MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As the teams were unveiled one by one in the TBT selection show on Tuesday, Jon Elmore remained confident that the ‘Herd That’ logo would pop up on the screen. It did, as the 23rd team selected in the 24-team field.
“We heard some murmurs that we were in a good position,” Elmore said. “We made a couple late additions that I think really put us over the top. Like most people, we were kind of waiting with excitement on the edge of our seat to see what happened. When our name was called, we were fired up.”
Elmore is Marshall’s all-time leading scorer and he will be joined on the roster by four fellow Herd Alumni. Jon’s brother Ot is the team’s general manager. C.J. Burks, Stevie Browning and Ryan Taylor complete the list.
Herd That also recruited players that could add some bulk to complement their uptempo style of play.
“We were missing some big pieces of size inside and some athleticism. So we put our heads together. Some of the guys we played against, Chris Cokley from UAB, Jacorey Williams from Middle Tennessee, Zach Smith (Texas Tech) we had the same agent. So we used our connections that developed through the basketball world.”
Pittsburgh and Arizona product Ryan Luther is also on the Herd That roster.
The single-elimination TBT opens in just over two weeks and Herd That will gather in Charleston this weekend to begin practices.
“We are flying everybody in and everyone gets here Friday. So we will start training camp and we will have several rounds of COVID testing to make sure everyone is good. We don’t want to come around each other if somebody is sick.”
Awaiting Herd That in the opening round is WVU alumni squad and No. 10 seed Best Virginia.
“We’re excited. I hate that we play each other in the first round but it is great for the state. Everybody is going to be watching. I understand from a marketing standpoint why the tournament did it. Some of our guys on our team were in that game in the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament when they knocked us out. Revenge is on our mind.
“We have a good relationship with some of those guys so it will be a fun game. At the same time, we are trying to win a million dollars. So we have to go through them.”
Elmore will be going up against Best Virginia coach and Marshall fan Jarrod West. West’s son Jarrod is entering his senior season with the Herd.
“He is a huge Marshall advocate and supporter. Jarrod (junior) has become a star at Marshall and one of my good friends. It is all good fun. He has been a good friend of mine. I have talked with him after games to get advice. He is a great dude and I am happy he is coaching them. He is a great coach and a great person.”
All games at The Basketball Tournament will be played at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. No fans will be in attendance. Charleston was originally selected to host a TBT regional before the pandemic caused organizers to reduce the field size from 64 to 24 teams.
“It is kind of disappointing that the tournament isn’t in Charleston this year. I think the fan support would have been amazing for Marshall and West Virginia. I think that would have been a sight to see the Civic Center packed up.
“But with everything going on, having a central location in Columbus, it will be a little weird with no fans there. I had to play a couple games overseas professionally this year with no fans once the outbreak started. So it is definitely a little awkward when you score a bucket and you don’t hear anything.”
Elmore played in Italy this past season and he is looking to continue his professional career. For now, his immediate goal will be to take his best shot at the million dollar winner-take-all purse.
“I have a baby girl coming. I have to put the money away. She is probably going to be a little expensive.
“It is a business trip. We are going in with the idea that we are going to win the money.”