Marshall University’s Athletic Director Mike Hamrick introduced Dan D’Antoni as the new basketball coach at a press conference Friday on Marshall’s campus.
Marshall University’s men’s basketball program finally has a new
leader, in Dan D’Antoni. The Los Angeles Lakers’s assistant coach will lead the school that he once played for from 1966 to 1970. Dan is the younger brother of Mike, the Head Coach of the Lakers.
Dan D’Antoni says he’s ready for the opportunity.
“I want to say how excited I am to be here, first of all that’s the most important thing,” D’Antoni said. “And he hit it on the head when he said this was a lifelong dream, it is. I’ve got my family here, D’Antoni’s have always bled green for a long, long time, and it goes back to Dad’s era back in the 30’s.”
The D’Antoni’s are originally from Mullens. Dan played for the Herd from 1966 to 1970. He said the state at the time was full of great talent.
“Southern West Virginia at that time was a hotbed of basketball, all of us played that was the thing to do. Hal Greer, Leo Byrd, Jerry West, Willie Akers was my dad’s center, there was a lot of good basketball at that time, it shaped a lot of things, it’s what gave me that passion,” D’Antoni said.
During the 40 plus days since Tom Herrion resigned, Mike D’Antoni’s name was front and center for Marshall’s coaching search, but not Dan. Dan D’Antoni has been a National Basketball Association assistant for nine years with his brother in Phoenix, New York and Los Angeles. D’Antoni said he may be 66, but age means nothing.
“I’m not 67, I’m 66 years old and I want to get that straight, because you’re aging me before I get there, but I do feel in pretty good health though and I do have a lot of energy,” D’Antoni said.
It’ll take a lot of energy for D’Antoni to teach his game plan to his new team. He plans to play a pressing defense, guarding all over the floor, while being aggressive offensively. He said that system will allow his players to excel.
“I don’t tell them, don’t do this and don’t do that, I show them how they can do this and how they can do that,” D’Antoni said. “And if they’re unselfish and I expect them to be, if they’re unselfish they’ll know their limitations of what they shouldn’t be doing to hurt our team.”
Ryan Taylor is one of the players that will soon suit up for Dan D’Antoni. He said he’s ready for a new brand of basketball.
“We’re still not that big and I think everybody on our team is interchangeable pieces and we’re just ready as he said to get up and down the floor and put the ball in the basket,” Taylor said.
Taylor said it was hard waiting so long for a new coach to be named, but he’s happy with the hire.
“It’s been rough, but O’Malley and Hamrick came to use and told us whoever we hire and when we hire them it’s going to be a great hire for us and the team, so just take your time and don’t make any decisions and I’m happy and my teams happy with the decisions that he made,” Taylor said.
Dan D’Antoni says he will name a staff of assistants soon.