November 16, 2014
In front of a crowd of 4,789 Herd fans, the Thundering Herd basketball squad earned its first winning streak of the season by defeating the Savannah State Tigers 66-47.
Leading Marshall in scoring was senior forward Shawn Smith and sophomore forward Ryan Taylor, both with 19 and 13 respectively. Taylor also recorded his first double-double of the season with 11 rebounds along with his double digit point sum.
As a team, the Savannah State Tigers only shot 0.328 percent from the field compared to Marshall’s .0428 percent. The poor shooting percentage of the visiting team can once again be credited to Marshall’s great man-to-man defense, which caused numerous Tigers to shoot difficult fade away jumpers and far post shots. Marshall also employed a 3-2 defensive set, which would lead to a burdensome trap from outside defenders, so Tiger ball handler’s in the corner would have no choice but to make strenuous plays.
On how the Herd surrendered less than 50 points, Smith said the team worked together as a unit.
“It was being as one,” Smith said. “Just running and talking to each other. Last game, we kind of did it, but this game, we really played to each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and rotating, stuff like that.”
“There’s been a big emphasis with talking on the court no matter how loud the gym is, or how quiet it is,” Taylor said. “We do a lot of down ball screens and sometimes our guards forget, but it’s up to the big’s to call it out. He (Coach D’Antoni) wants to create, or make our defense create offense, which is easier. Then on the half-court offense, once we see the bucket open on fast breaks and half court, we’re not timid to shoot the ball. He has a big emphasis on defense.”
“Coach just wants us to play together,” said junior forward Jay Johnson. “Everybody has to talk, and everybody has to help.”
Marshall ran its typical offense, playing high to low with post rolls, corner three’s, and backdoor passes. The Tigers ran an offense with three guards around the perimeter, one high post man setting screens or controlling the ball at the top of the key, and one low block post player for bailout scoring in case the primary offensive didn’t work.
As a Tiger point guard brought the ball across half-court, either a high post player or a wingman would receive the pass. The guard would then run the baseline to receive the pass in the corner for a
three-pointer or a mid-range jump shot where space had to be created on his own. The 3-2 defense would be vital, as the guard receiving the pass to the corner would be trapped by two Herd players. The only options after the trap would be to throw up a prayer of a shot or pass to the wingman next to him. The problem there is the Herd trapper closest to the wingman would swiftly rotate over, therefore, breaking up the offensive cycle.
Marshall didn’t play perfectly however, only shooting 6-22 behind the arc and losing the turnover battle with 14 compared to the Tigers 12.
“It wasn’t a work of art, but we’ll take it,” said Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni.
Herd basketball is going through a major transition with a high-octane offense and numerous defensive sets, so sluggish starts and year-round learning will be no surprise to anyone.
“I thought we came out a little flat,” D’Antoni said. “Something a team that hasn’t been put together for a very long time and hasn’t proved themselves winning wise for a long time will do that. It’s a good learning tool. We lost the first jump ball which we should’ve won and the first play we ran, we weren’t mentally ready for it, and we messed it up. I think we regrouped a little bit. Defense was adequate. It’s hard to guard that team because they hold the ball for so long and they’re very active. We’re going to have to do some work and make sure we’re improving on how we attack when there’s a lot of heavy pressure from a lot of little guys.”
Marshall’s next game will be against West Virginia Tech Tuesday.