Thursday January 17, 2008
Herd wants to be like Memphis
by Chuck Landon
Daily Mail sportswriter
HUNTINGTON -- No offense to the other 10 Conference USA members, but there is only one league basketball program that Marshall wants to emulate.
The Tigers are C-USA's marquee team - regardless of sports - and are the team to beat on a perennial basis. They have national respect, a national reputation, a nationally known coach in John Calipari and are a fixture in the NCAA Tournament.
Simply stated, MU wants what Memphis has.
"I think so," said Marshall first-year Coach Donnie Jones. "We want to be as good as we can be. Are we going to be able to get top 10 players in the country like he's (Calipari) getting? Probably not. I don't know if we are going to be able to draw that. He has earned that over time with his winning and his reputation.
"But I think we can get players that can compete with them. That's what we've got to get. But it's going to take some time. We have to prove ourselves here. We have to get some guys in here and get some classes together and get some guys who set their goals ... I don't know if this team, this program has set their goals high enough to compete.
"This is their third year in the league and they're still trying to figure out what kind of talent we've got to have to compete in our league. Right now, Memphis is competing for a national championship, not just for the league.
"I think for us right now, we've got to get five or six guys and keep building on it with some depth to where you can compete night-in and night-out."
Although the crawling Herd must walk before it can make a run at Memphis, the Tigers' home atop Conference USA still is Marshall's dream destination.
"That's where we want to get to," said Jones. "We have to recruit better and add some new players in. We're going to do that. Help is on the way. That's where we've got to get to and it's not going to happen overnight. We didn't get to where we are overnight, so it's not going to change overnight.
"We've got to keep working and understand that we expect to compete. We want to win."
More importantly, the Herd wants to win its way. Marshall isn't looking to recruit the same players Memphis does or run the same offenses or defenses. The Herd doesn't want to be a basketball clone of Memphis, it simply wants to use the Tiger program as a blueprint.