Herd to line up against pair of power-conference teams
HUNTINGTON — With the Marshall Thundering Herd continuing a road swing with games against power-conference foes Texas A&M and No. 5 Virginia, head coach Dan D’Antoni spoke Wednesday about expectations.
Marshall’s five-game stretch away from home moves to College Station, Texas, for a 2 p.m. Saturday clash with Texas A&M from the Southeastern Conference and a Dec. 31 meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia, with the Virginia Cavaliers out of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“If you lose you get sad, if you win you get happy,” D’Antoni said. “My expectation is just coming into a game and playing well and providing good basketball. Then I’ll live with the results.”
D’Antoni said he wants to be competitive in the regular season and finish strong with a chance to win the Conference USA Tournament.
Marshall completes its road swing with C-USA games Jan. 3 at Old Dominion and Jan. 5 at Charlotte before coming off the road to host a Dec. 12 conference matchup with Western Kentucky.
“I tell these guys (players) you have to enjoy the process,” D’Antoni said. “Win or lose, you enjoy the process. We get better. The team progresses. As a coach, as a fan, as a program, as anything it can’t be an all-or-nothing situation. It’s to be enjoyed, to provide entertainment and hope.”
It’s too early to say whether Marshall will win 25 games again (25-11 in 2017-18) when the Herd was the C-USA champion and moved into the NCAA Tournament second round. D’Antoni is confident the Herd will do it again, maybe even this season, but you can’t worry about it yet.
Marshall (7-4) bounced back with some energy after a Dec. 8 loss to Toledo in overtime and won its last two game against Morehead State and a road game at Akron.
The senior guard tandem of 6-foot-3 Jon Elmore and 6-4 C.J. Burks are producing 20.8 and 18.0 points per game respectively to lead the Herd. Elmore, who stands third in the school record book and in C-USA with 2,117 career points, has hit for 10 or more points in 100 of his 107 games. Burks is also a 1,000-point scorer (1,436) and has been in double figures every game this season.
Elmore, 6-9 sophomore forward Jannson Williams and 6-4 senior guard Rondale Watson all average 4.7 rebounds.
Texas A&M was an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 team last season (22-13) and came off a 67-64 weekend victory at Oregon State to host a Wednesday night home game against Valparaiso with a 4-4 record. The Aggies have 6-2 sophomore guard T.J. Starks scoring 13.9 a game and 6-7 sophomore forward Savion Flagg at 13.6 along with 7.4 rebounds.
Marshall won its three previous matchups with Texas A&M — at home in the 1951-52 and 1982-83 seasons and on the road in 1989-90.
MARSHALL (7-4) at TEXAS A&M (4-4)
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: Reed Arena, College Station, Texas
TV: SEC Network Plus
Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM