It’s not often a university’s search for a new basketball coach extends to the Los Angeles Lakers, but there does seem to be some celestial alignment that could bring Mike D’Antoni to Marshall.

Here are the signs that point D’Antoni back to his alma mater:

—Marshall hasn’t hired anyone yet, even though athletics director Mike Hamrick fired Tom Herrion over a month ago.  The season’s been over for most coaches for several weeks. That suggests Marshall is waiting for someone. The Lakers regular season ends tomorrow night and they will not make the playoffs.

—D’Antoni may be job hunting soon. After going 65-86 over the better part of two seasons—he took over in November 2012 after the Lakers fired Mike Brown—there’s lots of speculation that the Lakers and D’Antoni will part company.  The latest report came from Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, who says the Lakers are looking for a “peaceful, mutual” parting of ways. D’Antoni still has one year left on his contract that pays him $4 million annually.

—D’Antoni has maintained close ties with his alma mater. He and former quarterback Chad Pennington are co-chairs of the University’s Vision campaign that has raised millions of dollars for athletic facilities. Hamrick has made sure that the University acknowledges D’Antoni’s strong connections to Marshall, including retiring the No. 10 he wore when he was a standout guard for the Herd in the early 1970s.

—His West Virginia roots run deep. Dantoni’s 100-year-old father Lewis still lives in Mullens where he coached basketball for many years and where Mike grew up. D’Antoni has a sister and brother who still live in the state.

—The Justice Factor. Greenbrier Resort owner and Marshall grad Jim Justice is reportedly a big supporter of D’Antoini’s return, and Justice is a major benefactor of the University.

Of course, maybe some of this is wishful thinking on Marshall’s part. They badly need a marquee hire, a coach who brings with him instant credibility. He’s someone Marshall fans can rally around, shaking off the apathy that has settled in with the fan base.

No, D’Antoni has never coached at the college level, where recruiting is perhaps more important than the X’s and O’s, but his basketball IQ is well established. He played and coached in the Italian league for 20 years, coaching his team to five titles. D’Antoni served as head coach of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns (where he was coach of the year in 2005), the New York Knicks and now the Lakers.

Can you really go from Hollywood to the Henderson Center? Normally no, but if Hollywood turns you out, the lure of friends, family and home can be inviting.

bubble graphic

40

bubble graphic

Comments

  • cutty77

    I know Mike Loves Marshall,but coaching there is another story.Mike doesn't need this in his life. But its good Newpaper material. I think Mike will take some time off,and end up back in The NBA.

  • Bos Johnson

    Hoppy: Well thought out and well expressed.

    Bos

  • Low Rider

    Trading in a palatial view of the Pacific Ocean from your front veranda, to a view of Huntington sounds like a good move to me. Someone at Marshall is a dreamer.

    • Low Rider

      One more point that is worth noting. D'Antoni currently earns $4,000,000 per year. Marshall paid Tom Herrion $286,000. Even if D'Antoni took 1/2 of what he earns with the Lakers to coach at Marshall, he would be the 5th highest paid coach in college basketball. At Marshall…with their 2000 fans? Really?

      • Aaron

        Do you know anything of D'Antoni's history?

  • whocares

    Chas Wolfe ‏@highmajorscoop · 1h
    4 "CONFIRMED" interviews set for Marshall this week:
    Andy Toole
    Jeff Neabauer
    Ronnie Everhart
    Brad Underwood

  • BleedsGreen33

    Everyone just assumes D'Antoni wants big money. He told CBS he would be interested if fired from the Lakers. Seeing how Mike D'Antoni heads up the vision campaign with Chad he has intimate knowledge of Marshall's financial situation and would not be demanding a big salary.

  • Jake

    Noone ever mentions brother Dan. I wish someone would interview him and see where he is in his life . He has spent his whole life in basketball and it would make sense that he might like to move to a head coach .

  • Jeremy Bauserman

    It would be great to have Mike coach at Marshall and I can understand the Herd waiting until the Lakers season is over to see if he wants the job. Having Mike and Bob Huggins coaching Division I basketball in West Virginia at the same time would be great. At the same time, Mike could get another NBA offer that he likes better. At least he seems to be open to the possibility if the CBS Sportsline article from late March is correct.

  • vashti

    Isn't it Knicks? Did Spell check get you?

    • Hoppy Kercheval

      Yes, my mistake. Thanks for catching it. Hoppy

  • Aaron

    I can think of no other way for Mike D'Antoni to wind down his career. Who says you can't go home again?

