Photo gallery from Marshall's 84-79 loss to Old Dominion
Dan D'Antoni, a Marshall Athletics Hall of Famer, was named the Thundering Herd men's basketball coach on April 25, 2014. A former star MU point guard, D'Antoni helped Marshall to appearances in the 1967 and 1968 National Invitation Tournaments.
D’Antoni’s fourth season saw Marshall end a 31-year NCAA Tournament drought, win the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament game, win Conference USA for the first time ever, beat multiple ranked teams for the first time in Thundering Herd history, have three players earn all-conference honors and win 25 games.
This year’s Thundering Herd vanquished its postseason demons, captured its first Conference USA championship and received a Big Dance berth for the first time in 31 years. What followed elevated a season from unusual to unrivaled, as the Herd became the 28th No. 13 seed in the 34 years since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams (now 68) to defeat a No. 4 seed (Wichita State). That was Marshall’s first tournament win.
The Herd had never defeated multiple Top 25 teams in the same season, as it did in 2017-18, and records fell by the wayside. D’Antoni’s fourth year saw the most points (3,017), most 3s (362) and most assists (615) by a Herd team in program history.
D’Antoni became the first coach in Marshall hoops history to improve his team’s win total each of the first four seasons at the helm: 11 to 17 to 20 to 25. Only four coaches in Marshall hoops history have had back-to-back 20-win seasons and D’Antoni became the coach to reach that since Rick Huckabay did so in the 80s.
Other on the court honors included Jon Elmore, C.J. Burks and Ajdin Penava combining for six C-USA Player of the Week awards, three all-conference honors, one C-USA Tournament MVP, two all-tournament selections and one Defensive Player of the Year award. It was the second time three Marshall men’s basketball players have been named to all-conference team in the same year since Keith Veney, John Brannen and Sidney Coles accomplished that in 1997.
Off the court, Elmore was named to the All-Academic team to become the second player ever in program history to be selected for the team three different times. The team as a whole also thrived in the classroom, as it had a cumulative 3.22 GPA.
In D’Atoni’s third season, Marshall reached 20 wins and the Conference USA Conference Tournament final since 2012. Thanks to the team's "hillbilly style" of basketball, the Herd broke several records, including points (2,997) and 3-point field goals made (356), while having the No. 7 scoring offense in the nation.
Other on the court highlights included having three separate (Jon Elmore, Stevie Browning and Ryan Taylor) earn C-USA Player of the Week honors, which was the first time a Marshall team had three players recognized in the same season for player of the week honors since the 1986-87 season, Taylor becoming the first player in program and league history to be named the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week on Jan. 11 and Elmore and Taylor becoming the first Marshall duo to be named on C-USA teams since DeAndre Kane and Damier Pitts in 2012.
Marshall also had academic success during the 2016-17 season. Austin Loop became the first person in program history to be named to the All-Academic team three times, while Elmore became the second player in school history to earn the honor multiple times.
D’Antoni’s second season at the helm of the Thundering Herd turned man heads across Conference USA and the country with the nation’s No. 3 scoring offense. Marshall finished 17-16 and improved in nearly every statistical category to the year prior.
During the 2015-16 season, D’Antoni led the Herd to its first 12-win season in C –USA play, the best conference season Marshall has had since joining the league in 2005. His high-octane offense broke or tied 14 C-USA, school and Henderson Center records. The Herd earned a program-best No. 3 seed in the league tournament and reached the C-USA semifinals for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
The fan support was tremendous throughout the year. Home attendance averaged 5,574 fans per game, while conference games averaged an attendance of 6,022.
Off the court, the Herd hit many academic milestones as well. Seven players were named to the league’s Commissioner’s Honor Roll, while Jacob Kilgore earned the Commissioner’s Academic Medal for achieving a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or better.
"Coaching Marshall basketball has always been a dream of mine," D'Antoni said as he was introduced as the Herd coach, "even when I was little."
D'Antoni, a native of Mullens, W.Va., is Marshall's 28th men's basketball coach. He signed a four-year contract.
"It's a dream-come-true for me to bring a Dan D'Antoni back to Marshall University," Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick said of D'Antoni's hire. "It's where he belongs. It's taken a while, but he's here."
D'Antoni, 68, is the older brother of former NBA coach Mike D'Antoni. Dan served as one of Mike's assistant coaches for nine NBA seasons. He was a member of the Phoenix Suns' staff from 2005-06 through 2007-08. He spent four seasons on the New York Knicks' staff, then served as an assistant on the Los Angeles Lakers' staff for two seasons.
During his career, D'Antoni also served as the head coach of the Knicks' and Lakers' NBA Summer League teams.
After D'Antoni graduated from Marshall in 1970, he joined the Herd staff as the head coach of the freshman basketball team, where he coached his younger brother, Mike, before becoming an assistant coach of the Herd varsity.
D'Antoni was named head basketball coach at Socastee High School in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in 1975. In 30 years at Socastee (1975-2005), D'Antoni accumulated over 500 wins and multiple coach of the year honors, while founding the Beach Ball Classic, one of the most prestigious high school basketball tournaments in the country. That event has featured more than 75 players who have gone on to play in the NBA.
D'Antoni was the head coach of the Beach Ball Select AAU basketball team, which featured future NBA players Raymond Felton and Ramon Sessions.
In March 2016, D’Antoni was elected to the South Carolina High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
D'Antoni was an All-State first team selection at Mullens High School. At Marshall, he was the starting point guard on Ellis Johnson's "Iron Man 5" that played in the 1967 and '68 NIT. The 1966-67 team reached the NIT semifinals, and D'Antoni led the tournament in assists as the Herd finished fourth. As a senior, he was an All-Mid-American Conference first team selection in 1968-69, when he led the Herd in scoring, at 17.5 points per game. D'Antoni was All-MAC second team his junior season.
D'Antoni is one of Marshall's 50 players to score 1,000 career points, with 1,109, and ranks 13th on the Herd's career free throw percentage list, at .774 (301-of-389).
D'Antoni -- whose given name is Lewis Joseph D'Antoni II -- was inducted into the Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990.
D'Antoni graduated from Marshall in 1970 with a degree in Speech and Physical Education, and also earned a Master's degree in Principles of Guidance from Marshall in 1972.
He is the father of three sons, all of whom played collegiate basketball: Matt played at Brown; Andrew attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and later served 3½ years in Iraq, rising to the rank of captain in the U.S. Army; and Nick attended William & Mary, where he was captain of the basketball team. D'Antoni and his wife, Vanessa, also are parents of a daughter, Morgan.