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D’Antoni makes a smart move with Kinsey

January 5, 2019

It was a masterstroke.

Marshall University head basketball coach Danny D’Antoni’s decision to give true freshman Taveion Kinsey his first collegiate starting assignment at Old Dominion Thursday night was that significant.

It wasn’t just a game-changing move.

It was a game-winning move.

The uber-athletic Kinsey was the difference in the Thundering Herd’s surprising 70-67 victory over the Monarchs in the Ted Constant Convocation Center at Norfolk, Virginia.

Just look at what the 6-foot-5 leaper did. Kinsey scored 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting, including 2-for-3 from behind the 3-point arc; grabbed a team-high seven rebounds; dealt three assists; blocked three shots (team-high) and made a steal; while playing 35 of the 40 minutes.

That’s quite a debut, particularly considering the circumstances. Besides Old Dominion being touted as the best team in Conference USA, the Monarchs were 7-0 on their home court.

Until Thursday night when a surprise in Marshall’s starting lineup changed the dynamics of the game.

Yes, Kinsey’s energy, defense and high-flying leaping ability were that momentous.

But, first, the Columbus native had to be inserted into the starting lineup for the first time in 14 games. So, what led to that unforeseen move?

What else? The Danny and Mike D’Antoni braintrust.

“Mike has been telling me to play Kinsey more,” said the elder D’Antoni, whose younger brother, Mike, is the acclaimed head coach of the NBA’s Houston Rockets. “Mike really likes him.”

See? Sometimes it’s not just the big brother giving the little brother advice. It can be vice-versa, too.

Perhaps, that’s why both D’Antoni brothers flashed their basketball coaching acumen Thursday night. Besides Marshall’s huge win over Old Dominion, the Rockets also pulled off an enormous 135-134 overtime victory against the Golden State Warriors.

It was a great night for the D’Antoni family. But those two vital victories already are in the rear view mirror. That’s because the D’Antoni brothers have new games to coach.

Marshall, for example, has a chance to finish this important, week-long road trip with a 2-1 record if the Herd can defeat Charlotte at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Halton Arena at Charlotte, North Carolina.

Anybody want to guess who will remain in Marshall’s starting lineup?

A kid named Kinsey.

RIGHT MOVE: An interesting power struggle occurred behind the scenes at West Virginia University this week.

According to knowledgeable sources in Morgantown, WVU president E. Gordon Gee and Mountaineer Athletic Director Shane Lyons each had their favorite candidate to become WVU’s next head football coach. Gee wanted University of Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell, while Lyons wanted Troy head coach Neal Brown.

Fickell was Gee’s choice because of their Ohio State connections. Fickell played for the Buckeyes in 1993-96, was a graduate assistant in 1999 and was an assistant coach/interim head coach/co-defensive coordinator from 2002 until 2016.

That coincided with Gee’s two stints as Ohio State’s president in 1990-98 and 2007-2013 before he rejoined WVU. Since Gee is outspoken about his affection for Ohio State, Fickell was his obvious favorite.

Lyons appeared to play no favorites. He simply want after one of the brightest, up and coming offensive minds in college football in Brown. It literally was a no-brainer.

The good news for WVU fans is Lyons was allowed to do his job and hired Brown on Friday. It was the right hire by the right guy. Congratulations, WVU.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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