pittman) and a whole bunch of role players and unknown quantities.

When your revolving door spins a little faster, you might have that.

Newcomers Shawn Smith, Cheikh Sane and Justin Edmonds became Herrion's sixth, seven and eight junior-college imports in his 31/2 recruiting classes (only counting one-half for spring 2010).

Scarver becomes the second juco to take an early exit. He had his deficiencies (ballhandling, defense), but don't lump him with space cadet Aundra Williams.

Nonqualifiers Kareem Canty and Ryan Taylor take to the floor this fall amid some anticipation, but the odds say only one of them makes it to his third season. Why would I say that?

Because of this: Of the five other four-year recruits under Herrion, three fell by the wayside early - Justin Coleman didn't make it to February, Kelvin Amayo was the midyear "prop" who left almost as soon and he arrived, and does anybody remember Dante Holmes?

Johnny Thomas was the graduate transfer who had two years left and only played one. As successful as the 2011-12 season was, his leadership was missed.

Kane was the last Donnie Jones recruit standing and he is taking his MU degree to Pittsburgh, Southern California, St. Mary's or wherever. (OK, I must say it: How did Kane get a Marshall degree in four years? Is the student-athlete support program THAT good?)

A lot of Herd fans consider Kane's departure a case of addition by subtraction. They likely will be reminded of that come next March.

If you want to tell me who fills that void, feel free.

As you probably know, Pittman is the lone returning starter and this may be the only time I put his name and the phrase "team leader" in the same sentence. TyQuane Goard and Yous Mbao, who have yet to average double-digit minutes in a college season, are also back.

Herrion's returning four-year recruits are Jamir Hanner, DeVince Boykins and Tamron Manning - three likeable role players. JP Kambola's minutes for the season (38) barely exceeded Kane's average per game (37.1), so he's a warm body.

This doesn't seem to be a great way to build a program, but what do I know? Maybe I need to be re-educated on the harsh realities of mid-major basketball; I don't know.

But I just hope the 2013-14 Herd doesn't become the C-USA equivalent of the Charlotte Bobcats.

Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.


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