Louisiana Tech and Marshall entered Thursday night as two of the four teams (Middle Tennessee and Old Dominion being the others) fighting for the two-seed in next week’s Conference USA tournament with UAB already having locked up the top spot. As expected the Bulldogs and Thundering Herd went down to the wire, with Louisiana Tech winning 97-94 on a Derric Jean half-court shot as time expired.
Jean’s shot moved Louisiana Tech into a tie for second with Middle Tennessee, a game ahead of Marshall and Old Dominion in the loss column. Alex Hamilton led the Bulldogs with 38 points, four rebounds, six assists and four steals, and Erik McCree added 22 and ten boards.
As for Marshall, four of their six Conference USA losses have been by four points or less. James Kelly finished Thursday’s game with 27 points and five rebounds, but thanks to the heroics of Jean that performance came in a losing effort.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) Jevon Carter scored 15 points and No. 20 West Virginia used its depth to wear down Marshall for an 86-68 victory Thursday night.
West Virginia (9-1) took control with a 16-1 run early in the second half to beat its intrastate rival for the fifth straight year and for the ninth time in 10 tries.
Daxter Miles Jr. added 14 points, Elijah Macon had 12, and Tarik Phillip 11.
Ryan Taylor led Marshall (3-7) with 15 points. Jon Elmore added 14, and James Kelly had 11.
Marshall had won three straight.
Kelly, Marshall’s leading scorer, went to the bench with a left knee injury early in the second half. He returned six minutes later still limping.
The Thundering Herd went nearly eight minutes between baskets and the turnovers started to pile up.
West Virginia leads the country in offensive rebounds at 18 per game and got plenty of second chances against Marshall.
The Mountaineers made four baskets off of rebounds during the key run, including Nathan Adrian’s putback for a 53-39 lead with 10:50 left.
West Virginia’s lead grew to as many as 23 points down the stretch.
The Mountaineers’ Devin Williams was held to nine points, the first time this season he failed to reach double digits. He spent most of the game in foul trouble.
Marshall made half of its 12 3-point tries over the first 13 minutes to jump ahead 26-21. But Marshall couldn’t sustain any production from its reserves, especially when Kelly and Taylor were out of the game in foul trouble. West Virginia held a 38-12 advantage in bench points.
West Virginia went on a 7-0 run late in the half and took a 35-32 lead at halftime.
West Virginia: West Virginia outrebounded Marshall 48-32, including 22 on the offensive end. … The Mountaineers matched their 9-1 start of last season, when they finished 25-10.
Marshall: Taylor became the 50th Thundering Herd player to surpass 1,000 points.
West Virginia: Home against Eastern Kentucky on Monday.
Marshall: Plays Wyoming in Las Vegas on Monday.
Marshall adds foreign big man to 2015 recruiting haul
A native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Penava most recently played for the Turkish Airlines Euroleague’s U18 Spars Sarajevo and D’Antoni is excited about the way he fits into the Thundering Herd.
“He’s very versatile, 6-foot-9, and long,” D’Antoni said in the release. “He’s skilled and he’s an outstanding student. He will fit in very well with our style of play. As a big man, he’s good with his back to the basket.”
D’Antoni has Serbian sophomore Milan Mijovic and Aleksa Nikolic returning while incoming freshman forward Aleksandar Dozic hails from Montenegro. The international flavor on the roster has definitely helped in more commitments and we’ll have to see if D’Antoni has tapped a pipeline that will help win him games.
2014-2015 Season Preview: Louisiana Tech the favorite in the ever-changing Conference USA
Conference realignment has been rampant the last few seasons, and Conference USA is still feeling the effects of it heading into the 2014-2015 season. Gone are East Carolina, Tulane and the league’s lone NCAA tournament team from last year, Tulsa. The conference welcomes in Western Kentucky as its newest member. If you’re scoring at home, that’s nine new programs and seven former members since 2013.
At least one thing looks to remain certain in 2014-2015, Louisiana Tech should finish atop the conference standings. The Bulldogs were one of four teams — Tulsa, Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss — to share the regular season title with a 13-3 record. Like previously mentioned, Tulsa left C-USA, Middle Tennessee lost four starters and Souther Miss is starting the Doc Sadler era after Donnie Tyndall accepted the Tennessee position.
Louisiana Tech returns plenty of key contributors, but none more important than head coach Michael White, who was in the conversation for several coaching vacancies this offseason.
The Bulldogs boast the league’s top back court with Kenneth ‘Speedy’ Smith running the show, Alex Hamilton back as the team’s top scorer and Raheem Appleby, who was sidelined for several weeks last season with an ankle injury. Michale Kyser mans the frontline with his 3.0 blocks per game, and he’ll be an important piece this season, as the Bulldogs’ biggest threat, UTEP, has two talented forwards.
