WATCH: Marshall Postgame At The Podium
SAN DIEGO — After a brief adjustment, West Virginia’s press overwhelmed Marshall’s freewheeling offense in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Herd hit three of their first four 3-point attempts to take an early 9-2 lead, but the Mountaineers then switched to a diamond and one look that didn’t trap as aggressively on the front end. That slowed the Herd’s fast pace and kept them from many of the open looks they usually get.
” I think their physicality got to us a little bit,” Marshall guard Jon Elmore admitted. “They got quick hands, handshake, ride you up the floor. They defend, trap, run all different kinds of guys at you. They’re versatile.”
The Mountaineers were focused on not letting Elmore, and outstanding sniper who can score from any range, beat them. While the tactics were different, that was the same strategy the Mountaineers employed against Murray State guard Jonathan Stark two nights previously. The goal was to keep the ball out of his hands and force someone else to carry the scoring load, and again that was the result WVU got. Elmore was limited to 15 points on 4-12 shooting and had eight turnovers. He had just three points in the game’s first 25 minutes, and by the time he made his second three of the night, Marshall trailed by 25.
West Virginia’s press also forced Marshall to pass the ball sideways as much as it did forward, and limited the usually hard charging Herd from driving the ball freely through the midcourt to set up lane penetration and kickouts. Some of that was due to the way in which West Virginia hung back a bit in the initial stages of the press, but some was also due to a lack of ball movement from Marshall. Head coach Dan D’Antoni had highlighted that as a key to his team’s success in the Saturday press conference prior to the game, and he didn’t get what he wanted.
” Well, our ball movement wasn’t good enough. We weren’t cutting hard enough. [Against] some teams you can kind of jog over to where you want to be. Can’t do that with [West Virginia] . This team you have to sprint every second all the time. I think what we learned is that in order to get ball movement you have to space faster. We were too slow. We were coming up into the play and really got into space and when we did we stood and watched the ball instead of making strong cuts and moves against a team that’s not going to let you set up. You’re not going to set up and run offense against [West Virginia] , especially the way they played tonight because it was a full press the whole time.”