Following Marshall’s 69-66 loss to the Mountaineers last season, first year head coach Dan D’Antoni was confident his team could compete with West Virginia in the years to come. D’Antoni went as far as to say “we’re back” following the close loss and felt it would benefit all to play more than once per season, something WVU coach Bob Huggins adamantly rebutted. Marshall finished last season 11-21.
To prepare for the season, Marshall scheduled Newbury, a division II school, in an exhibition this past Sunday. The Herd lost to the Nighthawks 101-89. However, D’Antoni’s comments after the game sounded less about using that game for developing confidence and getting into a rhythm to start the season, but more about facing an up-tempo team and preparing, specifically for West Virginia.
“This game was scheduled on purpose because we knew how they played,” D’Antoni said of Newbury who plays in the NECC. D’Antoni said he had debated slowing the tempo of the game down in the second half but ultimately decided against it. Not all players from the Herd–who started two walk-ons in the game–saw action Sunday night. Newbury played all 15 on their roster.
D’Antoni further explained why he decided to keep the tempo high, “We’re going to play West Virginia and teams that do this, it’s kind of the way we want to play.”
Marshall turned the ball over 14 times and was outrebounded 27-18 in the game, something they will have to significantly improve upon against the Mountaineers.
D’Antoni made it obvious he is looking to instill an up-tempo offense at Marshall and further explained why he decided against slowing the tempo and going to a zone in the second half, “they’ve got to understand how hard it is to play this way.”
Marshall will get their chance to see if their experience will pay off on December 17th in Charleston when they face the Mountaineers. West Virginia continues to have one of the most suffocating defenses in all of college basketball. However, it seems D’Antoni’s confidence is high.
When comparing Newbury to West Virginia he said, “I’m not sure West Virginia plays this hard, this team comes at you.”
The Mountaineers forced 24 turnovers last season against Marshall and outrebounded the Herd 31-24.