Other basketball news was not so good on Thursday. According to a published report in Friday's Huntington Herald-Dispatch,junior college transfer Chris Williams will not be eligible for the 2005-06 season. Williams is a 6-2, 200 pound guard who averaged 18.2 points/six rebounds/3.4 assists/1.6 steals per game at Fullerton College in California. He is the second recruit to not be eligible for MU this season, joining non-qualifier Darryl Merthie, a true freshman from Florida.
The trend of a tough schedule continues for the Thundering Herd. Last season, Marshall's strength of schedule was the 41st toughest schedule in the nation, according to RPIRatings.com, the toughest in the Mid-American Conference and the strongest among the 12 teams competing in the new Conference USA. In 2003-04, Marshall had the strongest competition in the Mid-American Conference and the 79th toughest schedule in the country.
"Our 2005-06 schedule is tough, challenging, and very attractive for our fans," said Jirsa. "Our home schedule this year, with these C-USA games, is one of the best in college basketball."
After two exhibition games against West Liberty State and Glenville State on the first two Saturdays in November, the Herd hits the road for three out of its first four games to start the 2005-06 regular season, with games at Evansville (11/18), Virginia Tech (11/21), and East Tennessee State (11/28). A home game with Evansville is squeezed in between the three games and is set for Saturday, November 26th.
The month of December has Marshall not leaving the friendly confines of the Henderson Center until a tournament at Furman University on December 29th and 30th, when the Herd takes on South Carolina State and host Furman. Other games in December in Huntington include Maryland-Eastern Shore (12/1), Youngstown State (12/4), Appalachian State (12/17), and Charleston Southern (12/20).
In January, Marshall travels to Boone, N.C., for a game with Appalachian State on January 4th, and then returns home to take on NCAA Tournament participant and 2005 Atlantic 10 Champions George Washington on Saturday, January 7th. Marshall's last non-conference game of the 2005-06 regular season is a match-up with Elite Eight participant West Virginia in Charleston, W.Va., at the Toyota Capital Classic on Wednesday, January 25th. The annual double-header pits the MU women's team versus the WNIT finalists in 2005 from WVU, with the men's teams playing after the women's game. MU swept the two games for the first time since the series moved to the Charleston Civic Center for both men's and women's basketball's match-up of West Virginia's two Division I Universities.
Marshall forward Mark Patton would love to celebrate with Herd fans again with another double-header win over the Mountaineers at the Toyota Capital City Classic in 2006.
Marshall's Conference USA schedule begins with a trip to UCF on January 11th. The Golden Knights are one of three conference teams the Herd will play twice during the 2005-06 campaign. East Carolina and UAB are the other two teams that Marshall will play both home and away.
The rest of January has Marshall at home with NCAA Tournament teams UAB (1/14) and UTEP (1/21), and on the road at Tulsa (1/18) and at Houston (1/28). A home date with East Carolina (2/1) begins the month of February, with a trip to Tulane (2/4) following the date with the Pirates. Other games in February are at home against Rice (2/8), Memphis (2/11), and Southern Miss (2/25), and on the road at SMU (2/15) and East Carolina (2/18). The Herd closes the regular season in March with a home game with UCF (3/1) and a road tilt with UAB (3/4). The 2006 Kelly Tires Conference USA Men's Basketball Tournament will take place in Memphis at Fed Ex Forum from March 8th-11th.
Marshall has faced off against eight of the 12 teams in the new Conference USA, and has compiled an all-time record of 9-5 against those teams. Marshall has played East Carolina and Southern Miss more than any of the other C-USA schools, going head-to-head with the Pirates and Golden Eagles four times during the Herd's basketball history (going 3-1 against each school). Marshall's most recent game against a Conference USA school came last year in Huntington, when the Herd dropped a tough 81-78 decision in the Henderson Center to UAB. The Blazers' trip to the Henderson Center was the back end of a home-and-home agreement, with the Herd taking a 68-66 win in Birmingham on December 30th, 2003. Marshall is 1-1 against UAB, 0-1 against Houston, 1-1 against Memphis, and 1-0 against UTEP, and has never faced Rice, SMU, Tulane, Tulas, or UCF on the hardwood.
2005-06 Men's Basketball Schedule (All Times TBD) Sat., 11/5 West Liberty State (exhibition)
Sat., 11/12 Glenville State (exhibition)
Fri., 11/18 at Evansville, Evansville, Ind.
Mon., 11/21 at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.
Sat., 11/26 Evansville
Mon., 11/28 at East Tennessee State, Johnson City, Tenn.
Thurs., 12/1 Maryland-Eastern Shore
Sun., 12/4 Youngstown State
Sat., 12/17 Appalachian State
Tues., 12/20 Charleston Southern
Thurs., 12/29 South Carolina State+
Fri., 12/30 at Furman Christmas Tournament, Greenville, S.C.
Wed., 1/4 at Appalachian State, Boone, N.C.
Sat., 1/7 George Washington
Wed., 1/11 at UCF*, Orlando, Fla.
Sat., 1/14 UAB*
Wed., 1/18 at Tulsa*, Tulsa, Okla.
Sat., 1/21 UTEP*
Wed., 1/25 West Virginia-Toyota Capital City Classic, Charleston (WV) Civic Center (men-8:00 p.m.; women-5:30 p.m.)
Sat., 1/28 at Houston*, Houston, Tex.
Wed., 2/1 East Carolina*
Sat., 2/4 at Tulane*, New Orleans, La.
Wed., 2/8 Rice*
Sat., 2/11 Memphis*
Wed., 2/15 at SMU*, Dallas, Tex.
Sat., 2/18 at East Carolina*, Greenville, N.C.
Sat., 2/25 Southern Miss*
Wed., 3/1 UCF*
Sat., 3/4 at UAB*, Birmingham, Ala.
Wed., 3/8-3/11 at 2006 Kelly Tires Conference USA Men's Basketball Tournament, Memphis, Tenn.