Hop on the Bus, Gus: Northern Exposure Good for Herd Hoops|
July 25, 2013
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON - Tom Herrion has his Marshall men's basketball team pointed north in more ways than one.
Herrion will get his fourth season at MU off to an early exhibition start, leading the Thundering Herd on a five-game trip to Canada next month.
The plan is for a six- or seven-day journey for a team that's in a makeover following a 13-19 season, with plenty of new faces who will play as teammates for the first time.
Marshall will bus to Detroit and head into Canada via the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, then play two games in that city, including one against the University of Windsor. The Herd will then head through London toward Toronto, and wrap up the trip there.
There's another selling point for the Herd program in the foreign trip, too.
"As important as these games are for us as a team, the 10 days of practice we're allowed leading up to it will be a big plus for us," Herrion said.
The NCAA allows teams making foreign trips to hold 10 full-team practices at home before a tour. Herrion said the 10 workouts will be spread between Aug. 1-15, before the Herd heads north.
"We're doing the entire trip by bus," Herrion said. "The conclusion of summer school is Aug. 16, and we'll depart that day, play a couple games in Windsor against college teams, then head toward Toronto.
"We're still buttoning some things up, but we'll play five games total, against universities and a team or two comprised of Canadian pro players that play as all-star group."
Herrion said the Herd won't be at full strength, as junior college transfer guard Justin Edmonds continues to rehab a surgically repaired knee, and graduate student center Yous Mbao recently had his left knee scoped.
"We'll go lightly and carefully with some things," Herrion said.
But the coach is anxious to see a team -- with four new junior college transfers and three players who sat out here at MU last season - mesh under full practice dates and then game conditions.
"It's a lot of basketball in six days max, and we'll work in some education experiences into it, too," said Herrion, who has was part of a foreign tour with an NCAA team when he was a Virginia assistant coach and the Cavaliers went to Europe. "We'll be back probably Thursday (Aug. 22) and then (fall semester) classes start Aug. 26.
"Something like this can be so beneficial, the bonding, camaraderie, togetherness. We won't have a big travel party, just us in a bus. Mostly I'm excited about this group being able to spend more time together, the practices are huge, but getting game experience will help us.
"Some of these guys don't have that at this level, this group in particular. We're going to rotate things, mix it up, change lineups, play a lot of guys.
"You keep score, play to win, but I have other objectives on this as a coach."
The Herd can open preseason practice Sept. 27, two weeks earlier than in the past thanks to an NCAA rule change. Teams may have 30 days of practice over six weeks, prior to their first game. Marshall is scheduled to open the 2013-14 season Nov. 8 against South Carolina State at the Cam Henderson Center.
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Meanwhile, Herrion's team as well as Herd women's basketball and volleyball are excited about the latest upgrade for the Henderson Center.
A new hardwood floor will go in the first week of September.
It's a $156,500 investment in the future, and replaces the floor on which the Herd has played basketball and volleyball for almost 15 years.
The new floor will come from Robbins Sports Surfaces in Cincinnati, the same firm that has built and designed floors for Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville, Indiana, Michigan and numerous NBA teams, including the Heat, Knicks, Cavaliers and Spurs.
Herrion credited Herd Athletic Director Mike Hamrick and his administration for making the call on the new floor now.
"It's phenomenal for us, really," Herrion said. "I'm so thankful for them addressing that. We've been talking about it the last year or two, and it had to be addressed soon, from a wear-and-tear, physical standpoint, having talked to our medical people.
"To Mike's credit, it's getting done. People don't understand how important this is, because of how much time we spend on that surface. The one now had become outdated, and we're getting a state-of-the-art surface and maybe we'll minimize some physical ailments that could have come into play.
"Obviously, we've done a lot in the building in the short time I've been here. And for our fans, it makes it nicer, and it's another plus for our programs, too. We're really looking forward to getting that in there in early September."