Marshal basketball all-time attendance records updated
Written by JACK BOGACZYK and WOODY WOODRUM, HI Staff on . Posted in Basketball
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Marshall University played in front of the biggest crowd to see a Marshall game in the history of the basketball program this past Saturday at Rupp Arena against the No. 23-ranked Kentucky Wildcats.
Interestingly, the 13 biggest crowds to ever see Marshall (all over 17,000) have yet to see the Thundering Herd pull out a victory against the home team, with losses to UK four times.
Marshall has also fallen to Memphis, Louisville and North Carolina, each on two occasions, and single losses to George Washington (at NABC Classic in Rupp Arena), at Syracuse last season and to Marquette (in the NIT).
The Herd did beat Clemson in front of 18,500 fans at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, in the consolation game of a packed house for UNLV versus Georgetown in the championship of the Rebel's holiday tourney in Dec. of 1983.
Marshall's biggest crowd at a win also came at Madison Square Garden in the NIT, beating Villanova in the first round of the 1967 tournament in New York City on the way to making the Final Four that season.
The biggest home crowd to see Marshall was 10,705 for a regular season Southern Conference contest on Feb. 18, 1984, Rick Huckabay's first year as coach as the Herd was marching to a Southern Conference championship and its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1972.
The best crowd at the recently demolished Veteran's Memorial Field House, home of the Herd from 1950-1981, was 7,000 to see the Herd top long-time rival Morehead State on Dec. 30, 1970, although the Louisville crowd on Feb. 1, 1978 was rumored to be over 7,100 standing room only at the facility with 6,532 seats.
Officially, the game was listed as a sellout, remembered best for the fight between the two teams during the game - Louisville never delivered on another scheduled home game due back to Marshall.
Here is the numbers, pulled together by Herd Insider Editor Jack Bogaczyk, and added to by HI Publisher Woody Woodrum:
Tom Herrion coached the Herd in front of the biggest crowd to ever see Marshall basketball last Saturday at Kentucky, as 24,271 saw the Wildcats top the Herd. (Herd Insider photo by Marcus Constantino)
Largest crowds to see Marshall men’s basketball (all crowds over 17,000 listed)
Coach Ellis Johnson (center, front) led the Herd to back-to-back NIT appearances in 1967 and 1968, including coaching Marshall to a first-round victory against Villanova as 15,357 packed into Madison Square Garden to see MU and the Wildcats. (Herd Insider file photo)
Largest crowds to see a Marshall victory
Attendance Opponent Site Date W-L
18,500 a-Clemson, Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nev. Dec. 30, 1983 W, 63-61
15,357 b-Villanova, Madison Square Garden, New York City, N.Y. March 9, 1967 W, 70-68 OT
a-UNLV Holiday Tournament, consolation game (prior to UNLV-Georgetown championship)
b-NIT first round game
c-Conference USA Tournament semifinal game
d-Delta Airlines Classic championship game
Rodney Holden (#00), playing for Coach Rick Huckabay (black suit, background) was a member of a number of Huck's teams to play in front of 10,000+ Marshall fans in the 1980s in the Cam Henderson Center. (Herd Insider file photo)
Largest home crowds to see Marshall
Att. Opponent Site Date W-L
10,705 s-The Citadel, Cam Henderson Center Feb. 18, 1984 W 85-71 (+455 standing room only, original capacity 10,250)
10,576 West Virginia, Cam Henderson Center Dec. 12, 1987 W, 82-72 (+326 standing room only)
10,502 West Virginia, Cam Henderson Center, Dec. 7, 1985 W, 64-60 (+252 standing room only)
9,036 t-UCF, Cam Henderson Center, March 5, 2011 W, 83-69
9,016 v-Ohio, Cam Henderson Center, Feb. 17, 2001 L, 71-66
Mike D'Antoni (left) and Russell Lee helped the Herd to a win over long-time rival Morehead State and played in front of 7,000 Marshall fans in the Veteran's Memorial Field House in Dec. of 1970. (Herd Insider file photo)
7,000 Morehead State Veteran’s Memorial Field House, Dec. 30, 1970 W 96-86 (+468 standing room only, capacity 6,532)
s-Southern Conference game, 1977-97
t-Conference USA game, 2005-present
v-Mid-American Conference game, 1997-2005
Opening night at the Cam Henderson Center, as the Herd beat Army to christen the new building on Nov. 27, 1981. (Herd Insider file photo)
Largest Marshall men’s home crowd average
Att. Year Record Site (Total attendance)
8,916 1985-86 14-1 at Cam Henderson Center (133,733 total)
8,799 1983-84 15-0 at Cam Henderson Center (131,992 total)
8,755 1986-87 14-1 at Cam Henderson Center (131,328 total)
8,541 1984-85 10-6 at Cam Henderson Center (136,663 total)
8,493 1987-88 14-1 at Cam Henderson Center (127,389 total)
7,845 1981-82 12-3 at Cam Henderson Center (117,680 total)
6,724 1990-91 7-6 at Cam Henderson Center (87,409 total)
6,623 1989-90 9-4 at Cam Henderson Center (86,105 total)
6,513 1994-95 9-3 at Cam Henderson Center (78,154 total)
6,501 1988-89 9-4 at Cam Henderson Center (84,509 total)
6,484 1972-73 11-1 at Veteran’s Memorial Field House (77,808 total)
Game night at the Veteran's Memorial Field House, the Home of the Herd from 1950-1981. (Herd Insider file photo)
Largest Marshall men’s home game total attendance
Attendance Year Record Site (Average attendance)
136,663 1984-85 10-6 at Cam Henderson Center (average 8,541)
133,733 1985-86 14-1 at Cam Henderson Center (average 8,916)
131,992 1983-84 15-0 at Cam Henderson Center (average 8,799)
131,328 1986-87 14-1 at Cam Henderson Center (average 8,755)
127,389 1987-88 14-1 at Cam Henderson Center (average 8,493)
117,680 1981-82 12-3 at Cam Henderson Center (average 7,845)
104,557 2011-12 13-4 at Cam Henderson Center (average 6,150)
104,143 2009-10 15-4 at Cam Henderson Center (average 5,481)
99,910 1982-83 14-2 at Cam Henderson Center (average 6,244)
99,430 2010-11 14-4 at Cam Henderson Center (average 5,524)
95,358 1971-72 14-1 at Veteran’s Memorial Field House (average 6,357)
All of these Herd basketball greats came together in Feb. of 2012 to bid goodbye to the Veteran's Memorial Field House, as a new Marshall University Veteran's Memorial Soccer complex will open for the 2013 season on the site of the former basketball building. (Herd Insider file photo)
HUNTINGTON — Kacey Preun’s goal for Marshall at this week’s Conference USA Swimming and Diving Championships may seem daunting: for every member of her team to turn in a career-best performance. But she’s confident the Herd can pull it off. “I have never before been this excited for a meet,” said Preun, a sophomore. “We are going to do amazing things, I just know it. It’s showing in our practices, both individually and in the team events. “All the hard work and the time we’ve invested this year will show up at the Conference USA meet. We know it.” The championships run from Wednesday through Saturday in Houston. Preun, who hails from St. Andrews, Manitoba, is pushing herself to help lead the way toward that end. It won’t be easy for someone who holds Marshall’s top active times in freestyle events ranging from 200 yards to the mile, in the 200 breaststroke, the 200 and 400 individual medley and also as a part of a few relay teams. As a nursing student who often spends much of her week off campus at Cabell Huntington Hospital, Preun is accustomed to the hours of work and preparation needed to reach her goals.
