D’Antoni’s offense enters year two



Head coach Dan D’Antoni is looking for better offensive production in his second year at the helm of  an offensive system he brought with him to Marshall University.

In year one, with a system D’Antoni describes, as “organized chaos,” Marshall finished 11-21 overall and 7-11 in Conference USA play, while finishing seventh in C-USA by averaging 66.8 points per game.

With an influx of new players and returning players with more experience, the Herd expects its number of wins to increase.

D’Antoni said his style of play is chaotic because his players have freedom of movement and freedom of range.

“But it’s organized because they have principles that guide them through it,” D’Antoni said.  “It designs things to try to get you a layup, free throw or 3-point shot.”

The Herd finished second in C-USA in 3-point field goals made last season with 249 on the season and averaged 7.8 made 3-point field goals per game.

Junior guard Austin Loop was second in C-USA with 84 made 3-point field goals on the season.

D’Antoni said this year’s team has more speed and is better equipped to run his system.

“Any time you have chaos, it usually has speed involved in it,” D’Antoni said.  “This year’s team has more people with speed that can run.”

“We had a lot of people that practiced with us last year that’s playing this year and I feel like they’ve adjusted well, and the new players are catching on well,” junior forward Ryan Taylor said.

Taylor led the Herd in points per game and rebounds per game last season with 14.1 and 8.6, respectively.  His 14.1 points per game were good for 13th in C-USA, and his 8.6 rebounds per game were good for second in C-USA.

Taylor said the offensive system in place brings out the best in him as a player.

“A lot of schools, with me being my height, wouldn’t let me do what I do or play how I play here,” Taylor said.  “But with coach D’Antoni and his offensive system, I feel like it shows every aspect of my game and what I can do.”

D’Antoni said Taylor has changed his entire style of play from being what was basically catch-and-finish to handling the ball and creating shots for other players, as well as shooting three’s and playing the whole floor.

“[His] turnovers went from seven or eight a game to two or three and that was just improvement of learning the system and how he fits in,” D’Antoni said.

Taylor said he believes the system can lead to the goals Marshall hopes to accomplish.

“Our goal is to always win the last game, which is the NCAA title,” D’Antoni said.  “We can get to be the best in the country and if we win the last game, we’re the best in the country.”

The Herd’s regular season tips off at 7 p.m. Thursday against the University of Tennessee.

Trace Johnson can be contacted at [email protected]