CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- AFTER HIS Marshall team held off two excellent Nevada guards for an 89-82 victory, coach Tom Herrion uttered a strange phrase: "I'm tired."
I'm not sure I've ever heard that line from the third-year coach, the man who ditches his jacket before the first radio/TV timeout. Just watching the guy conduct practice will wear you out - you want to yell, "Tom! Dude! Come up for air!"
But Herrion had a long, long Thanksgiving week. It all started a weekend ago, when the Herd lost to South Dakota State on a last-second shot and fell to Hofstra in double overtime.
With Marshall students on holiday break, Herrion welcomed the chance to work with his team without the usual school-week constraints on practice. His staff needed to teach, and he needed to re-instill his team's toughness on the boards.
But a violent collision between big men Robert Goff and Yous Mbao made the week a lot tougher for everyone in the MU program.
That started with the 6-foot-9, 240-pound Goff and the 7-2, 249-pound Mbao being taken out of Cam Henderson Center on flat boards, immobilized and everything. Herrion tried to keep players focused on the practice, but he eventually had to go to the hospital.
That became a second home of sorts, as Mbao remained hospitalized until Saturday afternoon. Herrion fondly recalled his visit Friday night, opening the door and seeing seven or eight of Mbao's teammates there. Mbao was released Saturday afternoon, and met the team in a wheelchair and a neck brace.
Herrion didn't disclose all the gritty details of the injuries, but did say major concussion issues are involved. Mbao got the worse end.
That left Herrion with one of the toughest things a head coach has to face - telling the players' parents. And remember, Mbao's home is thousands of miles and one language barrier away in Africa.
"I know I'm supposed to win games," Herrion said. "You know what the pressure was? Trying to make sure I talk slow enough that Yous Mbao's father in Senegal could have any capacity to understand what I was telling him about his son's condition. That's pressure.
"Cutting a lead to six, five, four, that's not pressure."
On a less emotional note, the absence of Goff and Mbao poses a few rotation dilemmas. And a lot more minutes for everyone on the front line.
Against Nevada, JP Kambola played eight minutes, not far below the 13 he logged the entire 2011-12 season. Nigel Spikes played 28 minutes and he'll play more in upcoming games - if he stays out of foul trouble. Jamir Hanner played 14 minutes, scoring 10 points with six rebounds.
Tinnon will see more shifts in the post, I figure. He played 34 minutes and Elijah Pittman 35, and expect that to be a constant.