The Miners may have finished fifth last season, but was only a game out of first in the top-heavy C-USA. Tim Floyd’s team is headlined by sophomore Vince Hunter and (12.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Julian Washburn (13.1 ppg). Another team looking to make a run at the Bulldogs is newcomer, Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers join the league from the Sun Belt, and have been to two of the last three NCAA tournaments. Ray Harper’s team is aided by senior guards T.J. Price and George Fant — the team’s top two scorers at 15.5 points and 13.3 points, respectively –who will help with the transition against better competition.
Along with Harper, C-USA has three new coaches. Mike Rhoades came over from VCU to take over at Rice while Michael Curry (Florida Atlantic) and Dan D’Antoni (Marshall) join the conference from the NBA sidelines, despite neither of them having college basketball coaching experience.
In: Western Kentucky Out: East Carolina, Tulane, Tulsa
PRESEASON CONFERENCE-USA PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kenneth ‘Speedy’ Smith, Louisiana Tech
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged single-digits (7.8 ppg) last year, but he effected the game in so many other ways. He was second in the nation in assists (7.7 apg), was 10th in the nation with a 3.23 assist-to-turnover ratio, and he was also top 10 in the nation in steals at 2.5 per game. The senior guard was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year and is the only returning member of the league’s first-team from a season ago.
THE REST OF THE PRESEASON CONFERENCE-USA TEAM:
Alex Hamilton, Louisiana Tech: Another member of Louisiana Tech’s heralded back court. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged a team-high 14.5 points per game last season.
Pierria Henry, Charlotte: The 49ers top scorer from a season ago averaged 12.3 points, grabbed 5.1 boards and dished 5.8 assists per game.
Vince Hunter, UTEP: Hunter is coming off a great freshman campaign, averaging 12.5 points and 6.4 boards per game. Part of a talented front court duo with Julian Washburn.
T.J. Price, Western Kentucky: One of the top newcomers to the league averaged better than 15 points per game over the past two years in the Sun Belt.
If you follow women’s college basketball, you’ve probably seen some videos of coaches getting doused by cold water this summer.
The Cold Water Challenge, with its hashtag of #Chillin4Charity, is sweeping across the country thanks to a great idea from Arizona women’s basketball coach Niya Butts.
In a video uploaded to YouTube on June 16th, Butts had some cold water dumped on her head and challenged several Pac-12 coaching colleagues to do the same in the name of charity. The coaches that were challenged have 48 hours to also get cold water dumped on their heads and challenge others to do the same. If the coach that is challenged doesn’t accept and complete the Cold Water Challenge, they have to donate $250 to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, according to the stipulations created by Butts.
If the challengers accept the Cold Water Challenge, the person that put them up to it has to donate money back to the same cause.
Here’s the original video of Butts explaining the Cold Water Challenge and getting water dumped on her head:
As you can see, the Cold Water Challenge doesn’t look very pleasant — especially in the Arizona heat — but the charitable component and viral quality of the challenge has quickly made this a national thing.
Soon, coaches from all over women’s college basketball were joining in on the cause and the Cold Water Challenge has slowly infiltrated the men’s game as well.
It began with Marshall, as new head coach Dan D’Antoni was initiated into the challenge with the hope that men’s basketball teams would follow suit with donations coming for the Jimmy V Foundation.
Northwestern head coach Chris Collins and his staff then responded to Marshall assistant Chris Duhon’s request.
There are too many videos going on in #Chillin4Charity to add them all here, but hopefully this movement keeps growing and a lot of money gets raised for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and the Jimmy V Foundation.
The soap opera that is the career of Chris Thomas continued on Tuesday as Marshall announced that the former five-star recruit had been dismissed from the program.
The Charleston Daily Mail is reporting that the cause was — shockingly — a violation of team rules.
Thomas, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, averaged 12.7 points as a sophomore last season. New Thundering Herd head coach Dan D’antoni will now be without two of their three leading scorers from last season, as Kareem Canty transferred out of the program. They also lost Elijah Pittman, who was averaging 21.7 points when he was suspended from the team after nine games last season.
Thomas came to Marshall from Chipola Junior College in Florida, but the path that he took to get there was winding. A native of Denver, Thomas bounced between prep schools, making stops at Princeton Day Academy (MD), Westwind Prep (AZ) and South Kent (CT) before eventually enrolling at Chipola Junior College in January of 2012. Originally a member of the Class of 2013, when he was ranked in the top ten nationally early on in his prep career, Thomas went there to earn his GED, sitting out a semester before becoming a member of the team for the 2012-2013 season.
Thomas committed to Xavier in April of 2012 but reneged on that commitment that September. He was supposed to enroll at Manhattan for the 2013-2014 season, but that went out the window when he violated a conditional release stemming from an arrest for driving an unregistered vehicle without a driver’s license by testing positive for marijuana. He actually was forced to miss Chipola’s 2013 postseason run because he was in jail.
Who knows where he will end up next, but Thomas has done a pretty solid job of wasting what should have been a productive basketball career.