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Herd hoops roster evolves as 2nd game arrives

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- As Marshall's second game of the season approaches, the Thundering Herd now knows it will not have the services of one if its intriguing recruits this winter.

Coach Tom Herrion also revealed Monday he must tend to an eligibility issue involving one of his veterans.

"Justin [Edmonds] is going to take the redshirt," Herrion said. "JP [Kambola] is dinged up, and we're also dealing with JP on an eligibility issue that we're working with the NCAA on, to resolve as quickly as possible.

"Under privacy acts and the Buckley Amendment, I can't comment any further . . . But we do have confidence it will be resolved very quickly. Out of caution, we have withheld him from competition."

With that, the Herd (1-0) will play its second game of the young season tonight, taking on Rio Grande (2-0) at Cam Henderson Center. Tip-off time is 7

Marshall is coming off its 85-69 opening victory Friday over South Carolina State, a result that was convincing yet illustrative of what the Herd needs to fix.

"This group's focus has to be on getting better, from game to game or opportunity to opportunity," Herrion said. "Offensively, I'd like to see us play at a little better pace, in terms of not shooting as quick. Our offense is way behind our defense at this point."

The offense might have shot 40.6 percent and went 7 for 30 from 3-point range, but something went right. Elijah Pittman comes to mind, as his 31-point effort was recognized by Conference USA on Monday.

Pittman was named the league's co-player of the week. The forward from Covington, Ky., shared the honor with Florida International's Rakeem Buckles, who averaged 17.7 points and 12 rebounds over the Panthers' first three games.

It was the Herd's fifth such honor in its eight-plus seasons in C-USA, and the first since DeAndre Kane on Nov. 19, 2012. Pittman's 31 points were the most a Herd player scored in the season opener since Ronald Blackshear pumped in 32 at Niagara on Nov. 22, 2002.

The Red Storm, members of the NAIA's Mid-South Conference, come to town with an impressive offensive start, dumping Miami-Hamilton 121-72 and downing Indiana-Kokomo 83-73. 

Leading coach Ken French's team is Phillip Hertz (24 points per game), a native of Denmark who transferred from Clark College in Vancouver, Wash. The 6-foot-5 sophomore comes off the bench, and is one of 11 newcomers.

Point guard Jermaine Womack is the team's only fourth-year player, and he averages 12 points and 4.5 assists. So far, the team is shooting 51.4 percent from the floor, 76.3 percent from the line. Junior Dwayne Bazemore, a 6-10 junior who once visited MU, is redshirting this season.

Rio Grande's quick pace, should the Red Storm choose to continue it, will give the Herd a chance to work on all its defense in several ways.

"When you start to add a pressing game like we want to, and multiple presses, you still have to have that delicate balance," Herrion said. "In order to pressure, you've got to score the ball. And you still have to be able to guard in the halfcourt. So we have to make sure we continue to understand that."

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

 


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