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Offense has led to new MU records

April 3, 2019

Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.

Does anybody realize the odds of an NCAA Division I basketball program having not one, but two, of its top five all-time leading career scorers on the same team?

But wait a minute.

Let’s toughen the criteria.

How about those two scorers also being in the very same class?

Not even Las Vegas would book the odds on that.

Yet, there’s senior Jon Elmore and senior C.J. Burks sitting at No. 1 and No. 5, respectively, in the Marshall Thundering Herd’s record book in career scoring.

Elmore has 2,593 points. Burks has 1,847. And guess what? There are still more points to come because Marshall has at least one and, perhaps, two games remaining in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

Both of Marshall’s senior guards will add to their career totals when the Herd plays Hampton at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the CIT semifinals at Cam Henderson Center.

But, getting back to this career scoring oddity, does anybody know how many times this has happened in Herd hoops history?

Never.

Only once have there been Marshall teammates who were ranked even in the Top 10. That occurred when J.R. VanHoose and Tamar Slay were together in 1998-02. VanHoose scored 1,803 points and ranks No. 7 and Slay produced 1,792 points and ranks No. 8.

The entire Top 10 includes No. 1 Elmore (2,593 points); No. 2 Skip Henderson (2,574 in 1984-88); No. 3 John Taft (2,332 in 1987-91); No. 4 Walt Walowac (1,982 in 1950-54); No. 5 Burks (1,847); No. 6 Russell Lee (1,815 in 1969-72); No. 7 VanHoose (1,803); No. 8 Slay (1,792); No. 9 Ryan Taylor (1,778 in 2013-17) and No. 10 George Stone (1,723 in 1965-68).

That means Leo Byrd and his 1,696 points have dropped out of the Top 10.

If that doesn’t show how amazing all this is I don’t know what will.

“It’s very difficult when your running mate is the No. 1 scorer,” said MU coach Danny D’Antoni. “C.J. being fifth when Jon does as much as he does beside him — that’s awesome. That’s a difficult task for C.J., but he understands where he belongs and he has done a great job of putting up numbers from a secondary position.

“Give him credit for that.”

Yet, isn’t the production of Elmore & Burks a direct reflection of D’Antoni’s offense that keeps producing record-breaking scorers and 20-win seasons?

“Well, the offense does help,” said D’Antoni. “I think the offense helps any offensive-minded person. The way we play allows you to be at your best. It gives you opportunities that some offenses limit. Our’s doesn’t. The style of play obviously makes a big difference.”

That’s because there are so many more opportunities to shoot the ball. “There are more opportunities,” agreed D’Antoni. “It’s freer. It’s more open. It doesn’t have a coach deciding who is going to be your scorers. The ball kind of decides it. The defenses kind of decide it.”

As a result, Marshall has lots more possessions than most opponents.

“Probably 20,” said D’Antoni. “If you’re looking at Old Dominion and us, you’re probably looking at 20-25 possessions difference. And, then, there’s the entertainment value.

“You get to see the best of Taevion’s (Kinsey) athleticism. You get to see the best of Jon’s creative passing. Some people could argue, ‘Oh, it’s not controlled enough.’ But you could go to sleep up there in the stands watching, too.” Not likely.

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