    The only thing I would add is that when he takes the job he will be 63. Even if he plans 5 years, he should put in place his replacement. As such, Marshall should hire Bruce Bolen as Associate Head Coach.

    With his resume, not only is he ready to step in when D'Antoni retires, he knows the college game and the recruiting. I'm sure he would love to come back to WV as well.

  • Pickle Barrel

    As a Mountaineer fan, I would be perfectly happy if Marshall hired the failed ex-coach of the Knicks and the soon-to-be-fired failed current coach of the Lakers to be the next coach of the Herd.

  • RPP

    Mike D'Antoni couldn't win with " professional ballplayers" in LA or New York so why do people think he can deal with the woes of the basketball program at Marshall.

    • Aaron

      Mike D'Antoni has a proven offense that is meant to put points on the board. Unfortunately it does not work with selfish, the offense must run through me first players like Carmello Anthony or Kobe Bryant.

      The system though, is proven and when ran correctly with the right type of players, would be wildly successful in college. Added to that the fact that his name alone would improve the image of Marshall and draw recruits to Huntington, I understand why so many WVU fans do not want to see this come to fruition.

    • Hillboy

      I don't know about NY but I think any coach would have been hard pressed to come anywhere near .500 in LA the past couple of years. Who did he have besides Kobe, who can hardly play basketball anymore but still plays the team diva?

  • Silas Lynch

    Hoppy, really? a sports story? You should take Dave Weekly's spot because obviously, after listening to you let Danny Jones fill the air-waves with his propaganda and go unchallenged concerning Mark Plants, you haven't the spine to be a journalist or even a sense of any ethics to be trusted on the airwaves....

    • JL

      Maybe you took a story about a West Virginia native and basketball coach too far with the "spine" and "ethics" comments - or maybe your just stupid. Silas Lynch? My guess is stupid.

      • Silas Lynch

        I see you have a lot of spine,,,, from behind your keyboard.

  • CaptainQ

    Well Hoppy, I really can't see D'Antoni returning to Marshall to coach the Thundering Herd. First of all, there's no way Marshall would pay him anywhere near what he makes as the Laker Head Coach. Second, there will be other more lucrative offers from higher profile colleges/universities for his services. Third, this is not exactly a great situation for D'Antoni, not with a team that was 11-22 last season and with very little hope in the near future of getting any better. Fourth, how patient will the Thundering Herd faithful be with D'Antoni? If the expectations for him are too high, what will happen if he can't deliver immediately? Fifth, after being in the limelight of LA, could D'Antoni accept living in West Virginia again? Most people who leave this state for better work opportunities in other states rarely come back here to live, except in retirement. I could see him eventually RETIRING here, but living here to work? That's a different story.

    Personally, I hope I'm wrong and D'Antoni does take the Marshall Head Coach job. If even if he does, he won't be the 'instant success' many will want him to be.

    • Mike

      You have no clue about the situation I see. MD is very well grounded and has morals that most professional coaches don't have. MD has had interest in the job more than once.

      This is from a Huntington Quarterly article:

      "HQ: Would you clear up something for us? Weren't you interested in the Marshall job two separate times?
      D'Antoni: At least two times.
      HQ: Frustrated that you didn't get a viable opportunity?
      D'Antoni: I was more befuddled than anything.
      HQ: Any chance you'd consider the Herd one more time after your pro coaching career is over?
      D'Antoni: You never say never. Marshall is a great place to be."

      Here is the article: http://www.huntingtonquarterly.com/articles/issue71/hqa.php

      Mike Hamrick also has lined up more than just Jim Justice. It will not be 4 million dollars. But if MD is released from his duties with the Lakers. I believe there will be an attractive offer come his way.

      Also Herrion's base contract with the state was 247K. But he made over 400K with the Tom Herrion show and his basketball camps he held.

      I do think Hamrick is "All In" on D'Antoni and I think he has had information from D'Antoni's agent/attorney that if free D'Antoni will take the job if offered.

      If MD wasn't interested he would have told Hamrick and MH would have hired someone over a month ago.

  • Jim N Charleston

    Skippy,

    NO! Next question.

    This is PRIME as to why you you should stay away from sports and stick to the other stuff you know little about.

