Tom Herrion

Towson Athletics

Towson unveils special uniforms for annual Autism Awareness game

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Last season Towson head coach Pat Skerry and then-Marshall head coach Tom Herrion, who’s now an assistant at Georgia Tech, began an initiative in college basketball geared towards supporting those who have autism and their families. The cause is a personal one for both coaches, as they’re raising children who are on the autism spectrum.

This weekend coaches across the country are participating in the “Coaches Powering Forward for Autism” campaign, and they’ll be wearing a blue puzzle piece lapel pin. Friday, Towson announced that its basketball team will wear special light blue uniforms for its game Saturday against James Madison.

Saturday’s game is Towson’s annual Autism Awareness Game. According to the Autism Speaks website, one in every 68 children (one in every 42 boys) is diagnosed on the autism spectrum. For this weekend, the goal of raising $6,800 per school (representing the 1:68 ratio) has been set.

Georgia Tech will hire former Marshall coach, promote another assistant

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Georgia Tech has reportedly filled out its coaching staff for the 2014-2015 season, adding a former head coach as an assistant.

On Wednesday, Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com reported that former Marshall head coach Tom Herrion will join Brian Gregory’s staff as an assistant coach. Herrion has been a head coach at College of Charleston (2002-2006) and most recently Marshall (2010-2014). In four seasons with the Thundering Herd, Herrion complied a 67-67 record. On March 14, Marshall and Herrion decided to cut ties.

Georgia Tech will also elevate Chad Dollar to the associate head coach, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. Dollar is entering his fourth season with the Yellow Jackets.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, the university officially announced the hiring of Herrion and Dollar’s promotion.

“We are extremely excited about having Tom join our staff and family here at Georgia Tech,” Gregory in a statement. “He brings a wealth of experience that will have a very positive impact on our players and program. He has an energy and passion that will not only resonate with our players, but also with our recruiting efforts throughout the ACC footprint.”

“This is a well-deserved honor and recognition for Chad,” Gregory added. “Atlanta is his home, and this program’s success is very important to him. He has done a tremendous job in every key area of our program; academics, player development, recruiting, and game preparation. He is a very talented coach, a rising star in this profession.

Herrion is one of two new additions to the coaching staff, joining Mamadou N’Diaye, who spent the previous three seasons at Coastal Carolina.

Has Marshall’s Kareem Canty entered transfer limbo?

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When ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported Tuesday morning that Marshall, despite repeated requests, was denying Kareem Canty’s transfer, it opened a window into the murky situation that is guard’s transfer. At first glance, Goodman’s report confirmed what the freshman himself had tweeted in mid-March. At that point, Canty, who was one of the nation’s best newcomers this past season, had an assist rate around 30 percent, which ranked in Ken Pomeroy’s top 100 (and seventh best of frosh point guards) and was expected to be a cornerstone for whomever Marshall hired to replace coach Tom Herrion, who recruited Canty to Huntington but had been bought out by the school.

Canty tweeted weeks ago, “Smh bad year bad news I loved playing for him not his fault we lost games,” as well as, “But I can’t hold this in any longer I will not be returning back to Marshall next year! It’s been fun.” However, since both tweets were deleted, it appeared Canty would remain at the school until the new coach’s hiring, which is why Zach Braziller’s NY Post report this past weekend that Canty was no longer a member of the Thundering Herd was surprising.

NBC Sports emailed men’s basketball sports information director Andrew Piper on Saturday morning to confirm Braziller’s report, and we were told Canty had, in fact, not asked for his transfer. With regards to Goodman’s tweet, though, that seems contradictory. NBC Sports reached out to Jason Corriher, the school’s assistant athletic director for media relations, on Tuesday and were informed that Mike Hamrick, Marshall’s athletic director, had “…told those guys there wouldn’t be a release until meet with new coach.” Since Marshall’s coaching search is entering its fourth week, that obviously has not happened. Corriher was also asked to confirm his colleague’s statement that Canty hadn’t even asked for a transfer — according to Corriher, “I don’t know and I am not going to comment on whether Kareem has requested his release.”

It isn’t surprising that Marshall wants desperately to keep Canty on the roster. He is a guard who will be a future all-Conference USA first team performer, a player who instinctively understands how to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Without Canty, a team with promise becomes more of a rebuild. But the combination of Goodman’s reports and the conflicting stances within Marshall’s communications department indicates there is a strange situation developing in Huntington. And in the absence of any reports, or even rumors, regarding the conclusion of Marshall’s coaching search, Canty could be in limbo for the foreseeable future.

