‘There’s the future’
HUNTINGTON — Marshall Thundering Herd head coach Dan D’Antoni pointed out Taevion Kinsey waiting for his turn at the podium Thursday night and said, “There’s the future.”
Kinsey, a freshman from Columbus, flashed his stardom potential throughout the season and in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament men’s basketball championship game Thursday, a 90-70 victory against the Green Bay Phoenix in Cam Henderson Center.
“He’s ready to take off where Jon (Elmore) and C.J. (Burks) left off,” D’Antoni said.
Elmore set the Marshall career points (2,638) and assists (738) records while Burks finished fifth (1,892) on the all-time scoring list.
Kinsey ended his rookie season with a 21-point, 11-rebound double-double performance while also blocking three shots and making three steals to help Marshall claim just its second postseason championship and the first since winning the small-college NAIB crown in 1947.
He’s a versatile, high-flying 6-foot-5, 177-pound player who began the season
as a guard and made the shift to playing as a forward. During the Herd’s 23-14 season he averaged 10.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and had 19 blocks in 24.8 minutes of action. He was in the starting lineup for 13 midseason games.
He was a Conference USA All-Freshman Team selection.
“He played really, really well,” D’Antoni said. “He plays efficiently, not many mistakes. We took him off his position. He was a point guard in high school and when I saw him in AAU. I put him at point (guard), two, three, four, center, and it didn’t matter.”
Kinsey said he watched and learned everything he could from senior teammates Elmore, Burks, Rondale Watson and Christian Thieneman.
They helped Kinsey in practice sessions by pulling him aside to say, “Hey, you could have done this better or if somebody is going like this that’s when you think this way,′ ” he said.
But most of what he learned was off the court.
“I look up to them a lot,” Kinsey said. “Jon carries himself very well off the court. C.J. carries himself very well. I really look up to Rondale because he’s a senior who really doesn’t play that much. He sacrifices coming off the bench for us. With him not saying anything or pouting and just coming in and working hard. CT (Thieneman) puts in work every single day in the weight room. He comes to practice with a great attitude.
“These guys taught me how to be a better person more than anything.”
Kinsey said he will continue picking the seniors’ heads until they leave and is hoping it will help him.
Marshall got off to a slow start against Green Bay with Kinsey having a decent first half and trailed by two at the break.
Then Kinsey took off.
Kinsey collected a missed shot and dunked to tie the game 46-46 with 17:56 remaining. He was fouled after snaring another missed shot and made two free throws for a 51-48 lead with 16:04 left in the game. His tip-in basket with 11:47 to go put the Herd on top for good, 60-59.
He shot 8 for 13 from the floor, 1 for 5 on 3-point attempts and was 4 for 4 at the foul line.
“I really don’t look to score,” Kinsey said. “Everything I do is like a tip-in or a chip-in just to help. These are the guys (Elmore and Burks) I look to for scoring. I’m looking to get them started because if they get started then it hypes me up.”
Marshall’s scouting report on Green Bay indicated the Phoenix wouldn’t box out well for rebounds and Herd coaches relayed that information to Kinsey, who turned his seven offensive rebounds into 12 points on a variety of dunks, tip-ins and free throws.
Green Bay head coach Linc Darner said he told his team, “Their (Marshall) guy went and got seven offensive rebounds and he’s as tall as me.” Darner questioned why his players didn’t do that too.
“Coach Corny (assistant coach Cornelius Jackson) said they don’t box out, you can get every rebound,” Kinsey said. “Scott (assistant coach Scott Rigot) preaches go to the glass every single day in practice. He was like, ‘They don’t box out, so this could be your game.’
“They tried, but you know, it didn’t really work.”
“He’s ready to take off where Jon (Elmore) and C.J. (Burks) left off.”
Marshall men’s basketball head coach