HUNTINGTON — Dripping sweat, Goran Miladinovic stood on the court, bent over with his hands on his knees following an intense workout Thursday at the Cam Henderson Center.
Even slumped over, the 7-foot newcomer for Marshall's men's basketball team was taller than head coach Dan D'Antoni, who continued to pepper him with instructions as he gathered himself.
For Miladinovic, a native of Montenegro, and fellow European newcomer Marko Sarenac, who is originally from Serbia, those sessions with D'Antoni may only last a little while each week, but they are invaluable as they start their ascent to Division I basketball.
Especially in D'Antoni's fast-paced system, those sessions are key to get Miladinovic and Sarenac up to game speed for when practice opens in September.
"Of course, it's hard right now because we're out of shape, but I think we'll be fine with it," Miladinovic said. "It's really important because it's hard to do things right when you're tired, but we like playing that way."
During the on-court session, D'Antoni pushed them constantly, critiquing each minute detail and breaking down why every little aspect is so important: a hard step here, a rip-through with the basketball there - every little piece of a bigger puzzle to take the talent of the two European players to the next level.
And D'Antoni said there is plenty of talent present for both to make them important pieces of the Herd's puzzle as they prepare for the 2019-20 season, comparing Miladinovic's game as he enters Marshall to where former Herd standout and European player Ajdin Penava is following his Herd career.
In workouts, Miladinovic started to get a little frustrated when shots didn't fall - to which D'Antoni yelled, "Rome wasn't built in a day," and explained that form and technique in the sessions is more important than knocking shots down.
Sarenac went through the same struggles as conditioning became a factor in the latter part of the session, but each proceeded to finish strong.
One thing evident was their ability to shoot from long range.
In one drill, the two had to catch a rebound off the glass at its highest point before hitting a midcourt outlet. Then, they came off a screen to knock down a 3-pointer near the top of the key.
Each seemed comfortable in the drill, sending a slight buzz through the group of 20 to 25 patrons who came to the Cam Henderson Center to watch the workout.
"Both of them can shoot," D'Antoni said. "Marko is the elite shooter - gets it off fast. The way he shoots, it works. You don't have to adjust anything. We're trying to get Goran, who's a little slower and more mechanical, to try to speed it up and let it go. A lot of times what holds them back is the fear of failure or missing the shot.
"Shots that are missed now (in practice), nobody counts, so now you're just trying to make sure they have the right rhythm, so that when they are in the game, they have the rhythm to shoot that shot."
Miladinovic and Sarenac said that they are happy to have the other one by their side in the transition from the Hoosac School in New York where they were teammates.
At Hoosac, Miladinovic averaged 13.5 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game while Sarenac also filled the statistical columns, averaging 19.9 points, 11.2 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game.
While they were successful together, it was once expected that the two teammates may go their separate ways with Sarenac committed to Marshall and Miladinovic committed to Elon.
However, Miladinovic came to Marshall's end-of-year banquet and decided to sign with Sarenac, continuing a bond that Sarenac said is beneficial to both as they enter college basketball.
"It makes it really easier because we are good friends and we know how to play with each other," Sarenac said.
"It's good when you have someone like that," Miladinovic added. "We can always talk with each other and we're going through the same transition, so that's helping us."
"We are really excited for the season and we are looking forward to enjoying this environment," Sarenac said.