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No excuse for Herd’s poor showing

February 10, 2019

There’s no excuse.

So, nobody will read one here.

Marshall University’s Thundering Herd simply didn’t show up for a very important Conference USA men’s basketball game against North Texas Thursday night in Denton, Texas.

As a result, Marshall embarrassed itself during a 78-51 loss to the Mean Green that was never close, never in doubt.

It was inexcusable.

There were no alibis available this time, either. No leg-draining five games in 10 days. No three road games in six days. No exhausting 18 hours of bus rides leaving Marshall’s players to search futilely for energy.

Instead, Marshall practiced Wednesday morning in Cam Henderson Center; boarded a bus for a two-hour ride to Lexington, Kentucky; then boarded a commercial jet for a non-stop flight to Dallas.

There shouldn’t have been anything tiring about that.

Yet, were Marshall’s players energized for the North Texas game? Did the Herd play with competitive desire? Did Marshall perform like this contest was a “must win” scenario?

No. Marshall never led for one second of the 40-minute game. It was a pitiful performance, punctuated by a lack of energy, lack of purpose and lack of pride.

Especially pride. That’s perhaps the worst aspect of this miserable performance — a disturbing lack of pride.

What has happened to this talented Marshall team? How did the same team that started out with a 5-0 record in C-USA come so unraveled that Marshall has lost five of its last six league games?

It’s like their competitive fire has gone out.

It’s like their passion has turned into complacency.

It’s like their pride has taken an extended vacation.

Why?

That’s what everybody would like to know. The only thing we do know is the North Texas game was miserable to watch.

As has been the case recently, Marshall couldn’t have thrown the ball into the Gulf of Mexico early in the game. The Herd managed to hit only two of 16 shots from behind the arc in the first half.

That’s 12.5 percent shooting.

I’m surprised the rim wasn’t bent by all those bricks.

Overall, Marshall made only eight of 33 field-goal attempts in the first half — 6 of 17 on 2-point shots — for 24.2 percent shooting.

Of course, North Texas wasn’t exactly sizzling, which is why the Mean Green led just 36-26 at halftime. That meant Marshall still had a chance to get back into this game.

Or so we thought.

That thinking went out the window when North Texas’ Roosevelt Smart nailed three consecutive 3-point shots in the first 67 seconds of the second half. Suddenly, the Mean Green led by 19 and never looked back.

Then there’s the real measure of Marshall’s lack of effort and desire — rebounding. North Texas is the shortest team in C-USA, yet it hammered Marshall on the glass 55-30. What’s worse, the Mean Green enjoyed an 18-5 advantage on the offensive board.

That statistic shows a clear lack of effort.

So, now what?

Will Marshall show up at 8 p.m. Saturday for its game at Rice in Houston, or take another hiatus?

Nobody knows.

Including Danny D’Antoni.

“Sometimes we go from what looks like a very good team to absolutely nothing,” said MU’s frustrated head coach. “We looked like whipped puppies, and I can’t stand that.”

Guess what.

That’s an insult to whipped puppies.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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