Here’s some unsolicited advice for Danny D’Antoni.
Keep a snake-bite kit handy.
That’s the sort of season it has been for Marshall University’s veteran head basketball coach. If it weren’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.
But to D’Antoni’s credit, he doesn’t allow the gloom, despair and misery to overcome his upbeat attitude. Given the circumstances, however, it easily could have happened.
Just consider the scenario.
During a conversation before practice on Tuesday afternoon, D’Antoni revealed he was going to make an intriguing change in Marshall’s starting lineup.
“I’m going to start Iran (Bennett) and Goran (Miladinovic) together,” said D’Antoni.
Talk about getting your attention.
Starting the 6-foot-9, 300-pound Bennett and the 7-0 true freshman Miladinovic together was eye-brow raising, to say the least. D’Antoni went on to say the plan was to play both of the big men down low on opposite blocks.
That’s when D’Antoni could have used that snake-bite kit.
About two and a half hours after revealing the new starting lineup, Miladinovic sprained his left ankle near the end of practice.
“I was just getting ready to call it quits when Goran sprained it,” said D’Antoni, shaking his head.
That’s why Miladinovic wasn’t in uniform for Marshall’s 72-58 win over Southern Miss Thursday night in the Cam Henderson Center.
“Goran won’t be ready to play against Louisiana Tech, either,” said D’Antoni on Thursday night.
He was referring to Marshall’s game against Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. Saturday in “The Cam.”
So, the “Twin Towers” experiment is on hold.
And then some, perhaps.
D’Antoni is also concerned about the other half of the tandem — Bennett. Although the big redshirt sophomore dominated the game with 18 points on 8 of 14 shooting with 12 rebounds (nine offensive) and two blocked shots, Bennett also had to play 33 of the game’s 40 minutes because of Miladinovic’s absence.
That’s a lot of playing time for a 300-pound center, who averages 21.1 minutes.
“When the other team makes him sprint three, four, five times in a row, that’s when he gets in trouble,” said D’Antoni. “They (Southern Miss) didn’t do that. What I worry about now is where he will be Saturday, after playing 33 minutes (against Southern Miss).
“Sometimes you have to worry not so much about this game, but if you are wanting every victory you’ve got to play and go after the wins when you get them. A lot of fatigue is like John Havlicek (former Boston Celtics great) used to say — ‘You’re not tired until your mind says you are.’ So, a lot of it is mental with these kids.”
What wasn’t mental, however, was Bennett tumbling to the floor right in front of press row with 13:49 remaining in the second half Thursday night.
Bennett limped off the floor, favoring his right knee.
After resting his knee, Bennett returned to action with 11:42 left and played the rest of the game. In fact, the redshirt sophomore scored 10 points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked a shot after he returned.
“As soon as I got back in,” said Bennett, “Jarrod (point guard Jarrod West) told me to go out there and dominate.”
So, he did.
Yet, when Bennett walked into the media room for the post-game press conference, he was wearing an ice bag taped to his slightly hyper-extended right knee.
Ah, there’s the concern.
Better keep that snake-bite kit handy, Danny.