HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - If you look at it one way, Marshall's basketball team is being dealt another bad hand in its schedule - its longest two-game road trip of the Conference USA season comes after it played six of its last nine non-league games away from home.
Keep in mind the Thundering Herd has lost 10 in a row away from Huntington, dating back to last February.
But really, the Thundering Herd is getting a break as it opens conference play with a Texas swing. Under C-USA's new Thursday-Saturday format, Marshall plays at Texas-San Antonio tonight and then heads to Texas-El Paso for a Saturday night contest.
First off, the semester hasn't started, so the Herd can take an extra day to get the kinks out from a long plane ride. Indeed, Marshall players and coaches flew out of Charleston's Yeager Airport on Tuesday afternoon.
The other advantage is this: The Herd follows tonight's game with a trip to UTEP, 540 road miles to the west. El Paso is also the site of the C-USA basketball tournament, but that's a solid two months away. That's a lot better than the Herd's luck three seasons ago, when the Herd made the 1,600-mile trip twice in a seven-day span.
So yes, this is good fortune.
"We got in Tuesday night; it allowed us to practice earlier today, get a little more settled in," Marshall coach Tom Herrion said Wednesday.
But that good fortune only lasts as long as today's 8 p.m. tip, when the Herd (6-9) takes on the Roadrunners (4-9) at the 4,080-seat Convocation Center. But the Herd might get a break on the hardwood, playing a team that probably would be picked 16th and last in the coaches' preseason poll, if there were one.
UTSA has nine newcomers, tying it with Marshall for most in the league, but the "growing pains" have been more painful. The Roadrunners are coming off a 104-71 loss to Arkansas, and have suffered other indignities - a loss to Division II McMurry, a 30-point loss to Texas Tech, a 26-point loss to Cal State-Bakersfield and a 31-point rout by Georgia State.