Report: Marshall parts with Tom Herrion

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To follow along with the 2014 Coaching Carousel, click here.

The beginning of Tom Herrion’s tenure at Marshall was so promising. Back-to-back 20-plus win seasons had Herd faithful dreaming of NCAA tournament appearances, but two straight sub-.500 records, including an 11-22 mark this season, must have compelled Marshall’s athletic administration to make a change: per ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, Herrion is no longer Marshall’s head coach.

There was never any doubt regarding Herrion’s ability to bring high-major talent to Huntington. But clashes with players — DeAndre Kane and Herrion frequently butted heads, and Kane left for Iowa State to use his final season of eligibility; Elijah Pittman was suspended indefinitely in early December — undermined Herrion’s recruiting success. Even though the squad won their initial 2014 Conference USA tournament game, a 63-59 win over Florida Atlantic, a double-digit loss to Old Dominion must have provided the justification needed to part ways with Herrion.

Whomever Marshall targets for its next coach will potentially have a talented team to work with (provided, of course, that the group, which doesn’t lose any seniors, all returns). Kareem Canty proved to be an outstanding point guard, posting an assist rate of 30 percent. The Harlem native was named to the conference’s all-freshman team, along with fellow Herd ‘mate Ryan Taylor, and the duo led the squad in points per game. Combined with Chris Thomas, the oft-committed guard who is prone for double-digit scoring outbursts, and the new coach could have a strong offensive core to build upon.

Coaches to observe Autism Awareness Day on Saturday

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Saturday represents an important day in college basketball, and not solely because of some of the big games on the schedule. February 1 is also Autism Awareness Day in college basketball, with many coaches across the country donning lapel pins in support of the cause. The pins are in the shape of a puzzle piece, which represents the “missing piece” that children have have been diagnosed with autism lack.

Two coaches at the forefront in this campaign are Towson’s Pat Skerry and Marshall’s Tom Herrion, both of whom are the parents of autistic children. With the goal being to educate people about an issue that affects one in every 88 children (1 in every 54 boys), Skerry and Herrion reached out to many of their colleagues in the profession during the offseason.

“Coach Skerry and me were the ones to contact these coaches directly,” Herrion said in an interview conducted by Autism Speaks earlier this week. “There has been complete support across the board. Autism Speaks and college basketball will be together on this day. Pat and I have good programs but when we can get the rock stars of our industry on board, Coach K, Jim Boeheim, Coach Self, Calipari and all the others on board including the media you know you have something special.”

In yesterday’s Washington Post, Alex Prewitt wrote a story on Skerry and how he and his wife navigate the daily challenges that come with raising a child diagnosed with autism. The task can be even tougher for parents in states like Maryland, which according to the story is one of 16 states that doesn’t have health insurance coverage for autism.

And that fact, with many struggling with the financial aspects of raising a child with autism, is one thing that makes days like Saturday so important.

Kelvin Amayo leaves Marshall

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Just when Tom Herrion thinks this season can’t get any worse. Well, it does. Guard Kelvin Amayo tweeted that he is leaving the team after just three official games.

Adam Zagoria is reporting Amayo is leaving Marshall apparently over a tiff involving a scholarship.

Amayo enrolled at Marshall last January, but didn’t play in a game until the team’s loss to Kentucky due to academic issues from his time at NIA Prep in New Jersey.

Thundering Herd assistant Dino Presley told SNY.tv that he was leaving to get closer to home. A source also told SNY.tv that Marshall has had 13 players on scholarship since last fall. Division I schools are allotted 13 scholarships for a season.

The 6-4, 210-pound Amayo has listed Rutgers, Seton Hall, South Carolina, Towson, Hofstra and Oregon State, according to the report. He averaged 2.7 points and 1.3 assists in 9.3 minutes per game in three career games in Huntington, W.V.

This was supposed to be a season of success for Herrion. Then the team lost leading scorer DeAndre Kane to a hand injury and there’s no timetable for his return. The Thundering Herd have also lost back-to-back games to Delaware State and most recently got thrashed 94-57 by Ohio. Earlier this season, they took at L to Hofstra. They’re currently 7-8 on the season.

It also doesn’t help that Kareem Canty was declared ineligible for Marshall earlier this season.

This is also an interesting story considering this was a story on the Marshall athletic website on Dec. 30. Amayo was on the official roster for all of two weeks.

I wonder if  this is all karma for this.

David Harten is a sportswriter and college basketball blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.