SAN DIEGO — Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni’s “organized chaos” style of offense isn’t the only curiosity for the national media and representatives who cover other teams.
Coach Dan D’Antoni’s sartorial choice has drawn attention.
As Thundering Herd fans know, D’Antoni wears a suit jacket over top of a long-sleeved T-shirt adorned with the state of West Virginia outline and a cursive “Marshall” or other representations of the MU logo. As D’Antoni wraps up his fourth year, that is as iconic in Huntington as the corner 3-pointer.
A national reporter teed up the question to Herd players during MU’s press conference Thursday morning: “What do you guys think of that suit/T-shirt combo he was rockin’ a few times?”
No, no, no. He does it every game, and will do it again at 1:30 p.m. Friday when the Herd takes on 16th-ranked Wichita State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament at Viejas Arena on the San Diego State University campus.
“We think it looks good, man,” said Jon Elmore, MU’s leading scorer. “You see a lot of people cracking on him, chanting ‘Where’s your tie?’ and stuff like that. But he’s comfortable and thinks it’s a good look, and we’ve all accepted it and think it looks good.”
C.J. Burks chimed in: “It’s very in style. It’s a different style, it’s very well-liked.”
D’Antoni isn’t the winningest coach in the San Diego “pod” — Wichita’s Gregg Marshall fills that bill — but he’s the most interesting. Between his high school/NBA background and his homespun oratory, it was tough to end his conference before MU’s practice. With College of Charleston playing a night game in San Diego, there are media from South Carolina on hand. That naturally brought out questions about D’Antoni’s 30 years coaching at Socastee High, where he launched the ultra-successful Beach Ball Classic.
As he talked about it, one of his more notable personal philosophies came forth. He was asked if he could his rise from being a high school coach to the NCAA tournament, answering: “There are a lot of things I don’t fathom into the future. I’m a day-to-day guy. I don’t look ahead.”
About the Beach Ball, he said he didn’t try to fathom how that tournament grew into a marquee event attracting stars such as Jason Kidd and Kobe Bryant. “I was just thinking about the party after that first game,” he joked.
Some other D’Antoni-isms:
n Explaining the coaching philosophy of him and his brother, Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, he described when college basketball evolved into a coach-oriented game. The D’Antoni brothers have tried to get away from that, bringing a “retro” run-and-gun system.
“It became more of a coached game,” Dan D’Antoni said. “You’re painting A to B to C to D and stay within the lines, you know? I prefer the freelance, he gets up, he has an empty canvas, he doesn’t have directions; you just start putting them on the canvas.”
n Along those lines: “I tell my players, ‘Don’t look over at me; you’re the ones playing.’”
n When discussing Wichita State’s 6-foot-8, 279-pound Shaquille Morris, D’Antoni hinted to the anticipated debut next season of 6-10, 300-plus-pound Iran Bennett without invoking his name.
Apparently, Morris is called “Baby Shaq.” “He would be ‘Runt Shaq’ next to the guy I’m going to put down there!” D’Antoni said.
(By the way, Bennett has a stress fracture in his foot, which is in a boot these days.)
n And finally, D’Antoni was drawn into a discussion of “Danalytics,” a throwback to the postgame conference after a game in Pittsburgh in which he discussed how the corner-3 is more efficient than posting up.
“You want to challenge me on that?” He replied to a question. The reporter quickly said, “No, no.” D’Antoni said, “I would back up and be careful.”