Chuck Landon: Herd answers rest or rust debate
When Marshall’s Thundering Herd inexplicably received a 12-day furlough due to bonus play, it created an interesting debate.
Would the layoff create much-needed rest or much-unneeded rust?
Now, we have the answer.
Marshall roared to its third consecutive victory in bonus play Wednesday night with a dominating 94-78 win over FIU in Cam Henderson Center.
“That answers it,” said Marshall coach Danny D’Antoni, who posed the original rest vs. rust query. “I think it goes to Jon (Elmore) and C.J. (Burks), too, as far as the rest factor and why they needed it.
“We went all three sessions in the summer - they went two. Then, they went from there and all summer played in different camps and different places. Then, we came back and had 10 full days to go to the Bahamas. Then, we played two weeks over there.”
And that was just the beginning.
“Then, we came back and within a short period of time,” continued D’Antoni, “we’re back on campus playing again. Then, we were gone from December 15th to January the 4th or 5th. Come back for about a week or 10 days and, then, we go on that week of hell.
“That was the coup de grace. It was too much after that.”
The Herd was dead on its feet and it showed in MU’s record. It also showed in Marshall’s shooting.
In MU’s 27 games before pod play began, the Herd made only 756 of 1,735 shots (43.6 percent) and connected on just 253 of 772 3-point attempts (32.8 percent). Marshall also got outrebounded by a resounding 43.0 to 32.6 (minus-10.4).
But, then, look what happened in eyebrow-raising road wins at Louisiana Tech and North Texas. Marshall made 57 of 114 field goal attempts (50.0 percent), nailed 29 of 60 3-point tries (48.3 percent) and narrowed the rebounding deficit to minus-2.5.
Obviously, it took those 12 days to rejuvenate the weary Herd.
“I think every bit of it,” said D’Antoni. “It was more than just the week of hell. It was a buildup. Then, that kind of ended it. You don’t get over all that in two or three days. That’s not a two or three-day rest thing.
“So, we gave them five days completely off. And I think everyone can see the difference.”
The difference was obvious again Wednesday against FIU. Although Marshall started slowly and led for only 5:55 of the first half, the Herd revved its energy to an entirely different level in the second half.
At one point, Marshall went on a 15-2 run during a span of 3:40. Then, defensively, the Herd held FIU to zero field goals over a 4:17 span.
Is it any wonder the partisan crowd of 5,822 gave Marshall a standing ovation with 8:27 remaining after Jarrod West’s missed 3-pointer was rebounded and converted into a field goal by Darius George?
The fans simply wanted to show the Herd they recognized the effort and desire.
But, then again, how could anybody miss it?
The disparity in energy levels couldn’t have been more obvious.
Right, Jon Elmore?
“Rust or rest,” said MU’s star senior point guard rhetorically, “100 percent rest.”
Who says an old coach can’t be taught new tricks? D’Antoni admits the mistake of too much work and a non-friendly road schedule.
“I learned a lesson about playing year-round,” he said.
Just in time for the Conference USA Tournament.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com.