Nov. 30, 2012
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – D.D. Scarver said he wasn’t worried. Neither was Marshall Coach Tom Herrion.
Morehead State Coach Sean Woods had the right idea on how to guide the Eagles to their first basketball win in history at the Henderson Center, but his players had the wrong guy.
In a grinder – Herrion’s word – of a game Wednesday night, the Thundering Herd outlasted their I-64-traveling visitors, 70-67, when Scarver made 12 of 13 free throws, and his last 10 in the game’s final 1:17.
“I shoot 100 free throws every day after practice,” said Scarver, whose shooting night, otherwise, was forgettable. “The most I’ve made is 85. The least is 70. I thought I’d make them.”
“I knew he would make them. I didn’t feel. I knew he would make them,” Herrion said. “He’s a really good shooter. That was by design. I knew he’d make them.”
Last season at Trinity Valley Community College in Texas, D.D. – that’s short for D’aris Devante -- was an 88 percent free throw shooter.
Woods said Scarver was the wrong guy at the wrong time as far as the Eagles (4-3) were concerned, but the junior from Birmingham, Ala., kept getting the ball after a Herrion sideline move in the final minutes.
Instead of point guard DeAndre Kane getting the inbounds pass, Herrion had Kane take the ball out of bounds against the Morehead pressure, passing it to Scarver.
“Scarver did a great job down the stretch against their press defense,” Herrion said. “He’s a good catch guy. He catches and then was able to turn and go. The most important thing in those situations is getting the ball in bounds. Our best passer was taking the ball out of bounds, most times, in Kane.”
Kane, who was 3-of-14 at the stripe in last Saturday’s win over Nevada, was 3-of-9 against Morehead.
“We couldn’t get 50 (Kane) back on the line in the last three minutes of the basketball game,” Woods said. “I was trying to get Kane back on the line, but Scarver did a good job of getting open and I thought that was the key to the game down the stretch.
“Well, what you want to do is deny Scarver the ball first of all, trap him, deny him, but with his quick self, he had a way to go get it. He was tough enough to go get the ball, and his team needed that.
“So, you deny him the ball and make somebody else catch it, but we’re denying everybody else. Maybe we could have turned them over a little bit more. We didn’t do a good job of trapping without fouling. And he did what he was supposed to do, made free throws down the stretch to seal the game.”
Scarver said Herrion had told the Herd (4-3) it “needed to make free throws. They were going to be really aggressive and they were going to foul, and sometimes it might be called and sometimes not, so just keep playing and when you get to the line, knock it down.
“Coach drew it up for me to get the ball once I started knocking down my free throws, so he decided to stick with it.”
Once Marshall got into the bonus with 11:24 left in the second half, the Herd went 20-of-30 at the stripe. Once in the double bonus in the final 10:21, the Scarver-led marksmanship was 17-of-25.
The Eagles entered the game leading the nation in fouls (151 to their foes’ 92) and the differential in this game was 32-15. Marshall’s 20-point differential at the stripe (28-8) was its biggest favorable disparity under Herrion, and the largest since hitting a school-record 43-of-67 to 21-of-32 by UCF in a three-overtime Henderson Center win in February 2010.
The last time Marshall made more FTs than it did against the Eagles was in a 32-of-48 performance in a 2011 Conference USA Tournament first-round win over Houston, in El Paso, Texas.
Scarver was only 2-of-10 from the floor, including 1-of-7 from 3-point range, but that one was big, a dart from the right wing with 3:45 left that gave Marshall a 57-52 lead.
Woods said his team hoped to take advantage of the Herd’s lack of depth – only nine dressed scholarship players, while Morehead had 12 played averaging eight or more minutes per game – but the hosts’ rebounding, defense and resilience was a bit too much.
“They did what they want to do, their makeup, attack the offense glass,” the first-year Morehead coach said of the Herd. “It’s tough to have a chance on road 44-16 (free throw attempts), but a lot of that came because we gave up offensive rebounds.”
The Herd coped with the Eagles’ pressure, which Herrion called “so disruptive, so aggressive … nothing dirty … they played the hardest of any team we’ve played.”
It was only a 33.3 percent shooting night for the Herd, and it wasn’t that the MU shot selection was poor at all. But Herrion said it was the kind of game that proved a coaching point to his team -- that it can win without the solid offensive efficiency Marshall had displayed in earlier games. Dennis Tinnon had 12 points and 16 rebounds, while Nigel Spikes had 13 points to go with nine boards.
Scarver’s foul-line efficiency helped him to a game-high 17 points, and he’s averaging 14.1 in the transition from JUCO ball as the Herd next welcomes UNC Wilmington (3-3) to the Henderson Center tomorrow at 7 p.m., before meeting West Virginia (2-3) in the Capital Classic next Wednesday at the Charleston Civic Center.
“I’m making it by working hard every day,” said Scarver, who is 21-of-24 at the foul stripe this season. “The difference here (from junior college) is the game is faster, more aggressive. It’s much more physical, and out here (waving his arm), the crowds.
“We’re just starting to get it together. Coach told us Morehead would come and play hard, really hard, and we’d just have to play through it. It wasn’t pretty, but we won.”
Herrion said his team “can do that if you defend and rebound.”
And make free throws.
# # #
UNC Wilmington comes to the Henderson Center at 3-0 at home and 0-3 on the road. The Seahawks have lost at Richmond by 43, at Ohio by 38 and at Purdue by 26, with home wins over UNC Asheville by 8, over Wofford by 12 and in the last outing, by 1 over Hampton last Sunday.
WVU won at home over VMI on Wednesday night and won’t play again until the Capital Classic. The Herd is in a 11-game stretch that includes seven home games, two in Charleston and two on the road (at Kentucky, at Ohio) where team travel will take two hours or less.