July 9, 2012
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – What’s in a number?
DeAndre Kane said, “It means a lot.”
When the Marshall men’s basketball star takes the floor as a junior in the 2012-13 season, there will be something different about the Thundering Herd’s top returning scorer.
It will be his uniform number. The shooting guard is switching from 24 to 50, for a very special reason.
“I want to honor my dad,” Kane said.
Calvin Kane died on Feb. 7 in Pittsburgh. His college basketball-playing son flew home for his father’s last hours, then flew to Orlando, Fla., for a midweek Herd date with UCF, then returned to the Steel City for the funeral and missed Marshall’s home game with East Carolina.
The younger Kane won a Pennsylvania state title in 2007 at Schenley High. His father did the same in 1978.
“I’m switching from 24,” Kane said. “When I was in high school, I had No. 2, but Kobe Bryant is my favorite player, so I switched mine to his 24, and ever since then I’ve been rockin’ out with it.
“But since my dad passed, I wanted to pay tribute to him, make him proud. So, I’m switching to 50. He would have turned 50 in a month after he died. I just wanted to let him know in some way that I’m playing for him and I love him. I’ve got it on my chest and on my back. He is my hero.”
It wasn’t as simple as going to MU basketball equipment man Zac Littleton or Coach Tom Herrion about the switch. Backup big man J.P. Kambola played last season as a freshman in No. 50 (and has since switched to 31 himself). Kane asked if he could have the number, and told Kambola the reason.
“He’s my teammate. J.P. didn’t mind at all,” said Kane, who averaged 16.5 points per game last season and became the school’s 49th career 1,000-point scorer. “He said no problem. I told him it was for my dad.”
The new No. 24 is junior college signee Elijah Pittman. The big man apparently was going to get the number even if Kane didn’t pick 50 for fatherly tribute reasons.
“I promised Pittman 24 anyway (when he was being recruited), told him I’d give it to him,” Kane said. “I wasn’t even thinking much about it then, switching my number before my dad passed, but it all worked out for the best.”
Besides Pittman, the other 2012-13 newcomers’ numbers are 12 (Kareem Canty), 15 (DeVince Boykins, who redshirted last season), 21 (Ryan Taylor), 23 (D.D. Scarver, wearing Shaquille Johnson’s number of the last four seasons) and 32 (Tamron Manning).
The No. 10 worn by graduated Dago Pena goes into Herd history. It was retired for former star Mike D’Antoni, but Pena was allowed to wear the number until his career ended, when it was retired.
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Kane received some prominent mention a couple of weeks ago, when The Sports Network published what it called “an early list of top shooting guards for 2012-13.
The Herd star was the fifth guard mentioned, after C.J. McCollum of Lehigh, San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin, Drew Crawford of Northwestern and Florida State’s Michael Snaer. Below Kane on the 12-player list were Duke’s Seth Curry, Pitt’s Trey Zeigler and Rodney McGruder of Kansas State.
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The new Division I men’s basketball summer recruiting calendar kicks in this week, with coaches permitted to go on the road from Wednesday at 5 p.m. through Sunday at 5 p.m. for three consecutive weeks.
Marshall will double-team sites, Herrion said. The head coach will go from Philadelphia to Indianapolis to St. Louis during those days. Assistant Mark Cline will take in Indy and St. Louis, while assistant Dino Presle goes to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, the Herd players will start practicing in NCAA-permitted team workouts of two hours each week. Herrion said the Herd will have 30 minutes of skills work on Mondays and Thursday and practice one hour as a team on Tuesday afternoons.