After Marshall game, Mountaineers gird for Big 12 schedule
The annual West Virginia vs. Marshall scuffle was played last night in Charleston. Through the years — lean or prosperous — the Mountaineers have found little inspiration when seeing the Thundering Herd. On the other hand, Marshall sees an opportunity to impress the state with the televised game against the school most of those people living outside the southwest corner of the Mountain State, Charleston and towns along the Ohio River align themselves with and are partial to.
West Virginia is 8-1 so far this season with the loss being to Virginia. Marshall lost its first six games before beating Eastern Illinois and Eastern Kentucky and playing North Carolina Central on Monday.
Marshall and most of its followers see the game as David against Goliath and take for granted the players will compete with a tenacity usually seen in small hunting dogs.
Since only one of the players in Coach Bob Huggins rotation is from the state, West Virginia mostly views the game as another warmup for conference play.
The Thundering Herd is coached by Mullens native, Dan D’Antoni, and one of his assistants is Mark Cline, who played at Williamson High before going on to Wake Forest. Those two have a stronger feeling for the matchup of the state’s only two Division I schools.
The Mountaineers, with by far the longer and more effective bench, will press the Thundering Herd.
D’Antoni and his staff know what’s coming. He will try to bring his crew to an emotional level his players haven’t reached this season.
Marshall has Stevie Browning from Logan High and Fairmont State in its lineup. It also has C.J. Burks from Hedgesville High in its usual player rotation. Burks couldn’t play last season because his pre-Marshall grades didn’t allow him to be eligible.
The other Marshall regulars are James Kelly, Ryan Taylor and Austin Loop.
D’Antoni will need more than six or seven faces in order to do enough against the West Virginia pressure.
West Virginia has blasted most of its opponents, including a comfortable win over James Madison, a team that Marshall has already lost two games against. The Dukes defeated Marshall in Harrisonburg, Virginia by the tune of 107-84.
In its recent loss to Virginia in New York City, the Mountaineers scored 18 points in the second half where they made only six field goals. In its last game, the Mountaineers waxed Louisiana-Monroe in the Coliseum.
Attitude and emotion are always cast in major roles when WVU sees Marshall.
There is no loss of words exchanged between the players and clashes with body against opposition body often take place.
Under Huggins, West Virginia leaves Charleston with a win and only a few bruises to undermine its success. Marshall goes back the short distance to Huntington and has its Conference-USA schedule in front of it.
Last night’s game was strikingly similar to most of the other matches between the teams.
And if West Virginia won, will be long forgotten when late February and March come around.