HUNTINGTON - It wasn’t a guarantee early last week that Marshall freshman forward Ryan Taylor would play versus West Virginia. And there was no guarantee of how many minutes he would play if he did.
He ended up playing 26 minutes against the Mountaineers after a two-game stint on the injured list, and should be ready to go for the Thundering Herd’s game at 7 tonight in the Cam Henderson Center against Alice Lloyd College.
Taylor hurt his left leg in practice before Marshall’s (4-6) loss to Vanderbilt and sat out games versus the Commodores and Penn State. Marshall Coach Tom Herrion admitted it looked like a long shot for Taylor to be ready for WVU, but credits Taylor and the training staff for their hard work in getting Taylor healthy.
Taylor said he just wanted to be on the court in some capacity to provide a spark for a Marshall team in need of one.
“I went in (to the training room) as much as possible, so I could get treatment and rehab, so I could at least try to play just a little bit Saturday,” Taylor said. “It felt different with the brace, just having it on my leg. But once I got onto the floor, and got up and down the floor a few times, I really didn’t feel any pain.”
With that brace on his left leg, Taylor made three of five shots from the floor for seven points and recorded two rebounds, two assists and a steal. He scored two baskets in within his first six minutes on the court to help Marshall gain an early lead Saturday.
Freshman point guard Kareem Canty said Taylor’s return came at a crucial time, as Marshall is trying to snap a four-game losing streak, all coming away from the Henderson Center. Taylor’s addition to the rotation, he said, provided an obvious boost.
“That’s our best player, to me,” Canty said. “He scores, finds ways to get rebounds, he defends, and he does it without complaining.”
“He brings out toughness and he helps me a lot. He’s in spots where I need him to be.”
Taylor is one of four double-digit scorers for the Herd, averaging 10.9 points per game, and with leading scorer Elijah Pittman suspended indefinitely, Taylor knows he’ll need to be on the court to help pick up the slack. He also knows how much his teammates enjoy him being on the court. He could feel it during the WVU game.
“There was just a lot of energy,” he said. “They were happy for me to be back. Everybody’s a key part on this team, from the coaching staff all the way to the end of the bench. Me coming back was a big boost and I wanted to be there for my teammates.”
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CANTY FOUND himself among C-USA’s weekly award winners yet again Monday. He was named conference freshman of the week for the third straight week after he scored 16 points and dished nine assists against West Virginia.
Canty played a game-high 39 minutes Saturday and recorded three of the Herd’s 10 steals against the Mountaineers.