HUNTINGTON, W.Va.—Dan D’Antoni knows for Marshall to be successful his team will need something extra.
D’Antoni is rebuilding the program from the ground up and believes pride for the name on the front of the jersey is the foundation for future success.
“I think the pride you instill in the kids help them win,” insists D’Antoni.
Schools such as Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas and others top programs have their pick of the top recruits in the country. D’Antoni won’t have the luxury as he and his staff scour the country and beyond for prospects. He wants to find players that he can develop and instill the same pride and passion about Marshall and basketball that he possesses.
“I think sometimes people want to think it is all about talent. From this level we have to have more than that if we’re going to be competing against the Kentucky’s, West Virginia’s, Louisville’s and other top ranked universities,” knows D’Antoni.
D’Antoni wants his team to out-work and out-hustle the opposition. He firmly believes that players who are proud of the school and community they represent have more to play for than the player who knows he is only going to play one year of college basketball before turning pro.
“When you start putting good practice habits, a lot of pride in what you’re in what you’re doing, a love for the university and passion it takes to do any job, then wins will come,” D’Antoni believes.
You’re not going to hear any excuses about a lack of talent from D’Antoni. He compares his philosophy to and old-fashioned pick up game on the playground where the other team gets the first five picks and you get the second five.
“That’s fine. We’ll take those five and build from there. By having an excellent training program, practices that teach skills, and allow these players to catch up.”
And when those players to catch up D’Antoni is adamant Marshall will be able to compete and beat the top teams, not only in Conference USA but in the country.
“We have to beat them,” says D’Antoni concerning the top programs. “We have to beat them in how we train and how we work and we bring up our physical levels. We need to work hard in practices and work together.”
Why does D’Antoni believe this so strongly?
Because this was the case when donned the kelly green as a player.
“The team I was on did it. Bob Redd, Bob Allen, George Stone, Jim Davis and I, none of us were top picks in the country, yet when we lined up we had a chance to beat everybody. That’s what we got to get back here.”
“We’ll learn to compete. There’s a growing process anytime you change and you put new people in, a new coaching staff, a new way of playing, there is an adjustment period. Once all that is established we’ll give Marshall a great basketball program.”