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Marshall Thundering Herd
Marshall Thundering Herd
School Name: Marshall University
Location: Huntington, West Virginia
Arena: Cam Henderson Center
Capacity: 9,600
Conference: Conference USA
Head coach: Tom Herrion

The Marshall Thundering Herd men's basketball team is a basketball team from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia

New head coach Tom Herrion will lead the Thundering Herd starting the 2010 season.

Marshall has advanced to the NCAA Tournament five times through the years. The Thundering Herd has also played in the NIT in 1967-1968-1973-1988. Marshall won the NAIA National Championship in 1947, and is 7-2 all-time in the first collegiate basketball tournament, one year older than the NIT and four years older than the NCAA Tournament.

Notable former Marshall basketball players include NBA and Marshall Hall of Famer Hal Greer who was named as one of the NBA's 50 best players of all time. Greer was selected to 10 consecutive NBA All-Star games. Also from Marshall were Mike D'Antoni, formerly of the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns (NBA Coach of the Year for 2004-05) and now the new head coach of the New York Knicks. Greer was named NBA All-Star Game MVP in 1968, one year after leading the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA title.

History

Cam Henderson Era

The legendary coach of the Thundering Herd was Cam Henderson. Henderson, acknowledged as the creator of the modern fast-break and zone defense, won 358 games against just 158 losses between 1935–1955. Henderson led Marshall to three consecutive Buckeye Conference titles from 1936–39, but his greatest team was the 1946–47 team. They set a Marshall school record with 32 wins in a season; a 17–0 start to the season; a 35-game home winning streak; and won the National Championship in the National Association for Intercollegiate Basketball (today's NAIA) in Kansas City in 1947, sweeping five games in six days. Marshall also played in the NAIB Tournament in 1938 and 1948, losing in the quarterfinals. His 1947–48 team won the Helms Foundation Los Angeles Invitational with a 46–44 win over Syracuse, the same year Henderson coached the Marshall football team to the second-ever Tangerine Bowl.

Andy Tonkovich, who played on that team, was the first draft pick of the 1948 BAA Draft by Providence. Center Charlie Slack set a still NCAA record of 25.6 rebounds per game for Henderson's final team in 1954–55. Tonkovich, Gene "Goose" James, Bill Hall were First Team NAIB All-Americans in 1947, joined by Bill Toothman on the second team and Marvin Gutshall on honorable mention, meaning all five starters were on the All-American team. Tonkovich repeated on the second team in 1948. Walt Walowac was a first team Helms Foundation Small College All-American for Henderson in 1953, and was third team on the Helms squad in 1954.

Henderson recorded wins over such marquee programs as Syracuse, Virginia, Memphis, Virginia Tech, Pepperdine, Xavier, Dayton, Louisville (No. 19 in the nation in 1950, a 96–72 Marshall win), Indiana State (Henderson was 2–1 versus John Wooden, when the UCLA legend was coaching the Sycamores), BYU, Idaho, Hawaii, Cincinnati, Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Loyola, Maryland, Miami-Fla., Denver, St. Francis, Wichita State, Colorado, Cal, CCNY, Long Island Univ., South Carolina and St. Louis. His 1954-55 team was second in the Mid-American Conference, but was denied a berth in the NIT by the league (in the wake of the cheating scandals in New York and other college spots in the early 1950s.

Henderson's first basketball All-American, Jule Rivlin, led the 1955–56 Herd to its only MAC title and first-ever NCAA Tournament. Rivlin's 1958 Herd led the nation in scoring, with Hal Greer and Leo Byrd, scoring 88.1 points per game and topping the Jerry West-led Mountaineers of West Virginia University who averaged 88.0 points per game. Byrd was an All-American in 1959, first team on the Chuck Taylor/Converse team and second team on UPI and Helms Foundation. Henderson and Tonkovich are both members of the Helms Foundation NAIA Hall of Fame.

Ellis Johnson Era

Marshall was coached to the NIT by Ellis Johnson (the first All-American for legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp) in 1967, advancing to the Final Four thanks in part to George Stone scoring 46 points versus Nebraska before his five-years in the ABA, and back in 1968 behind point guard Danny D'Antoni.

Carl Tacy Era

Carl Tacy coached the Herd to a 23–4 season in 1971–72, losing to Southwest Louisiana, 112–101 in the NCAA Tournament. Marshall was ranked at high at No. 8 in the nation that season, and finished 12th in the nation. Russell Lee was a Converse All-American in 1972, and was selected in the first round of the ABA Draft and second round by the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA, playing for that team for a couple of seasons.