HUNTINGTON — Thankfully, players must sign a National Letter of Intent. One slip of the tongue could have cost Marshall football Coach Doc Holliday the services of Gerald Wright. “Signing Day was crazy; some of the crowd was chanting ‘FSU, FSU,” Wright said. “I got to the microphone and choked and said I was taking my talents to Michigan. I don’t know where that came from.” Lucky for the 6-foot-3, 320-pound offensive lineman, his mom was there to save the day for the Herd and not Florida State or the Wolverines. “I had my mom saying ‘Marshall, Marshall, Marshall, Marshall,” Wright said of when he looked at the school crowd to witness his Signing Day announcement. “That’s when I corrected it and said I will be taking my talents to Marshall.” Wright, from Miami Northwestern High School, was the second commitment of the 2013 Marshall recruiting class and turned down offers from offers from Florida A&M, Ole Miss and a late offer from Florida State. “The crazy thing is that (Florida State) came to offer me on Thursday, right before we went out on break, six days before signing day,” Wright said. But he already was excited to play for Coach Holliday.
HUNTINGTON — As the bus traveled through the Florida night taking the Fort Pierce Central boys basketball team back home, Josh Knight sat in the darkness and reflected on his days as a Cobra. Knight and his teammates had just lost a hard-fought double overtime game in Florida’s Region 3 5-A quarterfinal round stage. Charlotte topped Fort Pierce 78-72 in Punta Gorda to advance on in the postseason. Before fouling out, Knight scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds. The way it is in postseason high school basketball, only those fortunate enough to capture state championships will win that last game. Those falling along the way in State Tournament competition find their seasons come to an abrupt halt. And for someone like Knight it’s even a bit worse, it closes the curtain on a career as a high school senior.
HUNTINGTON — Alex Mirabal’s kids were hoping for a snow day, a couple of them in fact. The catch is they were already out of school, so that wasn’t the reason. Alejandro and Nicolas, along with Mom Berta, were visiting from Miami, spending the weekend in Huntington. Palm trees and 80 degree temperatures greet you every day in South Florida. They wanted to feel the cold, and see some snow. Good thing for the family that Alex Mirabal’s visits have been a pretty good harbinger that bad weather is in the offing. “Doc’s a helluva recruiter and so is Coach (Bill) Legg,” Mirabal said, “and they’re telling me the weather up here’s not that bad. When my wife and I got here for the interview, they had to divert our plane to Lexington (Ky.), they’d gotten the most snow they’ve had all year. “When I officially took the job, when I came back up here it started snowing again. Everybody on the staff said, ‘We’re going to stop bringing you up here because it’s snowing again.’ But it’s good, it’s an adventure for our family.” Mirabal’s journey to Huntington is the first time in his life he’s lived away from the Miami area. He grew up there, and coached 16 years of high school football in Dade County before becoming an assistant at Florida International University.
HUNTINGTON — Vinny Curry is 6-feet-3, 266-pounds. He played four football seasons at Marshall, but it was the year prior to that he says may have been as crucial in his life’s development as any season played. Ask him about coming to MU as an “academic non-qualifier” and his development from a “redshirt” year, and the NFL defensive end grabs the issue like it were, say, quarterbacks Eli Manning of the Giants or Tony Romo of the Cowboys. “My experience at Marshall, coming there, everybody looks out for you,” Curry, the 2011 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, said last Friday in a phone interview. “If they see your potential, they’ll take a chance on you. “They give you all of the resources you need. They work with you. “It’s up to you to get it done.” Curry, headed toward his second NFL season with the Philadelphia Eagles, was talking about his life at Marshall off the football field — his arrival at MU as an academic non-qualifier. The Thundering Herd takes a limited number of those annually, usually about four in a football recruiting year.
HUNTINGTON — “You have to play perfect against the No. 22 ranked team,” Marshall Coach Tom Herrion said. “This was clearly a game of two halves for us. The second was a game of ‘haves’ and the first half was ‘have-nots’ in terms of our defense, and our scoring drought.” The Herd men’s basketball coach was speaking on playing well for a half is never good enough to beat a team with a 16-straight game winning streak, a team like Memphis (23-3, 11-0) — without a true road loss all season. In the end, it was about the Herd’s home loss to the road-tested, No. 22 Tigers on Saturday night, 71-59, leaving Marshall (11-15, 4-7) in a three-way tie for seventh place in Conference USA with Houston and UAB. A season’s best crowd of 6,116 (on a very busy night in the River Cities) at the Cam Henderson Center was hopeful of a win throughout the game, as Marshall outscored Memphis by five points (33-28) in the second half. Marshall would use that run to cut a 17-point deficit at halftime as low as just five points, 46-41, with 10:44 to play.
