By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Elijah Pittman is the de facto elder statesman on Marshall’s men’s basketball team. He’s the only returning starter from last year’s team and one of only five holdovers on the 14-man roster so, like it or not, the role of leader falls on him.
Through one game, that doesn’t appear to be a problem.
Pittman, who scored 31 points in last Friday’s 85-69 season-opening win over South Carolina State, was named Conference USA’s Co-Player of the Week on Monday. He was 9 of 13 from the field, including 5 of 11 from 3-point range, and had four steals.
“My teammates kept helping me,” Pittman said after the game. “They gave me the ball. They knew I was hot, but it’s all a team thing.”
Also in double figures for the Thundering Herd were Ryan Taylor with 17 points and redshirt freshman point guard Kareem Canty with 15. Canty had five assists and turned the ball over three times, down from eight in Marshall’s exhibition win over Concord on Oct. 28.
Marshall (1-0), which hosts Rio Grande at 7 p.m. today, started slow but eventually overcame that and eventually led 73-43 late in the game. The Herd shot just 40.6 percent from the field and 63.4 at the line.
“In the first half we struggled at playing too fast and taking too many early 3s, and we shot on one touch to many times,” fourth-year head coach Tom Herrion said. “I felt like our press really wore them down in the second half, which was great for us. I feel like we really imposed our will tonight and I was so pleased with that. ... We are thrilled with the win tonight, although we have a long way to go. I am just thrilled to be 1-0 right now.”
The RedStorm is coached by Huntington native Ken French, a 1987 graduate of Buffalo-Wayne High. He is in his eighth season at Rio Grande, a NAIA Division II school.
Another connection is Rio Grande’s sports information director, Randy Payton, who used to cover Marshall as the sports editor of the Wayne County News.
Rio Grande is 2-0 after wins over Miami-Hamilton (121-72) and Indiana University-Kokomo (83-73) on its home court in the Saunders Insurance Tipoff Classic.
Phillip Hertz is averaging 24 points on a whopping 75 percent (18 of 24) shooting percentage. Four other players are averaging double figures — Bilal Young (13.5), Jermaine Warmack (12.0, 4.5 assists, 3.5 steals), D.D. Joiner (11.0) and Travis Elliot (10.5).
Jalen Harris is the team’s top rebounder at 8.5 per game.
— E-mail: gfauber@
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