Middle Tennessee 86, Marshall 78
March 14, 2012
Middle Tennessee 86, Marshall 78
NIT First Round
March 13, 2012
Marshall Head Coach Tom Herrion
"Obviously that was a disappointing way to end our season. I have to give Middle Tennessee a lot of credit, though. They looked like a team that had not played in nine or 10 days and we looked like a team that had played our fifth game in seven days - and those are just facts. I was concerned with our level of energy and what we had left in the tank. They popped us early and we had to come from behind. We made a valiant comeback as we were able to cut the deficit to seven and have a chance at the end. There was a bad charge call and we missed a three-point shot when we were down by five. Overall, I have to give Middle Tennessee lots of credit and they are a very good team. I am really proud of what our seniors have done this year, but this is a bitter way for the year to end. 48 hours ago we were on an eight-hour bus ride from Memphis to Huntington, W.Va., and then we turned around and drove six hours here to Murfreesboro. I have probably played enough games in the state of Tennessee that I am a registered voter now. I am very proud of our group and the totality of our season. This is a hard way for it to end, but the totality of our season speaks for itself."
On Marshall's energy to begin the game ...
"You have to give them credit. I am not a person who makes excuses, but obviously they looked fresher, sharper and quicker to the ball at the beginning of the game. We didn't settle in until late in the game, and I was proud of the run we made to get back in the game. Playing from that far behind forced us to expend lots of energy, and since we did not have much energy to begin with, we just didn't have enough at the end."
On the role the crowd played ...
"I thought it was a very good crowd. No disrespect, but we played at places like Syracuse, Memphis and Cincinnati this year. I don't think the crowd had as much to do with the outcome as the way they played did. It obviously helps the home team when the crowd gets loud, but we were not worried about the crowd with some of the environments that we have been fortunate to play in."
On Marshall's defense ...
"We were porous and simply horrible defensively. They out-rebounded us by two and we are third or fourth in the country in rebounding margin. They also shot 52 percent tonight. They have shot a high percentage all season and have been very efficient all season and they were again tonight. They had 23 assists on 33 baskets tonight. You have to give credit to Middle Tennessee. I am proud of our team and what we did over the course of the season. The totality of our season speaks for itself.
Forward Dennis Tinnon
On the beginning of the game ...
"They came out with lots of energy. You could tell that they were focused and ready to get the job done. We gave up lots of easy buckets, especially down low, which hurt us."
On Marshall's comeback ...
"We never give up. We are a tough team and have been down like that before and we just kept fighting to get back in the game."
Guard Damier Pitts
On Marshall's comeback ...
"The whole game, we just kept fighting and fighting. We eventually were able to cut the deficit to five, but we missed an open three-point shot that broke our momentum a bit."
MTSU HEAD COACH KERMIT DAVIS (Opening Comments): We had a lot of respect for Marshall going in. Their RPI was the best of any team not in the NCAA. For 33 or 34 minutes, we played about as good as we've played all year. We rebounded the ball well. They are a really good offensive team, they competed their tail off, and made some tough shots down the stretch. But I am proud of our players. The rebounding was the key. We out-rebounded them by two, and they are a great rebounding team. It was a really, really big win over a quality team.
(On the crowd and the atmosphere): It was terrific. I thought that crowd was electric from the start, and we needed them the whole way. They have been like that all year, and were a big part of us finishing 15-1 at home.
It feels good to be a part of the first team to win in the post-season since 1989. It was good to be here, and to get a win, especially in front of that enthusiastic crowd.
I got asked a lot about the mood of our team this week. Last Monday, we were hurting. We watched the tape while we were still in Hot Springs, so it started there. On Tuesday, the staff did a good job of uplifting them. Tuesday and Wednesday there was a lot of skill development, then we got into our physical practices, and they were good. It started with LaRon Dendy. His leadership was fantastic, and JT Sulton was a much better practice player this week, and it showed.
(On UT next): We are looking forward to it. They are playing really well, they've been a great home team this year. They have wins over a lot of quality opponents. I know our team will be looking forward to playing a tough-minded, well-coached Tennessee team.
(On 23 assists on 32 buckets): We are third or fourth in the country in offensive field goal percentage, and in the top five in assists to baskets made. And that has been our identity all year. It's fun to coach and as a fan, it's fun to watch. Jimmy Oden and Bruce Massey were outstanding, 15 assists and one turnover between them. Bruce had nine rebounds, seven points. But Jimmy coming off the bench and LaRon having the game he did, I was proud for those two seniors. They really competed tonight.
LARON DENDY: It was a big win for us. We practiced hard every day, and it showed in the game. We went hard. Marshall is one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the country. I think we did a really good job today.
Coach Davis told me I had to get more physical, that I was shooting too many jump shots. I felt like he was right because he always is, so I just took it down low, and it worked out for me, and helped our team out.
JT SULTON (On his dunk that stopped Marshall's momentum when they had cut the margin to five points): It started when we go back on defense. We knew we had to get a stop because they were making some tough shots. My teammates just saw me open. I ran the floor like I always do, and I just dunked the ball.
(On opening the game strong after losing last two games): We just try to leave our past in the past and move forward. Our motto is one step at a time, and I think we did that. We had some good practices this week, and it showed up in the game.
(On the emotion of playing in the post-season): You could say it was kind of tough. It's good to be a Blue Raider, it feels good to be here, this coaching staff does a good job, and we just try to do our job as players.