HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall's 2013-14 basketball schedule was one long, hard work in progress until its unveiling Tuesday afternoon.
Essentially, the nonconference schedule was introduced, as the Conference USA schedule was announced July 19.
Coach Tom Herrion breathed his annual sigh of relief, because putting together a basketball slate may be a tougher chore than recruiting. But this time, he, assistant coach Mark Cline and others are able to relax a little easier.
Why? "With the anticipated increase in conference games, we're pretty much done with next year," Herrion said.
Two factors involved there: Herrion expects Conference USA to go from 16 league games to 18, which will take two nonconference games out of the picture. Secondly, the Herd has strung together a number of home-and-home deals, which include ...
Penn State and South Carolina.
The Herd will travel to both teams this December, and host both in 2014-15. Herrion said he was looking a simple one-and-done for the Gamecocks, but coach Frank Martin was looking for an extra road nonconference game in 2014-15.
Speaking of the SEC, the Herd plays Vanderbilt in a one-and-done, Dec. 5 in Nashville, Tenn. That and the Penn State game are part of a stretch of four straight games away from Cam Henderson Center, culminating with the Dec. 14 game with West Virginia in Charleston - the first Saturday game in the series in years and the first MU-WVU December game since 1996.
The Herd also travels to Morehead State, East Tennessee and Akron, the latter the second of a four-game contract.
Marshall has eight nonconference home games, beginning with the season opener Nov. 8 against South Carolina State. An exempt "tournament," the Roundball Showcase, brings three potentially sneaky-tough foes to Huntington - Stephen F. Austin, North Carolina-Wilmington and Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers join Conference USA in 2014-15.
Including conference play, MU will play three NCAA tournament teams from last year (Akron, Middle Tennessee and WKU), and four National Invitation Tournament participants (North Carolina-Charlotte, twice), Louisiana Tech, Southern Mississippi and Stephen F. Austin.
The Herd's final nonconference game against a Division I opponent will be Dec. 21 against Arkansas State, defending West Division champ in the Sun Belt Conference. MU is playing three sub-Division I teams, however - Rio Grande, Alice Lloyd and Presbyterian.
"We have no more room to add any more games on the schedule for next year," Herrion said. "Some of the decisions late, the non-Division I games were a byproduct of what we have in place for the following year. When you balance out home and away, we could not start another series here this year where we would have to return a game next year to somebody else."
Conspicuous by its absence: Ohio, the 100-game rival which apparently backed out for this season. Will the Bobcats return in 2014-15?
"I don't know if we have room," Herrion quipped.
In team news, Herrion said Justin Edmonds should be cleared to return by the first official practice (Sept. 27) or early October. He said Chris Thomas has enrolled at MU, and that he expects no problems with the eligibility of Senegal native Cheikh Sane.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.
Marshall 2013-14 basketball schedule
Oct. 28 Concord (Exhibition)
Nov. 8 South Carolina State
Nov. 12 Rio Grande
Nov. 17 at Morehead State
Nov. 21 Stephen F. Austin^
Nov. 23 UNC Wilmington^
Nov. 26 Western Kentucky^
Nov. 30 at East Tennessee State^