home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 17, 2018

Dan D'Antoni

San Diego, California

DAN D'ANTONI: Looking forward to the game, big 'ol game. Everybody is happy right now and that's the life of a coach. You get to enjoy it and enjoy being here and enjoying this opportunity. When you enjoy something you want to keep it going, so we're going to give it our best shot and see if we can't keep this little trip we're on to the next road destination.

Q. Could you tell us from your perspective why this series stopped after the 2015 game?
DAN D'ANTONI: You will have to ask West Virginia about that. I'm not going to go just play at Morgantown, so after that ask West Virginia. I think it should be played. You one time their place, one time our place, one time a neutral place, whatever.

Q. Coach, from your perspective is there any wiggle room on the terms of a potential series? Would you do a two for one or a three for one?
DAN D'ANTONI: No, we're a Division I school. You gotta treat us like one. I would love to play. I'll needle them a little bit. I see somebody I can needle, so I'm going to needle them a little bit. We are playing West Virginia University. I coach Marshall University where West Virginians play. We'll just leave it at that.

Q. Along those lines, how happy are you getting an opportunity to play them?
DAN D'ANTONI: I might not be so happy after the game. It's not a sleight on them. They're good!

Q. As you sit here how happy are you?
DAN D'ANTONI: They're good. They got a great coach, Hall of Fame coach. It's not about that. It's not about myself or him, Coach Huggins. They're a great university. It's the recognition of the two major universities in West Virginia. That's all. Nothing more to me. I lived it when we became college to university and wanted to play my years and Mike wanted to play his years. Couldn't get it done. I just feel like it's time, you know? Should be done one time. That's my opinion, they have a different opinion. Life goes on.

Q. So yesterday we talked about your players have been recruited from West Virginia and there are often players that some other colleges were ignoring or not recruiting and they're probably wishing they recruited them now. But you've turned this group into a tough team that plays your NBA up-tempo three-point style oriented style of play. How have you done that and do you think the style of play will help you against the tough West Virginia press tomorrow?
DAN D'ANTONI: It better help us. Let's put it that way or they'll route us. You know, I've been blessed. I was born into a house that had a great coach. So I started learning at an early age. I had a brother became a great coach. I learned from him. I got a classroom with NBA coaches and NBA players and I learned from them.

Then you just kind of mix that into your own style, you know, who you are. Can't go way from yourself in anything, whether it be a reporter, I don't feel like. People can see through people that aren't themselves. Somebody asked me the question, well, you've coached junior high, high school, pro, college. How did you manage to do that? I taught 'em all the same. I'm trying to help them. That's it. You just give 'em what you are and be true. Be truthful. Don't try to fool anybody. I'm not good at fooling people. I let it ride, say it and walk out. That's all I can do.

Q. I was just wondering, the match-ups, I saw you watching the game, the West Virginia game the other day. How will the teams match-up and what will be a key area to watch?
DAN D'ANTONI: Well, the game's going to be won how we defend the paint. They stay tight. Got a good little offense. Coach has done a great job with what they have, what they do. I don't know what you saw me watching I had my eyes closed after I saw how big they were. So I don't know when you thought I was watchin'. Going to have to try to do the best we can in that area and use our strengths to be better at what we do as opposed to what they do. We're not going to stop everything. It's impossible! 280 pounds, we don't have anything like that.

I told somebody looked like, remember the old commercial where you had the guy that had been in the weight room on the beach and he was kicking sand on the guy that hadn't been? We're that guy gettin' the sand kicked on!

I don't know. We're going to play as hard as we can, I'm not going to tell you because you'll go tell Huggy. We'll try to do a few things, and whether it will work, I don't know. But it will come down to, whether, we can get the ball moving. We're not as athletic and big, but they're not as fast as that ball. So we can get the ball moving it will give our angles and our three-point shooters to get 'em off and now you get 2 we get 3 you get 2, we get 3s you get 2, we get 3, we win! We'll see what happens.

