Column: Cam Henderson Center is home, sweet home for Marshall


Richard Crank

Marshall guard Jon Elmore (33) drives to the basket against North Carolina Central on November 12. Elmore is one of nine players from the state of West Virginia on the team.

Home court advantage is perhaps the biggest cliché in a sportswriter’s arsenal. The Marshall University Men’s basketball team is living up to that cliché.

“You could hear the chant ‘bring on the herd, bring on the herd’ and we would all come running out,” Marshall University head coach Dan D’Antoni said at his initial press conference April 25, 2014 discussing when he played for Marshall. “That was the greatest feeling in the world.”

While that is old news, the message still stands today. D’Antoni wants to have a team capable of bring excitement and winning to Huntington but with a stress of doing things the right way on and off the court.

While the enthusiasm has increased over D’Antoni’s presence at Marshall, one of the more recognizable improvements has been home attendance. The season prior to his arrival, average home attendance was 4,713. In the two full years D’Antoni has been in charge, average attendance is above 5,000 per game. Attendance for this year, although subject to change, is 5,542.

It has been 320 days since the Thundering Herd men have lost in the Cam Henderson Center. That loss, a buzzer beater heave from almost ¾ of the court, gave Louisiana Tech the victory.

For a loss by more than one possession, the statistics led to Dec. 4, 2015. Akron, former Mid-American Conference opponent, came into the Cam and emerged with a 10-point victory. That game hinged on a 16-4 run made by the Zips in the final 10 minutes of the contest.

Since the defeat to Akron, The Thundering Herd has won 19 of 21 at home. 10 of 12 last season, with both losses coming by three points, and 9 straight wins this season, with the next three games on the schedule to be played at home.

Over the course of the streak there has been positives and negatives for the Thundering Herd. A negative that jumps out is that opponents have taken control of the game early. Southern Mississippi, the game directly after the Louisiana Tech loss, Marshall had to overcome a 23 point first half lead held by the Golden Eagles.

That led to a positive in that the game ended on a now iconic shot from Austin Loop replayed pregame at every home game this season just prior to home team player introductions.

The case with Southern Mississippi is not an isolated incident. In their first home game of 2017, against Old Dominion on January 5, The Monarchs scored the first 14 points of the game. Marshall would close the gap to four points by halftime, but the Monarchs would keep the game close, eventually requiring overtime before the Thundering Herd would pull out the win.

Over the course of this season almost all stats have a better lean at home versus away games. One of the most telling stats is margin of victory. The Thundering Herd have been winning games at home by an average score of 13.1 points per game. This is partially due to a very lopsided win over Western Carolina, a 35-point victory November 19.

The next Thundering Herd men’s basketball home game is scheduled for 6 p.m. January 21 at the Cam Henderson center. The opponent will be Western Kentucky University.

Joseph Ashley can be contacted at [email protected].