HUNTINGTON — Since his arrival, Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni’s style of basketball has led the Thundering Herd to success in Conference USA.
D’Antoni wants his Herd players to remember that and stay the course as they take the court this season.
It was an aspect that D’Antoni made a point of in an extended film session on Monday afternoon.
“The biggest thing is that we don’t want to get in a trap because there are some good defensive teams,” D’Antoni said. “UAB is one of them, Charlotte is going to be one of them and ODU, so we’ve got three defensive teams that like to play a grind game and we can’t fall into that where we try to grind and beat people.”
After a 61-50 loss to UAB on Saturday, the team went back to work on Monday, watching film intently in an extended session that lasted nearly two hours.
There was a pointed message from D’Antoni, who reiterated his message about keeping the basketball athletic, which means moving it with pace and keeping a defense off-balance.
That is an aspect that he felt was not present against UAB as the Herd struggled to a seven-assist performance with 14 turnovers on the day.
“That’s not our motif and, to be honest with you, it’s boring and I don’t want to sit over there and watch it,” D’Antoni said. “We’ve got to get the ball moving and take shots when they present themselves and not try to manipulate the game. We need to take what they give us. If it’s quick, which we hope it will be, we go ahead and live with that.”
D’Antoni said the lack of ball movement kept the Herd from getting into a rhythm, which was the major factor in its 4-for-26 performance from 3-point range.
Because the ball was not moving as needed, it enabled UAB’s defense to recover with its length, which altered shots. Moving the basketball quickly helps combat that, per D’Antoni.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect, according to D’Antoni was that Marshall worked inside-out on a few occasions, using big man Iran Bennett, who drew double-teams.
Subsequent kick-outs from the double-team came, but Marshall turned down the open looks after missing a few early — something D’Antoni said can’t happen moving forward.
“We’re turning shots down and the ball is not moving because we are catching and holding it,” D’Antoni said. “We’re turning shots down and the quick pass, we don’t have it like we used to. It’s got to change.”
Marshall gets a chance to learn from its road mistakes this week with a pair of contests against Charlotte and Old Dominion — both of which are going to bring a similar style against the Herd.
As the grind of Conference USA action settles in, D’Antoni wants the Herd to find its offensive rhythm again after a strong stretch to end non-conference play.
In D’Antoni’s eyes, if the Herd is able to find that again, they will be in strong position at the end of conference action due to an element that the 2019-20 team has which hasn’t been a strength in the past — a defense that rivals the best in Conference USA.
In D’Antoni’s eyes, that defense makes it all that much more important to stick with its own style of offensive play.
“Our defense gives us a better chance to live with misses,” D’Antoni said. “We’ve just got to play.”
Marshall returns to action at 7 p.m. on Thursday night against Charlotte.