Rio Grande Faces Tall Task At Marshall

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A 2-0 start has the RedStorm rolling into Huntington, W.Va., with confidence to take on the Marshall Thundering Herd. The Rio Grande men’s basketball team hits the road to take on NCAA Division I Marshall University at Cam Henderson Center at 7 p.m.

In order to control the Thundering Herd’s stampede, Rio needs another big game from its post players, as well avoidance of early foul trouble. In this contest, Rio faces its first NCAA Division I opponent since defeating Campbell University 67-65 last year, and will be a homecoming for Rio Grande head coach Ken French.

Heading into this matchup, Marshall is 14-0 in games against Rio Grande with the most recent being a 115-73 rout on Feb. 9, 2010. The Herd are also 1-0 this year with an 85-69 win over South Carolina State. Rio and Marshall have a few similarities including the fact that the RedStorm and Thundering Herd each have nine newcomers on their respective teams. One of those new faces for Marshall is freshman Ryan Taylor who has had a double-double in each of Marshall’s first two wins. To slow down Taylor, the RedStorm need to play physical and smart basketball. After a big game from Bilal Young and D.D. Joiner in the first game against Miami-Hamilton, these two players ran into early foul trouble erring on the side of physicality and combined for only five points in Rio’s 83-73 win over Indiana-Kokomo.

Luckily for Rio, transfer Phillip Hertz stepped up in a major way for the RedStorm scoring a game-high 27 points. Center Sterling Smoak added 10 points of his own.

“We’ve got a much more balanced offense this year with different guys stepping up,” French said. “We’ll need team-oriented play all year, and that team chemistry will be helpful especially against Marshall.”

Although the RedStorm start the season 2-0, the wins mean nothing when they travel to take on the Thundering Herd.

“We’re really going to find out a lot about ourselves in this game because it’s the first road trip of the season, and it’s against a quality Division I opponent,” French said.

This game against Marshall is also a homecoming for French who grew up in Huntington. French coached high school basketball in the area and is familiar with Marshall Basketball.

“I grew up watching [Marshall] play back when fans would pack the Houston Center,” French said. “It’s big getting to go back. There’s some people I haven’t seen in a while, so it’ll be nice. But at the same time it’s still business because we have a basketball game to play and that’s what I’ll be focused on.”

The RedStorm look to give their head coach a happy homecoming by picking up their first win ever against Marshall. In order to do so, Rio needs a balanced offensive attack with several players scoring in double digits. Staying out of foul trouble and playing as a team are key in this matchup as the RedStorm hope to stay undeafeated.