That's basically what we're going to do. I had that Pittsburgh reporter one time he said, how come you didn't go down to the low post? I said, the guy was ranked 50th in the country, and the guy I was going to try to beat him with was ranked 550 in the country. So that would be real smart coach to go and try to do that, right?

So we are going to use our strength. Whatever we can do. Ours is ball movement. We gotta get the ball moving, get Carter off him a little bit. He's like glue. He's a good player. They're a good team, one of the best. The good thing about Marshall basketball now is we're here to play 'em. That hasn't been.

Now we're here to play 'em, and this experience win or lose is going to make us better. We're going to go back home and we're going to be a national basketball program and that's why I came back. I got a few more years and I'm going to try to get this done.

Q. Coach, just to understand maybe a little bit of your relationship with Coach Huggins. When was the last time you guys talked? What was the topic?
DAN D'ANTONI: I like Coach Huggins. It's not about Coach Huggins. Y'all make it about him. It's not about him. Heck, I respect him. I've watched his teams play and I've watched him over the years, and he's a great coach. And West Virginia is a good university. It's not that. It's the relationship we have with Marshall. I'm trying to improve. Huggins and I sat down and talked for 30 minutes the summer in recruiting, Myrtle Beach, I believe it was, I went so many places I can't remember. I respect him thoroughly. I think he said the other day it's not about, he has a different opinion, somebody has a different opinion about how the relationship with Marshall should be in sports. It's just a difference of opinion. It's not, I don't hate anybody. My brother got his Masters from there, lawyer degree from there.

You know, we're familiar with West Virginia people. Now, do I want to beat him? Does it give me a special little, yeah, that's good. There's nothing wrong with it. That's what makes it fun. It be wouldn't be fun if I didn't get excited.

Q. Your emphasis on having players who can handle the ball, you've got three or four of 'em on the court all the. How big is that going to be against the press and their defense in general?
DAN D'ANTONI: You know, our philosophy, Mike and my philosophy or there's a lot of people I shouldn't say it's just us, but you've got to have the day in basketball. You've got to have five people who can score the basketball from any position on the floor. When you do that, you're hard to cover because now the floor expands and the defense expands and you don't have anybody that you can slide off of. You can't game plan off people.

If you watched the game against Wichita State we didn't guard 0. We didn't even guard him. Stood over there trying to mess up all the other guys, Shaq, you know, or we would come down and he's at the foul line we've got two guys on Shaq not guarding 0. In my mind, if you've got somebody we can game plan off of, we got a link we can get to. So I want my team to be -- they can play every position, 5, 4, 1, 2, they can end up in every position, and they can all score from that position. If you can do that, then it's hard for teams to game plan that. That's why we score.

Then we also believe it's the first good shot, not the shot the coach manufacturers, but that the players manufacturer, a first good shot. A lot of people will look and a lot of sportswriters, oh, man, they took an early shot, they're settling. The problem, especially well our team maybe because we're not as physical and maybe as athletic. We don't take the first opportunity we might not get another one.

So I don't want 'em to take my shots. I want 'em to take ones they can get. I trust 'em. Is there times when you have to go, yeah, yeah, we took some bad shots? Yeah. But so do teams that do exactly what the coach says have to take a tough shot at the end of that, too. We play our strengths, spread the floor, move the basketball, enjoy playing. Trust 'em. I don't pigeon hole players. I don't have a guy, we don't shoot layups, normal layups. We don't do that. If you have to teach 'em that at this level we're in trouble.

So we don't have layup lines. We teach 'em fades. One thing I learned from Steve Nash who is not a great athlete is that you can perform as a great athlete and if you keep it simple and you take the kinks out of their game, you can have them play like a perfect athlete. Steve could go by anybody and he wasn't exceptionally fast, but there were no flaws in what he did. So that's how we teach and do the best we can and have fun doing it.

