HUNTINGTON - If Marshall is still moping over its cataclysmic loss Sunday at Morehead State, that won't bode well tonight. Stephen F. Austin will give the Thundering Herd something to mope about.
Under new coach Brad Underwood, the Lumberjacks are coming off an 82-72 loss at Texas as they enter Cam Henderson Center to face Marshall tonight at 7. They were tied at 60 with 3:10 left in the game before the Longhorns closed on a 12-2 run.
Last year, they were even a few baskets from a glorious season, and still finished 27-5. They won the Southland Conference regular-season title, but fell 68-66 to Northwestern State in the league tournament.
Given an automatic bid in the National Invitation Tournament, the Lumberjacks nearly upended Stanford as Desmond Haymon's buzzer-beating jumper didn't fall. A few weeks later, 13-year coach Danny Kaspar left for Texas State.
As Marshall coach Tom Herrion sees it, SFA (2-1) isn't taking a large step back, if any at all.
"They've been really, really impressive on tape," Herrion said. "I think because the program has had a tradition of success under Danny Kaspar, even the guys who are stepping up now were in the system, maybe role players. A lot of their kids who are older are accustomed to winning.
"[Underwood] added a couple of pieces, but they have experienced guys, older guys, and they play in a unique way, both offensively and defensively."
The game is part of the Roundball Classic, a loosely structured exempt event that gives teams four games, with only two counting against the schedule. The Herd (2-1) plays North Carolina-Wilmington at noon Saturday and Western Kentucky at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and then travels to East Tennessee State on Nov. 30.
Tonight, the Herd tries to rid itself of the memory of that 102-94 loss at Morehead, a game in which it lost a 21-point lead and missed two free throws that could have avoided overtime.