CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After a loss to West Virginia which was memorable for all the wrong reasons, Marshall coach Tom Herrion was able to manufacture one positive aspect.
"We'll get better from this game; we'll move forward. It's December 5th," Herrion said.
Still in the single-digit days of December, the Thundering Herd (5-4) begins putting the pieces back together tonight at the friendly confines of Cam Henderson Center, against a friendly-on-paper opponent in Coppin State. The Eagles of Baltimore are 1-7, with their only win against Division II Cheney.
Tip-off is at 7 p.m. at Cam Henderson Center.
While the Eagles are ranked 287th in CBS Sports' unofficial Rating Percentage Index compilation, that come with a caveat: They haven't played a light schedule. Their first two opponents were Southern California and Texas; the last two were Indiana and St. Joseph's.
Coppin lost those by an average of 21 points. In between, the Eagles have lost to Florida Atlantic (64-61), Colgate (88-84) and Loyola of Baltimore (67-51).
The Eagles are led by 26th-year coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell, who is 409-373 with four NCAA tournament appearances, the last in 2008. Michael Murray, a 6-foot-5 forward, averages 12.4 points and 10.9 rebounds, the latter stat good for 16th in the country.
Two share point guard duties - freshman Patrick Cole (13.3 points, 2.5 assists) and senior Troy Franklin (11.9 points, 2.1 assists). They combine for 39 steals, part of the Eagles' 10.6 average in that category, 10th in the country. That helps give Marshall, which suffered 13 first-half turnovers against West Virginia, another ball-control test.
The Eagles are suffering in other areas, though, including a 7.9-rebound deficit and shooting just 35 percent from the floor.
Marshall is trying to lift its own RPI from a surprisingly low 277, and will do so without Robert Goff. The 6-foot-9 center is suspended today by Conference USA for his flagrant-2 foul late in the West Virginia game.
This will be the third game the Herd has missed Goff, who was injured in a practice collision with Yous Mbao. With Mbao out, the Herd will again lean on Nigel Spikes in the middle, with forward Dennis Tinnon sliding inside at times and JP Kambola available off the bench.
Tinnon and Spikes more than held their own in Goff's previous absence. Tinnon scored 36 points and pulled down 22 rebounds in wins over Nevada and Morehead State, while Spikes had 20 and 23, respectively.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.