Summer workouts conclude
HUNTINGTON -- Dan D'Antoni's way is pretty simple.
"Don't worry about mistakes and play as hard as you can," the Marshall Thundering Herd men's basketball head coach said to his team near the end of summer workouts.
The former Marshall point guard and NBA assistant coach who came on board April 24 to replace Tom Herrion, turned the team loose after six weeks of practice that ended Monday with a two-hour session on the Cam Henderson Center court. They'll get together again after Labor Day in the second week of the fall semester, but some players will be around during the break.
D'Antoni is striving for excellence because he said once you taste it you won't go back. Marshall's players haven't really tasted it yet, he said.
"When they do, they won't go back." he said.
Coaches gave players workout plans to follow while they're away from campus. Strength and conditioning coach Joe Varga also gave them things to do.
Conditioning will be tested when the squad returns with a timed mile run.
One point of emphasis during summer workouts was on revving up the tempo. D'Antoni stresses making quick decisions, moving the basketball quick, everyone taking open shots and applying pressure defensively.
"We have to think quicker and react to things quicker," D'Antoni said. "We'll get there. When they do it right, we're OK."
Freshman recruit Aleksa Nikolic might provide more quickness at the point guard positiion when he arrives from Serbia.
DeVince Boykins and Tamron Manning, both juniors, were learning this summer how D'Antoni wants point guards to play. Justin Edmonds, a junior who received medical clearance to practice for the final week of workouts, joined them. Edmonds was out of action for a year because of a knee injury.
"If you're not going to be quick, your thinking has to be quick," D'Antoni said.
.Another priority is getting the team in better shape to play at a faster pace than they're accustomed to.
Varga's conditioning program involves lifting weights, but also includes an emphasis on better eating habits that has resulted in significant weight loss for some players.
Senior center J.P. Kambola has lost about 20 pounds, D'Antoni said. Sophomore forward Ryan Taylor is 15 pounds lighter and they've all dropped weight, the coach said.
"It's a totally different routine than they're used to," D'Antoni said. "The intensity in the weight room is totally different.
"It's not like they can go in there and loaf and go unnoticed. It will be addressed."