— By Bill Cornwell
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall opens the 2023-24 season Monday night against Queens University at the Henderson Center.
Tip time is 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPN+.
The Herd and Royals clashed in last year’s season opener as well, with Queens defeating Marshall 83-82 in Charlotte in its inaugural game as a Division I member.
The Royals, which did not play an official exhibition, are members of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Last season, they finished 18-15, including 7-11 in the conference.
Marshall won both of its exhibitions — 101-69 over Pikeville and 103-85 over Lees-McRae.
Tenth-year Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni is doing some rebuilding after the Herd had a successful 2022-23 season with a 24-8 record, including 13-5 in the Sun Belt.
Three of the team’s top players are no longer around in Taevion Kinsey, who used up his eligibility, and Andrew Taylor and Micah Handlogten. Taylor is now at Mississippi State and Handlogten is at Florida.
There are several key returners likely to start, including senior guard Kamdyn Curfman, junior forward Obinna Anochili-Killen and sophomores Wyatt Fricks and Jacob Connor.
Two transfer guards with plenty of past experience that were featured in key roles in both exhibitions are Kevon Voyles (Maryland-Eastern Shore) and Cam Crawford (Indiana State). Inside help will come from forward Nate Martin, who came to Marshall from fellow Sun Belt member Texas State. True freshman guard Ryan Nutter could also see considerable time on the floor early in the season.
Queens returns six letter winners from last year’s squad, including four consistent starters in AJ McKee, Gavin Rains, BJ McLaurin and Kalib Matthews. The Royals added several pieces, including a pair of top 50 junior college players in Deyton Albury and Jacobi Setback.
Grant Leonard is in his second season as the Royals’ head coach.
After Monday’s game, Marshall is back in action at 7 p.m. Friday when it faces Radford inside Colonial Hall at The Greenbrier Resort. The Highlanders are coached by former West Virginia point guard Darris Nichols.