Herd’s slate was toughest in C-USA
Danny D’Antoni isn’t a whiner or complainer by nature.
Instead, Marshall University’s fifth-year head basketball coach is relentlessly upbeat and almost always accentuates the positive.
D’Antoni is a glass-is-half-full guy.
That’s why it was so noteworthy when D’Antoni commented on the Thundering Herd’s arduous road trip that was just completed Saturday night.
“Five games in 10 days,” he mused. “I never had a road trip in the NBA that was any tougher than that.”
That should raise a few eyebrows.
Particularly since D’Antoni spent 10 years living out of a suitcase as an NBA assistant coach for the Phoenix Suns (2005-08), New York Knicks (2008-12) and Los Angeles Lakers (2012-14).
So, when a seasoned basketball traveler such as D’Antoni makes this comparison it speaks volumes. It also invites research. The question is: Did Conference USA ask any other league members to endure such a rugged stretch of games?
An analysis reveals the answer is no.
Marshall played Florida Atlantic at home on Jan. 17 and hosted FIU on Jan. 19. Then, the Herd traveled to Western Kentucky on Jan. 21, played at Louisiana Tech on Jan. 24 and finished the road trip at Southern Miss on Jan. 26.
What made this particular road trip so tough wasn’t just the five games in 10 days. It was the fact that the last three games were all on the road.
No other C-USA school had to endure that.
Marshall’s travel partner — Western Kentucky — came close. The Hilltoppers were home to FIU on Jan. 17, hosted Florida Atlantic on Jan. 19 and were home to Marshall on Jan. 21. Then, WKU played at Southern Miss on Jan. 24 and at Louisiana Tech on Jan. 26.
That, too, is five games in 10 days. The difference is Western Kentucky’s first three games were at home with only the last two on the road. MU’s road trip included two home games and the last three on the road.
It’s a big difference. Charlotte also played five games in 10 days. But, again, the 49ers first three games were at home.
Here’s a look at other C-USA schools’ league schedules.
• FIU: The Panthers had three road games in seven days, playing at Western Kentucky, at Marshall and at Florida Atlantic.
• Middle Tennessee: The Blue Raiders host UAB on Jan. 30 and, then, play UAB again in Middle Tennessee’s next game on Feb. 2 in Birmingham, Alabama.
• Old Dominion: The Monarchs had a rough road trip, featuring four games in eight days with the last three on the road. Old Dominion hosted Southern Miss on Jan. 19, then played at Charlotte on Jan. 21, at UTEP on Jan. 24 and at UTSA on Jan. 26.
Huntington High’s Austin O’Mally competes in the boys 200-yard freestyle. Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles played three road games in eight days, traveling to Louisiana Tech on Dec. 29, then on to Rice on Jan. 3 and at North Texas on Jan. 5.
• UAB: The Blazers had three road games in seven days, playing at North Texas on Jan. 24, at Rice on Jan. 26 and at Middle Tennessee on Jan. 30.
• UTEP: The Miners had a twin-bill similar to UAB-Middle Tennessee. UTEP visited UTSA on Jan. 3, then hosted the Roadrunners on Jan. 5.
The bottom line is nobody else in C-USA played a stretch of games as daunting as Marshall endured.
Will it make the Herd tougher? We’ll see.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.