Oct. 16, 2013
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall's new point guard, Kareem Canty, is nicknamed "NuNu".
Perhaps, considering the rebuilt team Canty is expected to lead on the floor, that moniker should be "NewNew".
Nine of the 14 names on Coach Tom Herrion's fourth Marshall roster haven't played a minute for the Herd, and a few others have seen minimal court time. As much as anyone - because of his position and his chance to make a major impact on this team and in Conference USA - Canty will guide these newbies.
"Workouts so far have gone great," said Canty, who will make his unofficial Henderson Center debut Thursday night for the Green & White scrimmage (women at 5:30, men at 7 p.m.). "Everybody's doing their part. No egos so far; everybody's together."
Canty sat through last season's 13-19 finish as an academic non-qualifier who was ousted from the team at the 11th hour in an NCAA eligibility ruling. To say he can't wait for the Nov. 8 opener against South Carolina would be an understatement about the measurement of 7-foot-2 center Yous Mbao's inseam.
"The Green & White will be really fun for me because I actually - finally - will have the crowd here get to see me play after I sat out last year," the 6-foot-1 Canty said. "I'm going to go out and have fun, do what I have to do.
"And I'm waiting for Nov. 8 ... even more excited about that than the Green & White game."
Canty is going to lead at both ends of the floor. The Harlem, N.Y., native is an aggressive on-the-ball defender and at the offensive end, primarily a distributor who will head for the hoop given the opportunity.
"A big part of leadership is me doing my part," Canty said. "When they see that, me working hard, then others will do it. You've got to work hard out here. We're trying to build something.
"On defense, if I'm playing defense, I can get everybody else behind me to work at getting stops. The more stops we get, the more points we can get in transition. We're quicker than last year's team, and we defend better. We're going to run the floor and pressure people."
The Herd returns only 26 percent of its scoring and 16 percent of its rebounding from 2012-13, and a testy non-conference schedule that includes Vanderbilt, South Carolina, West Virginia, Penn State and Akron will prepare Marshall for 16-team C-USA play that includes eight new clubs.
Without the bigs Marshall had in multiples last season, Canty said the team has a couple of areas in which he feels improvement is still needed in the three weeks before the season opener at "The Cam."
"I still think we need to share the ball a little more and improve our rebounding a little more, that's it," he said. "We do a lot of drills for rebounding, and we've worked a lot on screening, moving, getting people open, not just having the ball stick in one person's hand and the others watching him."
Canty was asked which of his teammates has surprised him the most in drills that started Sept. 27. His answer was the team's most familiar name and top returning player.
"Elijah (Pittman, senior forward) comes in and brings it every day," Canty said. "No attitude, no selfishness. It's his last year and he really wants to win. Last year is history with him."
Herrion's practices are usually three hours in length, high intensity, not much wasted energy. Canty said the Herd has responded better than the point guard expected.
"To be honest, what's actually surprised me is practice every day," Canty said. "People want to practice, all of us, every day. And that actually surprises me that everyone every day is like that, every time I come in."
The rookie point guard said not much in the way of motivational tactics is needed from Herrion. The Herd has been picked by most preseason polls somewhere in the middle of C-USA's 16 teams.
"I think the way practice has been has a lot to do with what happened last year, and has a lot to do with the expectations that people don't have for us this season," Canty said. "So, we really want to come and bring it every day, every night we're out here.
"We don't talk about it; we don't have to. We know what we want to do and what we're going to do."