    You don't have to be a MENSA member (like me) to see not a chance in hell. Greater chance of ROOTS coming back to the 26505 to be the head ball coach AGAIN which is less winning the Powerball & Mega Millions in same week and filling out a perfect bracket for Buffett's Billion Dollar Challenge for the triple crown of chance.

    I'm Jim N So Charleston
    L8

    • Kelly

      The one consistent trait I have noted from meeting the few legitimate Mensa members I have met is that they could care less if anyone knows they belong.

    • JL

      Mensa hell. I remember you from the short bus at school with all the kids who all went to that one classroom down by the boiler room. Mensa members would not capitalize words as to illustrating shouting or emphasis. When you do attend Mensa meetings they are on the bench in front of WalMart with the rest of your suck-up friends…Skippy Jim N Charleston…..

    • Hop'sHip

      I want to see your membership card! You seem more mendacious than Mensa to me. But if indeed you are Mensa, you hide it well.

      • The bookman

        Why Hops? It is estimated that in the US 6 million people are eligible for membership in Mensa, with less than 1% of those qualified choosing to join the group. The intelligence level needed to achieve entry is not really discriminating, with the organization accepting any approved intelligence test that scores in the top 2%. In West Virginia alone 36,000 people would qualify for membership. Jim is a smart guy. He just needs that fact validated.

        • Hillboy

          For 36,000 to be qualified for Mensa in WV assumes that intelligent people are evenly distributed geographically. I'm not sure that is the case.

          I've known a lot of people who I think would very likely qualify for Mensa. So far, I've never met anyone who self-identified as a Mensa member who I thought seemed qualified.

          • Hop'sHip

            Well if either of you two claimed Mensa status, I would accept that. But Jim? Not buying it. I admire smart and clever, but only a couple times have I found his hastily prepared comments either. And the whole "Skippy" thing has long ago become tedious. Maybe it is something personal between him and Hoppy.

          • The bookman

            I've never met a Mensa member who self identified that I wished to talk to for more than 30 seconds. As for the distribution issue, I would agree there are assumptions made regarding population. Mensa used the same generic method to extrapolate, so if it was good enough for the brainiacs, it should be good enough for me.

  • ShinnstonGuy

    Hoppy,

    I think you should consider writing an editorial on the rivalry between WVU and Marshall. Personally I want the Thundering Herd to succeed in all aspects of the institution, though I am a WVU graduate. However, per conversation with several fellow WVU grads it was agreed that while most people we know have no ill will toward Marshall, the same cannot be said in reverse. Many Marshall alums and fans seem outright hostile toward anything WVU, whether it be academics, successes, or athletics. I am not sure why in a small state like West Virginia we can't cheer each other on mutually, and I would love to hear your perspective.

    I am sorry to say I don't know much about the coach mentioned above, other than the fact that the Lakers "window" has closed and they must rebuild.

    • Mike

      I Bleed Green and White and could care less about what goes on in Northern PA. Anything above Lewis County doesn't act and fit what most of WV is. I don't root either way for WVU. But if I see they lose it does put a smile on my face.

      • ShinnstonGuy

        How do you feel about the Eastern Panhandle then?

        • Mike

          They are above Lewis County or do you not know your geography

    • junius

      Some of what you say is true. However, who would catch the most grief. A WVU fan wearing the Blue and Gold sitting in the MU cheering section, or vice versa? Be honest. As a Marshall fan, I can feel the tobacco loogie just thinking about it.

      • ShinnstonGuy

        I guess it revolves around who you choose to sit with, eat with, etc. My WVU tailgate has welcomed rival fans of Marshall, ECU, and all the Big XII schools. Hospitality is what we are known for, not viciousness. Tell these folks with their tobacoo loogies to get a life. Cheers.

    • Steve

      While this has nothing to do with Mike D'Antoni, I completely agree with what you are saying. I live in Huntington and am an alum of Marshall, but have been a fan of WVU since I was very young because I had an uncle that played there in the 70s. I get the impression that there is a "little brother syndrome" among many at Marshall. They see WVU having much more success in relation to Marshall both in athletics and in the case of academics, and I understand this especially, they see much more state money sent up 79 from Charleston than what comes down 64 to Huntington. I for one, am proud to have graduated from Marshall, and to be a fan of both schools. I think all people in a state the size of ours need to remember that there are only 2 Division I schools and that it is better if both are doing well. It is not like Pennsylvania where it makes sense to be a fan of Penn State and want Pitt to be bad (it is always good for Pitt to be bad though).