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Chuck Landon: Marshall’s fans are catching hoops fever

June 19, 2018 GMT

Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.

It’s much like “Two-for-Tuesday” specials, but with opinions instead of pasta.

Here are the opinions du jour.

n Marshall’s fans just can’t get enough basketball.

Ever since Marshall knocked off Wichita State, 81-75, in the 2018 NCAA tournament in San Diego, it seems Thundering Herd hoops has gone to another level.

Marshall’s fans have caught basketball fever.

And they’re not interested in a cure.

That was obvious when 50-some fans I stopped counting at 50 showed up at 7:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning to watch the Herd’s summer workout in Cam Henderson Center.

It was impressive.

The catalyst to this up-surge is the inimitable Danny D’Antoni. Marshall’s 70-year-old-and-counting head coach traipses up and down the north sideline, where the bulk of the fans sit during practices, and entertains them with his insights, quips and witty repartee.

What other head coach does that during a practice?

What that accomplishes is D’Antoni makes the fans feel as though they’re part of the program. ... because they are. That was his goal when he accepted this job four years ago and, now, it has reached fruition.

It is an intriguing phenomenon.

And it shows no signs of subsiding.

Marshall’s fans are head over heels in love with basketball.

n As Mr. T so eloquently put it, “I pity the fool.”

The quotation came to mind after reading an ill-tempered letter-to-the-editor in the “Voice of the People” section of a recent issue of The Herald-Dispatch.

To say the letter was inaccurate would be a gross understatement. Besides being factually incorrect, the author also showed absolutely no grasp of comprehending the concepts he was railing against.

More the shame, the author actually is employed as an educator at Marshall.

Egads.

As sobering as that fact of life might be, it is nonetheless true. Let’s hope and pray for the sake of his students that he knows more about the subject he teaches than he does about sports.

This is the crux of the matter.

Most people try to disguise their disdain and ignorance. But, alas, others wear it obtrusively as if it were an ill-conceived red badge of courage.

The author falls into the latter camp.

What more can I say that Mr. T hasn’t already covered?

n Nobody is going to recognize Middle Tennessee’s basketball program next season.

That’s because it is in crash-and-burn mode.

It all started when veteran coach Kermit Davis left to accept the head coaching job at Ole Miss. That led to three members of Middle Tennessee’s highly regarded 2018 recruiting class asking for their releases.

Then, David Simmons, who averaged 17.9 minutes off the bench in 2017-18, announced he was transferring.

A few days later Antwain Johnson, who averaged 10.3 points last season; Tyrik Dixon, who had 59 games of experience at point guard; and Davion Thomas, who appeared in 13 games last season as a redshirt freshman; all asked for releases.

Coincidentally, new coach Nick McDevitt issued an announcement that Johnson and Thomas had been dismissed from the program for violations of university, athletic department and team policies.

That leaves Middle Tennessee with only nine scholarship players for 2018-19.

As Davis said after announcing his departure as coach, “Even if I stayed, it was going to be a rebuilding thing next year.”

Now, it’s going to be a survival thing.

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