HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall may need to add a few more seats to the end of the bench next season with new head coach Dan D’Antoni taking the reins of the program.
“You have to understand when one D’Antoni fills the seat, we’ll all fill the seat,” he said. “Our family has always been that way.”
Appearing on MetroNews “Talkline” Friday morning. D’Antoni said there was no inner-family resentment after Marshall athletics director Mike Hamrick spent a month targeting his younger brother and Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni for the job.
“That’s not our family and we never have been (that way),” said Dan D’Antoni. “We all celebrate each other and when one of us gets a job, so do all the others.”
During meetings in Los Angeles, Hamrick met several times with both brothers and was able to gauge each individual’s interest and availability in coming back to Marshall.
“You have to understand when Mike (Hamrick) was talking to Mike (D’Antoni), I was sitting right there with him,” explained Dan D’Antoni. “Almost every time they talked, I was right there.”
And when it became clear the Lakers were not going to fire Mike D’Antoni after the season, his older brother Dan was presented with the chance of a lifetime.
“I’ve always wanted to be back here and this has been a dream of mine come true,” Dan said. “This was my dream job. I’m here and I’m ready and willing and ready to work to make this program succeed.”
Success has eluded Marshall for the better part of the last quarter century. The Herd’s last appearance in the NCAA tournament was in 1987, 10 years before most of the current recruiting class was born. The program bottomed out over the last two seasons, losing 41 games following a berth in the NIT in the 2011-12 season.
D’Antoni has not been on the sidelines as a college coach since his days as an assistant at Marshall in 1971. But he said he’s confident he can relate to today’s college basketball players and bring out their best.
“It comes down to selling yourself and selling the program and the direction it’s going. I’ve developed a lot of players in the NBA and have a lot of resources they can check,” D’Antoni said. “They can call David Lee, Leandro Barbosa, or Boris Diaw or Raja Bell and they can tell them how I helped them in their careers.”
Asked about the potential for re-recruiting Kareem Canty, the point guard who plans to transfer but has yet to sign with another program, D’Antoni waxed vague.
“We’re going to have a good team and we’re going to have players that want to be here and want to play very hard for the school.”