CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- WHEN DEANDRE Kane cramped up and left the game with 13:06 left in Marshall's 71-59 loss to Memphis Saturday night, it was his first trip to the bench in 207 minutes, 54 seconds.
He had last ridden the proverbial pine in the final 1:18 of the first half against Southern Methodist, a 68-57 loss on Jan. 30. The junior from Pittsburgh played all 40 minutes in the previous four games.
It reminds me of the time that, after Kane scored 40 points in 54 minutes in the Herd's triple-overtime win over Tulsa last March, Herrion looked at him and said, "You can't bitch about minutes no more, son."
No, he can't, and neither can his fellow starters. Kane, Dennis Tinnon, Nigel Spikes, D.D. Scarver, Elijah Pittman and second big man Robert Goff combined for 174 of 200 possible minutes in the Memphis game.
That leaves 26 for the rest of the bench, which seems to get shorter by the game. DeVince Boykins gobbled up 18 of those, Tamron Manning eight and Jamir Hanner not enough to register an official minute.
Goff, as spotty as his play can be, will get his time. Spikes can't play all 40 and big men pick up fouls. That's the way it is.
But Yous Mbao? He has played 15 minutes in four C-USA games, with 11 "did not plays." JP Kambola has 11 minutes in league play, with the same number of DNPs.
Elsewhere on the roster, Hanner's time has taken a dive in the last five games, to 18 minutes total. Chris Martin has played 12 minutes over the last seven games, sitting out four completely.
Manning has gone the other direction, playing 42 minutes the last three games. He essentially comes in at point guard, giving a Kane a "rest" over at the "two." Manning showed confidence Saturday with a driving layup, but committed three turnovers.
I think Herrion is trying to give Boykins a larger role, but the redshirt freshman hasn't brought much offensively. Against Memphis, he had a rebound, missed a 3-pointer and committed an ugly turnover trying to drive on the Tigers' defense.
All told, the Herd's bench scored six points, and that's with Goff scoring four. By comparison, Memphis reserves scored 19 points, led by Ferrakohn Hall's eight.
You look at all the Memphis teams in the past eight seasons, and that's a common theme. Somebody is going to have a big game off the bench - Marshall also has been victimized by Rodney Carney, Robert Dozier, Jeremy Hunt, Doneal Mack, Shawn Taggart, Roburt Sallie, Will Coleman, Chris Crawford and Wesley Witherspoon.
On a Marshall team that has scored 42 bench points in the last six games, who would step up like that?
Kane and his fellow starters must carry the load.
Conference USA's next realignment doesn't officially take shape until July 1, but the wheels are spinning in that direction.
Commissioner Britton Banowsky paid a visit to Nashville last week to chat with officials from nearby Middle Tennessee State, one of the most enthusiastic newcomers. Several ideas were discussed, but the most encouraging was getting that city into the basketball tournament rotation.
It seems that Nashville, 30 miles northwest of MTSU's Murfreesboro campus, is a site on par or better than Memphis, which hosted C-USA's tournament eight times in 16 seasons. This much is certain: Nashville is 200 miles closer to most Herd fans.
The Southeastern Conference and the NCAA have made their endorsement. The upcoming SEC tournament is being played at Bridgestone Arena, as are the 2015, 2016 and 2019 versions. The NCAA is playing the Women's Final Four there in 2014.