Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

April 25, 2014

Marshall hires Dan D’Antoni as hoops coach

BECKLEY — Danny D’Antoni hasn’t been a West Virginia resident in nearly 40 years. That will soon change, and his family could not be happier.

D’Antoni will be introduced as Marshall’s new head men’s basketball coach at a press conference at 2 p.m. today. Athletic director Mike Hamrick announced the hiring via Twitter Thursday afternoon.

The hiring of D’Antoni ends a 41-day search for a replacement for Tom Herrion, who resigned March 14. A search began immediately, with pursuit of current Los Angeles Lakers coach and Mullens native Mike D’Antoni taking center stage.

It was reported late Tuesday that D’Antoni will be retained as coach of the Lakers, with whom he still has two years remaining on his current contract.

Danny D’Antoni is Mike’s older brother and is one of his assistants in L.A., but will leave to take over at his alma mater.

It won’t be the homecoming that was expected, but the D’Antoni family is just as thrilled.

“Extremely excited,” Dan’s sister, Kathy, said Thursday evening. “I’m not quite sure there are words to describe how excited I am. This is a great day.”

Kathy will attend today’s press conference, as will their father Lewis, the patriarch of the first family of Wyoming County. Lewis turned 100 years old on New Year’s Eve.

Dan’s hiring was somewhat of a surprise move considering the well-publicized pursuit of Mike. But Kathy said the development was not strange to her.

“It wasn’t weird, given where Mike is with his situation with the Lakers,” she said. “No matter which D’Antoni it is, it’s still a great day.”

Dan started at point guard at Marshall from 1968-70 and was inducted into the Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990.

After his playing career, D’Antoni coached Mike on Marshall’s freshman team. In 1975, he became the coach at Socastee High in Myrtle Beach, where he won over 500 games in a 30-year career.

It was in Myrtle Beach that he founded the Beach Ball Classic, which started as an eight-team tournament but blossomed into a 16-team national showcase. Among the classic’s alumni is current Laker and future NBA Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, one of more than 75 NBA players to take part in the tournament.

In 2005, D’Antoni followed Mike to be his assistant with the Phoenix Suns. They were there until 2008 before taking the same roles with the New York Knicks. The two have been with the Lakers since 2012.

D’Antoni, 66, coached the summer league teams for both the Knicks and Lakers.

An all-state player at Mullens High, D’Antoni was the starting point guard on the Marshall teams that played in the NIT in 1967 and 1968. The ’67 team reached the semifinals, and D’Antoni led the tournament in assists.

As a senior, he was an All-Mid-American Conference first-team selection in 1968-69, when he led the Herd in scoring at 17.5 points per game. He was All-MAC second team his junior season.

D’Antoni is one of 49 Marshall players to score 1,000 career points (1,109), and he ranks 13th in career free-throw percentage at .774 (301-of-389).

“Danny has been invaluable in the development of players at the high school and professional level,” Mike D’Antoni said in a statement. “If you have the desire he will get everything out of you. He is a great coach. Players love playing for him and the style will be fun to watch. The Henderson Center will be rocking with excitement.”

—gfauber@register-

herald.com / @GaryFauber.

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