Feels like second season for Herd
Welcome to “Second Guess”
No windy rhetoric allowed here.
• It almost feels like a second season of men’s basketball is about to start for Marshall University.
The feeling is contagious. It’s mostly because of the odd, 12-day break between Marshall’s last game — a win over Middle Tennessee on Feb. 16 — and the Thundering Herd’s next game — a return visit to Louisiana Tech at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
There never has been such a long break during regular-season play. That’s why this feels like Season, Part II.
“We feel the same way,” said Jon Elmore, MU’s star senior point guard. “It kind of feels like a second chance. We messed around a little bit with the first one and had some letdowns, but we’re starting fresh. Everybody has regrouped. Back to the drawing board. I like our chances moving forward.”
Mentally, the Herd is wiping the slate clean.
“Clean slate,” insisted Elmore. “We’ve got four games in pod play. Our goal is to win all of them, get as high a seed as possible and I think, then, it might even be another new season when the tournament starts because it’s kind of a new, fresh slate.”
The key word is momentum.
“We want to be playing the best basketball and have as much momentum as we can moving into that tournament,” said Elmore, referring to the Conference USA Tournament on March 13-16 in Frisco, Texas.
“Like last year, we went down to UAB and they beat us by 20 points in the next to last game of the season. Then, we beat a ranked Middle Tennessee team away and won three (tournament) games in three days.
“So, ultimately, we don’t even care about our record at this point. Our goal is to win every game, but we want to be playing our best basketball as we move into the tournament.”
That’s the opportunity this “second season” affords Marshall.
“It is literally just like a new season,” said Jannson Williams, sophomore forward. “At the beginning of the season, we were all hyped and ready for that first game. As soon as the game got closer, our practices got better and better and better.
“Now, our practices have been awesome. We are all focused. It feels like it did when we started the season. But this is starting a second season. That’s the perfect way to put it.”
It’s not just a second season, it’s a second chance.
“It kind of gives us a new hype,” said Williams. “Yeah, a new hype. We are really, really looking forward to playing because we haven’t played in so long. And we’re playing teams that we’ve already played. It gives us a chance for some payback.”
Here comes Marshall.
• Did anybody notice the feather in the Marshall football program’s cap?
In what appears to be the first time in 16 or more years, two Marshall products — Malik Gant and Tyree Brady — were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, which runs from Tuesday to March 4 in Indianapolis.
Byron Leftwich, Chris Crocker and Steve Sciullo were selected in the 2003 NFL Draft. Chad Pennington, Rogers Beckett, Doug Chapman and James Williams went in the 2000 NFL Draft. And Randy Moss and John Wade were in the 1998 NFL Draft.
This appears to be the first time MU has sent two players to the Combine since then.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.