If you would have said before the season started that the team atop the Conference USA standings after the first two weeks of conference play would be the Marshall Thundering Herd, some would have said you were crazy.
What’s even crazier, at least to some, is that it’s actually the case.
The Thundering Herd, armed with one of the more electric offenses in the country, are currently 4-0 against Conference USA foes, and are a half-game ahead of the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders for top spot. Marshall has topped the 100-point mark three occasions, going 2-1 in those games.
Four players have played in at least 14 games this year, and are averaging 11.6 points per game, or more.
One of those players is senior forward Ryan Taylor, who is stuffing the stat sheet despite missing three games earlier in the year.
This past week was no different for the big man. The Thundering Herd took to the hardwood three times, and came away with three impressive wins. Taylor was a big part of all three, recording three double-doubles in the wins.
For his efforts over the past seven days, a stretch that saw him average 25.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per contest, Marshall forward Ryan Taylor has been named the College Court Report Player of the Week for January 2 – 8, 2017!
Entering the week, Taylor was coming off one of his quieter games of the year, a 6-point, 7-rebound performance in a 94-70 win to open up conference play over the Florida International Golden Panthers on New Year’s Eve.
On Monday, in Marshall’s first game of 2017, Taylor was back to filling up the stat sheet on both ends of the court.
The Thundering Herd came away with the 89-72 road win over the Florida Atlantic Owls, and Taylor was a big factor in the victory. He scored a season-high 31 points, and pulled down 13 rebounds to lead the way for the Thundering Herd.
Taylor became just the fourth player in program history to record 1,400 points and 800 rebounds for his career in the win.
He also shot 65.0% (13-of-20) from the field. All of this was a sign of things to come for the rest of the week.
Up next, on Thursday night, was a home date against the Old Dominion Monarchs. While this time they needed overtime, the Thundering Herd came away with the 90-86 win, and Taylor picked up right where he left off against the Owls.
He recorded 21 points and 13 rebounds for his second-straight double-double, while also adding 5 blocks in the win. It was also his fourth game shooting 50.0% or better from the field, as he finished the night going 7-of-13 (53.8%) from the floor.
To cap things all off on Saturday, Taylor had one more impressive performance in him.
Against the Charlotte 49ers, Taylor went off for 24 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 assists in the Thundering Herd’s 110-93 victory. The win pushed the win streak to four games for Marshall, and extended Taylor’s double-double streak to three.
Again, he shot better than 50% from the field, going 9-of-14 (64.3%) from the field, and 2-of-3 (66.7%) from three point range.
Thanks to Taylor’s big week, Marshall closed it out atop the Conference USA standings at 4-0, and 11-6 overall on the year.
Over Marshall’s three wins, the native of Indianapolis, IN averaged a casual 25.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.3 blocks per game. He shot a combined 29-of-47 (61.7%) from the field, 3-of-7 (42.9%) from three point range, and 15-of-25 (60.0%) from the free throw line.
For the year, Taylor is averaging 15.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He is ranked third on the team in scoring, and is the team’s top rebounder. The fact that Taylor is the team’s third leading scorer, while averaging close to 16 points per game, is bad news for the rest of the teams in the Conference USA as the season progresses.
Marshall has several guys who can hurt you, so if one player draws a double-team, another offensive weapon is open.
If Marshall wants to stay near the top of the conference standings, performances like this from Taylor will certainly help their case. Sitting at 11-6 overall, and 4-0 in conference play, the Thundering Herd have been a pleasant surprise over the first half of the 2016-17 season.
Thanks to three straight double-double performances, all of which resulted in wins, Marshall senior forward Ryan Taylor has been selected as the College Court Report Player of the Week for the week of January 2 – 8, 2017!
– T. Bennett
Dec. 26, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017: DeAndre Harris, Nicholls Colonels
Dec. 19 – 25, 2016: DeWayne Russell, Grand Canyon Antelopes
Dec. 12 – 18, 2016: Ian Baker, New Mexico State Aggies
Nov. 28 – Dec, 4, 2016: Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure Bonnies
Nov. 21 – 27, 2016: Marquise Moore, George Mason Patriots
Nov. 14 – 20, 2016: Eric Mika, BYU Cougars
Nov. 11 – 13, 2016: Jairus Lyles, UMBC Retrievers
**College Court Report Player of the Week recipients are selected from teams in the following conferences:
America East, Atlantic Sun, Atlantic 10, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Conference USA, Horizon League, Ivy League, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot League, Southern, Southland, Summit League, SWAC, Sun Belt, West Coast, and WAC