Hard-hitting defense a focus for the Herd

Malcolm Walton, Contributor

The up-tempo style offense first year head coach Dan D’Antoni has implemented has generated buzz for the Marshall University men’s basketball team; however, the team is adamant that it’s not overlooking the importance of defense.

“We’re going to hit them hard with the defense,” D’Antoni said during media day in October. “You create a fast-paced game through your defense. It’s not all about offense.”

Marshall averaged 72.3 points per game last season — good enough to finish fifth in scoring in Conference USA out of the 16 teams. Despite being formidable on the offensive end, the team ended the season with an 11-22 record.

The Herd’s defensive troubles played a large factor for the losing season. Marshall finished 14th in scoring defense in C-USA.

The local media’s attention has focused primarily on D’Antoni’s new up-tempo style offense and not much has been said about what the team has done to get better defensively.

“Defense has definitely been an area of focus during the offseason,” junior power forward Jay Johnson said on media day. “We take defense very seriously on this team.”

During the last two seasons, the Herd’s defense has finished in the bottom three of the conference. The team has recorded a 24-41 record in that time.

“I think the kids will come out and play hard for this university,” D’Antoni said. “Where that’ll take us, we’ll see.”

Marshall’s first game is at 4 p.m. Nov. 8 against Concord University at the Cam Henderson Center.

Malcolm Walton can be contacted at [email protected]. edu.