Bob Daniels Era

Bob Daniels was the Herd coach beginning in the 1972–73 season for the NIT appearance. Mike D'Antoni was the point guard for the NCAA Tournament team in 1972 and the NIT team in 1973, and was a CoSIDA Academic All-American both seasons and awarded an NCAA post-graduate scholarship. He was drafted by the Royals, played four seasons in the NBA before moving to greater glory in the Italian League, winning titles as a player and coach. Kobe Bryant wore No. 8 his first few seasons in the NBA because that's the number D'Antoni wore when he played with Kobe's father in Italy.

Rick Huckabay Era

Rick Huckabay led Marshall to four Southern Conference titles, three NCAA Tournaments and an NIT berth from 1983-89. John Taft and Skip Henderson were both recruited by Huckabay and are one-two in scoring at Marshall all-time.

Billy Donovan Era

University of Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan coached the Thundering Herd from 1994–96. West Virginia native Jason Williams started his college career at Marshall after originally signing with Providence, being part of the Herd basketball team for two seasons (sitting out one as a transfer) for the Thundering Herd before transferring to Florida to play a season for Donovan. Donnie Jones was an assistant for first Dwight Freeman, then Donovan at Marshall and followed Donovan to UF as an assistant until taking the Marshall job in 2007 after the Gators won back-to-back NCAA Titles. Other assistants from the Florida/Marshall pipeline included Anthony Grant, who was head coach at VCU, now coaching at Alabama, and John Pelphrey, formerly head coach of South Alabama and current second-year head coach at Arkansas.

Greg White Era

Keith Veney set an NCAA record with 15 three-pointers in Marshall's Henderson Center arena against Morehead State University on December 14, 1996, for new head coach Greg White, who was Marshall's point guard from 1977–81. White followed in the great Marshall tradition of outstanding players from the Mullens, WV, area including both Mike and Danny D'Antoni and their uncle, Andy D'Antoni, a Marshall quarterback for Henderson in 1938–40.

White's freshman team advanced to the school's first conference title game in 1978, falling to Furman in the title game under charismatic coach Stu Aberdeen. Bob Zuffelato took the Herd to the SC finals in 1979-80, falling again to Furman, after Aberdeen died during the summer of 1979 while on vacation. White's senior season saw Marshall post its first-ever win over West Virginia University at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, WV. Marshall won the first game played in Huntington in 1982–83 and was 5–0 versus the Mountaineers in Huntington before the series moved permanently to the Charleston Civic Center in the state capital.

White coached his first Marshall team to its final SC Tournament title game in 1996–97, falling to UT-Chattanooga on a last-second stick-back. Marshall joined the Mid-American Conference for the second time in 1997–98, and the Herd was 21-9 in 1999-2000 under White, falling the MAC semi-finals to Miami, Ohio. Ron Jirsa coached Marshall from 2003–07 after White stepped down to become head coach at Division II University of Charleston (W.Va.), as well as a special assistant to the President of UC. He is currently overseeing a new basketball building for the Golden Eagles.

Donnie Jones Era

Before Donnie Jones came to coach Marshall from 2007-2010, he was an assistant with the Florida Gators for 11 years and helped Billy Donovan coach the Gators to consecutive national championships in 2006 and 2007. Jones got Marshall to a winning record for the first time since 2001 with a 16–14 mark in his first season

In 2010, Jones coached Marshall to the CIT, which was their first post-season tournament since 1988. Marshall fell to Appalachian State in the CIT quarterfinals.

Following the 2010 season, and amid growing fan concern over Marshall's performance in the 2010 CUSA and CIT tournament, Donnie Jones left Marshall to coach conference rival UCF. Considering Jones' success at Marshall and his local ties to the Huntington area, many Marshall fans considered his departure a betrayal, further fueling the Marshall-UCF rivalry.

NCAA Tournament results

Marshall has been to the tournament five times. Their combined record is 0–5.

Year Seed Round Opponent Result/Score
1956 N/A First Round Morehead State L 107–92
1972 N/A First Round Southwestern Louisiana L 112–101
1984 #10 First Round #7 Villanova L 84–72
1985 #15 First Round #2 Virginia Commonwealth L 81–65
1987 #13 First Round #4 TCU L 76–60
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