Rough week on the road drags Herd to 3-game losing skid
HUNTINGTON — Travel took a toll on the Marshall Thundering Herd last week.
Marshall made a six-hour bus trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky, for a Monday, Jan. 21, men’s basketball game at Western Kentucky and rode the bus six hours back home. Then there was a short practice Wednesday, Jan. 23, before a plane trip to Monroe, Louisiana, and another bus ride to Ruston, Louisiana, for a Thursday, Jan. 24 contest at Louisiana Tech. Another bus ride of about five hours took the team to play Southern Miss.
A chartered plane scheduled to bring the Herd home Saturday night from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, had mechanical problems and the team didn’t fly home until Sunday.
Marshall lost all three games in the week with little time to rest or practice in between.
Head coach Dan D’Antoni said Marshall should have beaten Western Kentucky and LA Tech.
“Western was the preseason No. 1 (in Conference USA),” he said Tuesday before practice. “LA Tech hasn’t lost there in 12 games. We had them both. Our chances next time might be good.”
D’Antoni said the Herd’s travel concerns go back further than last week.
C-USA games weren’t announced until July, long after Marshall filled its non-conference schedule. The Herd finished non-conference play with consecutive road games at Akron, Texas A&M and Virginia before beginning league games. That created a 30-day gap between home games and a stretch of five straight games away from home.
D’Antoni said in the future he’s going to pay more attention to scheduling to prevent another scenario where the Herd is away from home like it was before getting into conference play even if it requires paying someone to come play in Cam Henderson Center.
“It’s a learning situation for me,” the fifth-season Herd coach said. “We have to make sure we have those home games before conference because you don’t know what the conference is going to do. They don’t put it out (C-USA schedule) until after you’re done.
“I’m going to bring it up why they wait so long.”
Southern Miss bashed the Marshall Thundering Herd by 50 points Saturday. Marshall can’t change the result, so the Herd moves on.
Marshall (12-9 overall) lost at Western Kentucky (68-59), at Louisiana Tech (89-80 OT) and at Southern Miss (101-50), bouncing the Herd from first place into fifth at 5-3 with 10 games remaining in the regular season before the league tournament.
Last season, Marshall finished fourth in C-USA at 12-6 before winning the conference tournament and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Expectations this season were high and D’Antoni said that’s understandable, but he isn’t concerned about the team bouncing back from the Southern Miss debacle for its home games Thursday with UTEP (7:30 p.m.) and Saturday with UTSA (7 p.m.).
“The kids are going to play,” he said. “That’s when you get quality kids that compete, and I don’t have to worry about it. We’re one game out of first. Very similar wins and losses to last year and where we are now. Last year was the best finish in (program) history.”
D’Antoni said he told the players, “We play for the last game. We’re not there yet, let’s go.”