Q. Coach, you just mentioned now becoming a national program, a national brand. So much of what you guys have done up to this point is through local guys, West Virginia guys, guys that have pride playing at Marshall. Have you taken the time to consider when you get back maybe your phone will be ringing with guys that might not have been interested before and how you find that balance of still finding guys that are right for you, your program as the program continues to ascend higher and higher?
DAN D'ANTONI: I encourage all West Virginia coaches to coach 'em up because I want the West Virginia kids to be the best I can find, period. They're there. I was not recruited. I had one scholarship that was to Marshall. I thought I was good enough to play somewhere else, but I ended up decent, where, you know, I could have probably played a lot of places, a lot of places would have recruited me. I'm going to recruit West Virginians. I think that's the way college basketball ought to be. I think that's what it is. You are representing your state and if you're not looking at your state first that's a mistake. I think I can find kids that I can coach up if they're willing to be coached and we look for coachable kids. I think I can get 'em to a level that they can compete against anybody.

Then after that we will look elsewhere. I always tease West Virginians. I said we gotta find more tall people in this state. We need tall guys. So I we want overseas, got connections over there, have Ajdin Penava and Terrell Miller, got a few more in mind. So I have tall people and short West Virginians like me and we recruited a kid out of Zanesville, Ohio this year. If there are West Virginians I'm going to give 'em an opportunity and find kids like me that were there.

If you're out of state and smaller you better be real good. Then we will fill out the adoption papers and I'll bring you in. You will be an adopted West Virginian, which we have some of those. So that's good.

Q. Obviously, you and your staff and players are sold on an analytics based system. Why are more schools not doing it? It makes sense to you and made a lot of sense the other night. Do you think maybe your victory and a team like Buffalo, that plays fast?
DAN D'ANTONI: You can look at Baltimore, too.

Q. Against the slowest team in the country do you think that will change minds? Why do you think we don't see more of this?
DAN D'ANTONI: That's a tough question. First of all, I want you to know you can win a lot of different ways, okay? It's really how well you play what you do. Now, do I think by spreading the floor you get a little advantage? Yes. I think there is an advantage to maybe not quite as physical and not as athletic of a player if he has the skills to play an open floor game.

I thought of Marshall, you know, when I came in, we're not going to get that complete player that's skilled, athletic, and big. So now if I'm not getting that kind of player how can I complete against that type of team? That's by using a system that allows the skilled part of it which I think we can get and then being able to teach it. If I got anything going for me it's that I learned all those steps that I've had, coaching junior high, high school, college, pro. I got a lot of knowledge that was given to me. I don't want you to think it popped out of this genius mind. It's not. I was open to learning. It's hard sometimes for people to be open to new things especially when you have been successful with old things and when things change. I put up a thing in New York, which we had difficult changing past thoughts on how to win to maybe a new way.

It went over sometimes, sometimes it didn't go over too good, but I put up, McDonalds is the No. 1 hamburger chain in America and in order to stay the No. 1 grossing revenue hamburger chain they started selling breakfast. Sometimes you've just gotta change and that's difficult for some people. It's not difficult for me because I forgot what I did yesterday and I'm always trying to figure out what to do the next day.

So you know what? It's just difficult. Change is difficult. On anybody! Especially when you are an established winner, and all of the sudden the game changed on you. There is a weeding out process. I think Golden State helped it out in the NBA a little bit. People started realizing, might have to change a little bit. The game's changing. Computer says three-point shot. Well, computer says layup, best shot in basketball. Computer says 1.5 points are scored from a free throw. 1.3 from a corner shot, 1.28 everywhere else. .78 to that post-up that I ran down the floor for five or six years trying to get and that's how smart I was. I was running, designing plays, fixing everything out to take the worst shot in basketball. That's a smart coach.

I started realizing, okay, if they're saying these are the best shots, what type of offense do I have to have to put 'em in those positions? That's what good coaches do. They put players in positions that they can be effective.

So we came up with that. Then we left Phoenix and lost Steve Nash and Steve played like that, so I had to teach that to Raymond Felton. That's what I did for Mike. I did the practices and I did the player development part.

So I had to figure out some way how to teach a player how to play like Steve Nash, so I had to put some drills in and different ways to teach 'em. Jeremy Lin story, boom, he walks in, we take him, put him through all kinds of things that showed him how we do things and it's a little thing I do in our practices here, that I'm going to keep it secret until I retire, although I've shown it a few places. It just helps kids understand how ball movement, spacing, taking shots when you need to, it just teaches them the ability to do that. What you'll find is, and I won't mention his name, but he's a prominent name, they will look at you and they'll go, my players can't do that. My players, I gotta recruit guys that can shoot.

