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Ex-’Eer contacted MU about transfer

March 23, 2019

Guess who considered joining Marshall’s Thundering Herd for dinner and a season?

None other than James Bolden.

The same “Beetle” Bolden who played for West Virginia University’s basketball program during the last three injury-plagued seasons?

One and the same.

The 6-foot junior guard left the Mountaineers in early March, after having to be helped to the locker room early in the second half of WVU’s 83-66 loss to Tennessee on Jan. 26.

At the time of the injury, Bolden was leading the Mountaineers in scoring (12.2 points), assists (2.5) and steals, while shooting 40.9 percent on field goals and grabbing 2.6 rebounds per game.

Bolden has been injury-prone, suffering such ailments as a high ankle sprain, left arm injury, injured elbow and torn ligaments in his shooting hand.

But instead of convalescing during the off-season and staying for his senior year in Morgantown, the honor roll student-athlete has decided to become a graduate transfer. Bolden graduates from WVU in May.

That’s why and how Marshall surprisingly entered the picture.

Perhaps Bolden was intrigued by the Thundering Herd’s freewheeling, highscoring offense, not to mention Marshall’s love affair with the 3-point line.

What guard wouldn’t be?

Whatever the reason, Bolden reached out to Marshall and contacted head coach Danny D’Antoni. They communicated back and forth one weekend until, according to sources, Bolden told D’Antoni he had decided to leave the state of West Virginia.

Bolden’s home town is Covington, Kentucky, near Cincinnati.

It’s a shame Bolden didn’t sign on with the Herd because he would have fit right into the style of play. With his sharpshooting ability from the 3-point line, Bolden would have taken up some of the slack for the departing Jon Elmore and C.J. Burks.

But it’s like anything else in life. It’s hard for us to miss something we never had.

So, good luck to Bolden wherever he lands.

C-USA STRUGGLES: Conference USA began postseason basketball play with six representatives in such tournaments as the NCAA, CollegeInsiders.com and College Basketball Invitational.

The only one missing was the National Invitation Tournament. Old Dominion had the automatic NIT bid as the C-USA regular-season champion. But when ODU won the C-USA Tournament and qualified for the NCAA Tournament, the NIT chose not to fill the vacancy with another C-USA school. So, the league ended up with Old Dominion in the NCAA Tournament; Marshall, FIU and Florida Atlantic in the CIT; and Southern Miss and UAB in the CBI.

Now, for the bad news.

The only two C-USA representatives still alive are Marshall and FIU. The other four lost in first-round play.

Marshall defeated IUPUI, 78-73, Tuesday in Cam Henderson Center. As for FIU, the Panthers play Texas State at 7 p.m. Saturday in the CIT.

Otherwise?

Lose, lose, lose.

Longwood hammered Southern Miss, 90-68, on Wednesday in CBI action. Also that night, Brown defeated UAB, 83-78, in the CBI.

Meanwhile in the CIT, Florida Atlantic lost to Charleston Southern, 68-66, on Thursday. Of course, Old Dominion also was defeated on Thursday, getting routed by Purdue, 61-48.

What’s worse, Old Dominion’s loss ended C-USA’s four-year streak of winning first-round games in the NCAA Tournament. In 2015, UAB defeated Iowa State, 60-59. In 2016, Middle Tennessee upset Michigan State, 90-81. In 2017, Middle Tennessee knocked off Minnesota, 81-72.

And, of course, Marshall defeated Wichita State, 81-75, in 2018.

But, now, that streak is over.

Yes, C-USA is struggling.

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