HUNTINGTON — Marshall basketball head coach Dan D’Antoni is more than comfortable with players playing their own game, as long as it fits in the framework of what the team is trying to accomplish.
D’Antoni can live with mistakes — turnovers and missed shots — as long as energy is good and the team chemistry is good.
With D’Antoni’s emphasis on the quickly moving “athletic ball” concept, there isn’t much room for individualism to intrude with success.
That aspect forced D’Antoni to limit the minutes of forward Mikel Beyers earlier in the season as Beyers’ mindset had drifted from the team concepts.
“He sometimes plays his game in his own head and it has nothing to do with the way we were going to come out and play,” D’Antoni said. “What I’m trying to convince him is that I’m not going to play him if he does that.”
Beyers is averaging 5.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, his lowest totals since his first year with the Thundering Herd.
Those are numbers D’Antoni feels should be at least doubled in terms of production, given Beyers’ attributes.
“I’ve always told him, ‘Mike, you’re too talented not to be on the floor starting. You’re just too talented. However, you’re decision-making and your willingness to play within our system is a problem,’” D’Antoni said.
With Marshall looking for an offensive spark, however, Beyers — who has range out to 30 feet and an array of offensive moves that can help the Herd score — is likely going to get another shot at impactful minutes.
D’Antoni said what Beyers chooses to do with those minutes and the subsequent reaction are on him.
“He’s a difference-maker in a lot of things,” D’Antoni said. “If he’ll toe the mark, then we’ve got enough to be a real force by the end of the year.”
For Marshall, it could be the difference between continued offensive futility and getting the on-court chemistry to flip a switch to turn D’Antoni’s scheme into a high-scoring machine again.
With Marshall down big against Louisiana Tech, D’Antoni called on Beyers for a spark, and he provided some flashes with four points, four rebounds and two steals in 12 minutes.
It was enough for D’Antoni to signal that his minutes may increase — as long as he plays the Marshall way.
“The biggest thing is that he has to play the way we play and not the way he plays,” D’Antoni said.
D’Antoni said his talk with Beyers following the Louisiana Tech loss was to the point, and this week’s practices will show whether that talk sunk in.
“He received it pretty well,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll see what he does, but we need him.”
If it does, it could signal another shift in Marshall’s starting lineup moving forward as the Herd looks to end a four-game losing streak.