I always look at 'em and say you know why they can't shoot? Because you don't think they can. I go there. There's a point that you've got to teach, don't get me wrong but a lot of it is the confidence that you instill and what you don't -- you asked me about Jon. Me not holding Jon back, not saying I was perfect, but a lot of coaches pigeon hole players. When you've shot 50,000 jump hooks in the lane on the right hand and done nothing else for a player because he's a low-post player, you made him pretty one-dimensional, not hard to guard. Becomes easier. I'm kinda that way.

Q. Curious how you think the accomplishments of this team stack up against maybe your NIT semi-final team or Mike's NCAA team and others through the years?
DAN D'ANTONI: If you look at quality my NIT team was 16-16. So that would be 32. We would just now be playing 32 best teams and we won two games. Mike's team never did that. He had the house ranked team and he had the best players because they had five high School All-Americans on that team and I always say we have five playground All-Americans in Mullins and they had 5 all over the country. We won two games, beat Villanova first round, beat Stu Lantz in Nebraska, beat them 30 points. Got beat by Marquette, Al McGuire's club by 3 or 4 points. We were a good ball club.

You would have to combine the NIT and NCAA in my era to see what accomplishments you have in this era because there are 68 teams now. There was only 32 teams in those two tournaments at that time. I don't know. It's hard to look back. Jon Elmore is a lot better player than I every was. But I was playing against, we didn't have trainers and food places and film. We stopped film and it burned. It was hard to learn from film, so they have a lot of advantages. So it's hard to go back and forth.

Q. Playing catch-up here, can you walk us through the process that led to your hiring at Marshall?
DAN D'ANTONI: My hiring? Truthful? I can't lie. It's hard. I get in trouble because I can't, either. They wanted Mike which is always, I've always been second pick. Sometimes on playgrounds, my first year nobody knew me, I never got to play because they look at you, white men can't jump or something. I was that guy.

Mike came in, 6-3, long arms. He always got picked. He had my success to live a little on where I played and then they recognized he's pretty good. What was the question again?

Q. How you were hired?
DAN D'ANTONI: Yeah, how I was hired? They wanted Mike. Didn't pick him. I was out there, but from what I hear they were going to hire somebody else then my other brother, Mark, lawyer, calls and lays out a game plan from how we will react and next thing I know I was hired.

But I'm one of those guys. I haven't written a resume before. I had the job at Marshall and that was the first resume I ever wrote. I was playing golf when they hired me at Socastee. I just kind of bounced around. I'm a day-to-day guy. I can enjoy everything. If I wasn't coaching I would be talking to Mitch over there and we would be doing something. I enjoy it. I'm blessed to have the job I got. Blessed I get to talk to Chuck every day after games. I look forward to it, you know? Some people don't. I do.

Q. Coach, given that West Virginia's goal with their pressure is to speed up the game and speed up players does that play into your wheelhouse given the pace?
DAN D'ANTONI: Scares the hell out of me. Other than that, what else is there? We're not going to war. No, we're going to do what we do. We're going to come down that ball is going to fly around and that day is over we'll shake hands and we win we will shake our hands and yell and if we don't I will walk out and try to get better next year.

The best example, I'll quit on this, but we did the Beach Ball Classic for years and my team would be warming up and I look down and the other team has Kobe, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, you look down that way, you wouldn't even go play! I quit lookin'. We concentrated on who we were.

You know what I found out was? We took Vince Carter into overtime. We beat the 8th ranked team in the country. We started doing what we do and not worrying about what they do. I'm not going to worry about West Virginia. They got a great ball club, and they should be proud of who they are. We got a great ball club. I don't know who is going to win. We'll find out, and regardless I'm going to be proud of our team and I'm sure Coach Huggins is going to be proud of his team.

THE MODERATOR: Good luck, Coach. Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297