The last time Dan D'Antoni worked at the college level, John Wooden was still the head coach at UCLA, freshmen were ineligible to play for varsity teams and the NCAA tournament field only featured 25 teams.
D'Antoni will make his return to college basketball next season.
Marshall hired the older brother of Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni as its next head coach on Thursday afternoon, ending a six-week search to replace Tom Herrion. Dan D'Antoni, 66, last coached in college as a Marshall assistant during the 1970-71 season after serving as the Thundering Herd's starting point guard the previous three seasons.
D'Antoni leaves his post as an assistant coach under his brother with the Lakers to return to his alma mater. He spent 30 years as the head coach of Socastee High School in Myrtle Beach, S.C., winning more than 500 games there before leaving in 2005 to work as an assistant coach under his brother in the NBA first in Phoenix and New York and most recently with the Lakers.
Marshall reportedly initially pursued Mike D'Antoni in hopes that his tenuous future with the Lakers might be enough to make him consider returning to the security of his alma mater. When D'Antoni eventually rebuffed the Thundering Herd, they apparently turned their attention to his brother.
The hiring of Dan D'Antoni is a risky one because he hasn't worked at the college level in more than 40 years and he hasn't been a head coach at any level above high school. D'Antoni's staff may have to do the bulk of the recruiting initially since he'll probably need to establish or at least reestablish ties to the high school and club scene in West Virginia and neighboring states.
Marshall surely hopes D'Antoni can make a similar impact to what Larry Brown has done at SMU, but their age and time away from college basketball is the only things to the two have in common. Whereas Brown was able to hire a top-notch staff and lure elite prospects because of his reputation as a championship-level coach in college and the NBA, D'Antoni is best known merely as Mike's older brother.
It won't help D'Antoni that he inherits a challenging situation.
Marshall lost 41 games over the past two seasons under Herrion, the worst in program history. The Thundering Herd will also be without their best player from last season because point guard Kareem Canty intends to transfer.
Only five times in its history has Marshall been to the NCAA tournament, none since 1987.
The Thundering Herd can only hope a man who hasn't coached at the college level in more than four decades can be the one to turn around the fortunes of the program.
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