Dec. 2, 2012
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON - Finally, Kane was able.
In an unexpected struggle with offensively-challenged UNC Wilmington, Marshall needed what it hadn't been getting Saturday night at the Henderson Center.
The Thundering Herd needed DeAndre Kane to make a free throw ... at least one. And with Coach Tom Herrion's team trailing 58-57 with 21.1 seconds to play, the 5,689 in the hoops house were restless after officials checked the replay monitor and sent Kane to the stripe.
"I just had to knock them down," Kane said afterward.
Easier said than done.
In back-to-back home wins over Nevada and Morehead State and the first 39:39 against the Seahawks, the junior guard was a combined 9-of-30 at the line. He was 3-of-7 on the night ... until the Herd needed them most.
The junior from Pittsburgh made two in a row, then put an exclamation point on a 61-58 victory when he flicked away Craig Ponder's dribble-drive toward what could have been a game-winning hoop for UNCW (3-4). D.D. Scarver's two free throws capped the victory for the Herd (5-3).
"I thought he was going to the bucket," Kane said of Ponder, the former Bluefield High All-Stater who entered the game with 23 points this season and left with 49. "He had 26 points, so I wouldn't blame him for going to the bucket.
"I'd be going to the bucket. Fortunately, I got my hand on the ball and knocked it away."
Fortunately for Kane and the Herd, his struggles with marksmanship from the floor and at the stripe haven't affected other parts of his game. He has run Herrion's offense well as the point guard. He has defended better than in past years. And he hasn't forced many shots, either.
Kane is shooting only a .354 percentage from the field (including .166 behind the arc) and is just 30-of-63 at the line. However, he finished with a team-high 216 points to go with five assists and four steals as Marshall avoided a second loss this season to a Colonial Athletic Association team.
Kane's five assists pushed him to 304 in his MU career, making him only the fifth Herd player with more than 1,200 points and more than 300 assists (Mike D'Antoni, Skip Henderson, Damier Pitts, Travis Young). Kane played 37 minutes, and his 38.2 minutes per game average ranks seventh nationally in Division I.
"It's like a mental thing," the 6-foot-4 guard said of his free throw misadventures. "I let the crowd and everybody get to my head, and I've got a lot of people telling me what to do at the line. I've just got to go up there and knock them down.
"When I was in high school and prep school, I probably made 96 percent at the free throw line ... I got here and there are a lot of things to adjust to, the (lifting) weights. But that's no excuse. I've just got to get up there and knock them down."
Asked what he did differently on the final two makes, Kane shook his head side-to-side, and shrugged.
"I shot them the same. I really did," he said. "A little bit more arc. A lot of them I miss, they're not bad misses, way left or way right, they're just short, or long... mostly short.
"I got up there and bent my knees and put a little more arc on it. I've been shooting lot of free throws every day after practice, 100 maybe. (His teammates) give me help, but they tell me the release, everything's perfect.
"It's just about me just making free throws. Everything's mental. I'm bending my knees, flicking my wrist. Just different things. I've tried a lot of ways."
Kane's 16 points made him the 31st player in Herd history to score 1,200 points (1,201). The Herd took advantage of its size for a 39-30 rebounding edge, and center Nigel Spikes produced a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
However, the Herd struggled against a team that came into the game ranked 339th among 347 Division I teams in points per game (53.7), and the Seahawks got only 19 minutes from their best player, forward Keith Rendlemen due to foul trouble. Coach Buzz Peterson's team, now 0-4 on the road, previously had been blistered by 43 at Richmond, 38 at Ohio and 26 at Purdue.
The Herd was whistled for only 10 personals to 26 for UNCW, which was 3-of-6 at the stripe to Marshall's 16-of-26.
Marshall started the game 7-of-8 in the game's first 8:30, then made 13-of-37 the rest of the way to finish at 36.4 percent after a 33.3 night in Wednesday's 70-67 win over neighboring Morehead State.
Herrion also got only one field goal (three points), three rebounds and two assists from four off-the-bench players in 39 minutes.
Next up for the Herd is Wednesday night's trip to the Charleston Civic Center for the Capital Classic against West Virginia (2-3).
"Everything's not clicking yet," Kane said. "It's tough for us right now. We lost Yous (Mbao) and big Rob (Goff, who returned from their head collision and serious injury in a Nov. 20 practice to play 12 minutes). We've got people playing different positions. Practices haven't been the same.
"We can score the ball. Our offense right now is struggling; it will come. Our main focus right now is defense. We're stopping guys, last year we were last in the conference (USA) in defense.
"We know we can score the ball. We're athletic, we're fast, we're big, so we need to keep playing defense and the offense will come."