HUNTINGTON — Perhaps Jeff Waggoner should have gotten a degree in meteorology. Maybe it would help him maximize the precious few hours his Marshall baseball team is able to get outside to prepare for the season. “We’ve been on the football field, taking ground balls, doing as much as we can, but there’s something about actually playing scrimmage games before you get out there for real that can’t be replicated,” the Thundering Herd’s seventh-year head coach said. “That’s a big part of why we’ve traditionally gotten off to slow starts, and it’s why we’re scheduling to get in as many games as possible before Conference USA play starts so we can get all that stuff worked out.”
HUNTINGTON — There are some among my sports media brethren who loathe the entire concept of National Letter of Intent Day coverage … and I can somewhat understand their collective trepidation. There aren’t many situations in sports journalism in which you can get every angle of the story right, but then still turn out to be wrong, when the prospect in question simply changes his mind about his school choice for reasons known only to him at the last minute. The other madding thing about writing accurately about recruiting is somewhat obvious. At some point, you will be making judgments about players you have never seen with your own eyes, or are only somewhat familiar through a series of shaky high school videos that variety in quality – some admittedly good, while others seem to have been shot by Aunt Zelda who apparently purchased her video camera on the way to the game and the final results bear that out.
HUNTINGTON — Stevie Wonder dubbed Philadelphia 76ers legend Darryl Dawkins “Chocolate Thunder” because Dawkins was described to Wonder as the chocolate guy putting down thunder dunks. D’Andre “Chocolate” Wilson didn’t have such luck on how he acquired his nickname. “During birth, I came out extra dark and my father said my name was ‘Chocolate,’” Wilson said in an interview last week. “Ever since then, my name has been Chocolate.” No matter the humorous beginnings, life has been sweet like chocolate for Wilson.
HUNTINGTON — National Signing Day always brings a bit of a rush for coaches. That’s especially true when they can land a player like Arnold Blackmon, who is among those heading to Marshall as part of the Class of ‘13 football recruits. A polite young man from Houston, Blackmon brings plenty to the table – primarily an ability to rush the passer. “I’m extremely excited about being with Coach (Doc) Holliday and Coach (J.C.) Price,” said Blackmon from his home in Texas. “They have a great love for the game.” So, too, does Blackmon.
HUNTINGTON — There are a few things you need to know about Jeremiah Benjamin right out the gate … besides the fact he likes to be called Jeremy. His nickname is “Sweetness.” He’s listed as a linebacker, but he’d prefer to play safety at Marshall. On the Friday night after National Signing Day, he spent part of his evening working out. Certainly, that nickname must have some kind of relevance or connection to NFL Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, right? “Actually Coach (Andrew) Rhoden gave me that nickname,” Benjamin said. “I have no idea why he called me ‘Sweetness.’ People ask me all the time what it means. I just point to Coach and say, “Ask him, he gave it to me.’”
HUNTINGTON - Doc Holliday’s recent hiring of new Marshall offensive line coach Alex Mirabal already is paying dividends. Mirabal’s relationship with Sandley Jean-Felix was enough to get the 6-foot-5, 292-pound offensive lineman to back out of a previous commitment with Florida International and sign with the Herd. Jean-Felix committed to future Conference USA member FIU when Mirabal was an assistant there. But after a head coaching change at the Miami school, Mirabal took the job of coaching the offensive line at Marshall. And now, Jean-Felix now is following him north after an official visit Feb. 1-2 to Huntington. “Coach Mirabal has been very good with me,” Jean-Felix said in a phone interview last week. “And last weekend, I made a visit to Marshall. I thought everything was great. “And even though I just met Coach Holliday and the rest of the staff, I can tell they have my best interests at heart. I am confident they’ll help me get to the next level.”