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Pittman's attitude, Heater's aptitude, hoops attendance

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- TODAY'S TRIVIA question for Marshall fans, and anybody else: Are your team's attendance figures above or below the Division I average, and the median?

Answers are below. In the meantime, we shall ponder the following issues:

  • Herd basketball coach Tom Herrion made a declaration on his postgame radio interview that "I will not tolerate emotional outbursts" after Marshall's 74-63 loss Saturday at Texas-El Paso.
  • I was not in El Paso, but Herrion could have been talking about Elijah Pittman's second-half technical foul, or he could have been talking about some visible discord among his players. I'd say both.

    That guess comes from second- or third-hand info. One of my "tweeps" apparently was monitoring the UTEP broadcast (the English-language version, I would guess), and heard that Pittman was running his mouth the whole game, and some team members were yelling at each other.

    I'm not sure about all that, but I do know Pittman drew his fourth technical foul of the season with 17:29 left in the second half, part of a double technical with UTEP's Julian Washburn. I do know Pittman didn't come out immediately, and he ended up playing the most minutes (33) of all Herd players whose last names do not rhyme with "pane."

    And I do know I worry about the guy. From all I see and hear, he is at least even odds to earn a suspension by Herrion. One hopes he doesn't go the way of Justin Coleman, whose promising career was doomed by disciplinary matters.

    Pittman is a legitimate stud who has made an appearance on the ESPN SportsCenter top 10 (that nasty lean-in dunk against Cincinnati). If he simply shuts up and plays, he'll have one of the better two-year careers in MU history.

    If he doesn't, Herrion will have to shut him up.

  • Call me a flaming optimist (huh?), but the Herd (8-9, 1-1) is tied for fifth place with the longest roadie behind it. And what happened to Marshall in El Paso is not out of the ordinary.
  • In five games against the Miners in the Don Haskins Center, MU has fallen behind by an average maximum of 19 points, blowing into double digits all five times. And it gets worse: The Herd has led in a combined 16 minutes, 53 seconds in those games.

    And that all happened in first halves. The Herd has never led or even tied the Miners after halftime on the road, whether under Herrion, predecessor Donnie Jones or Ron Jirsa.

    Ouch, ouch and ouch.

  • Chuck Heater will indeed be announced today as Marshall's new defensive coordinator, and will bring his 37 years of coaching experience with him.
  • Don't ask me if it's a good hire because I'm never certain. Heater's Temple defense ranked 90th in the nation in total defense, but you can argue that the Owls faced long odds in their ascension to the Big East.

    And if Heater and boss Doc Holliday bring Steve Dunlap along, it's no fair griping about Dunlap's single-season tenure as MU's defensive coordinator. As you should recall, the greatest defensive minds in the game couldn't have saved the 2007 Herd defense.

  • Toughest tweet of coaching silly season, coming after cornerbacks coach Lytrel Pollard left for Southern Mississippi: "We had a cornerbacks coach ... Who knew?"
  • Answer to the above question: For 2011-12 season the average was 4,994, not including NCAA tournament or other neutral-site games. But the median figure among the 338 schools tallied (not counting the reclassifying schools) was 2,763.
  • That was a little eye-popping, but I am really offering that in the context of the future of Conference USA basketball. As you know, the league loses its turnstile gorilla, Memphis, which is averaging 16,031 thus far this season. (The Tigers will lead the not-so-brave new Big East, as well.)

    Texas-El Paso is a solid-but-distant second at 8,336 and Marshall - surprise! - is third at 5,408. From experience, three other schools could be ahead of the Herd in many seasons: Alabama-Birmingham, Tulsa and Central Florida. All three are down a bit, sitting below 4,500.

    (Bear in mind, all figures are likely to go up with conference play. That includes Marshall, which has four attractive Saturday dates remaining.)

    C-USA loses Memphis, Houston (3,808), Southern Methodist (3,211) and UCF (4,424) after this season. After 2013-14, the league is due to lose East Carolina (4,414) and Tulane (1,800 and likely fudged).

    The league will gain, from best to worst, Old Dominion (6,675 in a brutally down season), Charlotte (5,603), North Texas (3,439), Louisiana Tech (2,385), Texas-San Antonio (1,051) and Florida International (834) next year. The year after (or maybe earlier) will be Middle Tennessee (5,004) and Florida Atlantic (1,209).

    Some good, some middling, some really ugly. One look through those eight schools, and you'll see three good new basketball rivals for Marshall.

  • And finally, I have just one piece of advice for aspiring head coaches: Don't call timeouts to ice the kicker. Ever.
  • Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock


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