Herd walk-on Loop awarded scholarship
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Upon returning from an 0-2 Texas road trip, Marshall's basketball players need something, anything, to perk them up.
When they boarded the final bus to Huntington, their spirits were raised. For Austin Loop, coach Tom Herrion's announcement was more than a pick-me-up.
Loop, a 6-foot-4, 207-pound walk-on, was awarded a scholarship for the spring semester, which began Monday.
"The ovation on the bus from his teammates ... it was the right thing to do," Herrion said Monday. "I'm thrilled we could do that for him. He's given a lot to this program, and he was awarded a scholarship for this spring."
Loop, a South Webster, Ohio, native, stayed on the bench and received a redshirt season in 2012-13. So far this year, he has played 66 minutes over 11 games, scoring 38 points total with three rebounds, four assists, a block and two steals.
Known as a 3-point specialist of sorts, he has hit 10 of his 28 tries. The .357 percentage is neither bad nor world-beating, but remember one thing: He shoots those after coming off the bench cold.
It's not like he can warm up on a spare basket prior to entering.
"Some people, I don't know if they understand how hard it is," he said. "I never understood how hard it was because, through my career, I'd never really been on the bench unless it's foul trouble or something. I'm still adjusting to that, for sure."
Loop was a first-team all-stater in Ohio's Division IV, the smallest division for basketball, and was courted by NCAA Division II and III schools, or similar levels. Instead, he took his shot at big-boy basketball at Marshall.
"He approached us, through our staff, and then became what you'd call a recruited, preferred walk-on, I guess," Herrion said. "He hasn't missed anything, both summers, every workout. I was thrilled we could do that for him."
And now, at least for a semester, school costs are on the MU house. He didn't fully get that when Herrion made the announcement.
"We had to get books today, start of class. It was nice not having to pay for them," Loop said. "You buy them at the [campus] bookstore, it's at least $150 a book, almost, up to $200. It's nice to not be looking on the Internet, trying to find them cheap, buy them used."
The agony of defeat lingers longer when a recent opponent is named the conference player of the week, and so it was with Texas-El Paso's John Bohannon.
The 6-foot-11 Bohannon also played in a loss to Charlotte, but dined on the smaller Thundering Herd for 18 points, 14 rebounds and a game-high seven assists. In fact, his assist number equaled that of the entire MU team.
"UTEP became, because of [betting-related] dismissals, one of the biggest teams in the country," Herrion said. "That was a bad match for us and we struggled to score against them because of their size."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.