Herd men moving on in CIT
HUNTINGTON — Give the Marshall Thundering Herd fans an assist.
Marshall won its CollegeInsider.com Tournament opener Tuesday against IUPUI, 78-73, with a turnout of 3,725 spectators in Cam Henderson Center. Marshall’s average crowd at home this season is 6,374, but postseason games aren’t part of season tickets so everyone had to pay their way into the game.
Other CIT first-round games played Monday and Tuesday had attendance of 777 at NJIT and 622 at Robert Morris.
“I want to thank them (the fans) from the bottom of my heart,” said Dan D’Antoni, the Marshall head coach in his fifth season. “They’ll help build us a program here that will keep growing. They certainly came out and gave the extra we needed.”
Marshall (20-14) is the No. 1 seed in the CIT and receives a bye through the second round. First-round games are scheduled through Saturday. The Herd stays at home throughout the tournament and its next game in the quarterfinals is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday against an undetermined opponent.
Herd fans were treated to something special when Jon Elmore broke the school’s all-time points record.
Elmore passed the record of 2,574 set by Skip Henderson from 1984 to 1988 on a three-point play with 10:25 remaining in the game. The 6-foot-3 senior guard from Charleston grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled up for a layup and tacked on a free throw to set the standard of 2,577.
Henderson is imprisoned for life without parole in Georgia after a 2001 incident for hijacking a car at gunpoint, kidnapping the driver, robbing a store
MARSHALL CAREER POINTS
1. Jon Elmore (2015-present) 2,577
2. Skip Henderson (1984-88) 2,574
3. John Taft (1987-91) 2,332
4.Walt Walowac (1950-54) 1,982
5. C.J. Burks (2015-present) 1,827
6. Russell Lee (1969-72) 1,815
7. J.R. VanHoose (1998-02) 1,803
8. Tamar Slay (1998-02) 1,792
9. Ryan Taylor (2013-17) 1,778
10. George Stone (1965-68) 1,723
and threatening a clerk with the gun. He wanted Elmore to break the record and told him that in a letter that arrived before the game.
“It was a typed letter one of his childhood friends brought from Georgia,” Elmore said. “He (the friend) spoke to us before the game, just talked to us about how good of a player Skip was, then he talked about the mistakes he made and he didn’t want us to go down the same track.
“He talked about there is a fine line between right and wrong, and when you’re flirting with that line things can go bad pretty quickly.”
Elmore didn’t score again after breaking the record and ended the night with 22 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and five steals. He’s averaging 20.3 points this season, three more than senior teammate C.J. Burks, who also had a milestone performance.
Burks, a 6-4 guard from Martinsburg, West Virginia, scored 25 to pass Russell Lee (1,815, 1969-72) and J.R. VanHoose (1,803, 1988-92) into fifth place in Marshall records with 1,827 for his career. Burks also had six rebounds and three assists against IUPUI (16-17).
“Just being from West Virginia, it’s a complete honor playing for a hometown team,” Burks said. “Us breaking the records shows how hard we work. We work unbelievably hard. I don’t think anybody really knows the ins and outs of that. The coaching staff and fans believe in us. Having a great support system like that helping us every day helps us a lot.”
D’Antoni said the team had higher aims for the season as the defending C-USA champion and gave credit to the players for staying with it.
Losing last week against Southern Miss in the conference semifinals was a letdown because the team wanted to be back where it was last season, D’Antoni said. He said the Herd returned from the C-USA Tournament and had its two best practices of the season before playing IUPUI.
Marshall reached 20 wins for the third consecutive season, which was accomplished only four times previously. Marshall’s record is four straight 20-win seasons by Cam Henderson’s teams from 1936 to 1940.
Sophomore guard Jarrod West from Clarksburg, West Virginia, made four steals, giving him 73 this season and moved him within two of the school record shared by Sidney Coles (1995-96) and Jeff Guthrie (1984-85).
One of the referees working Tuesday’s game was Edwin Young, the brother of former Marshall guard Travis Young (1998-2001).
MARSHALL (20-14) VS. OPPONENT TBD
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Cam Henderson Center, Huntington
RADIO: WDGG 93.7FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM, WMUL 88.1-FM