D’Antoni knows how to fix a flat
Danny D’Antoni knows how to fix a flat.
On his car?
But D’Antoni also knows how to fix a flat on his basketball team.
Marshall’s veteran coach proved that during the Thundering Herd’s strong 84-64 winning performance against William & Mary Wednesday night before 6,187 vocal fans in the Cam Henderson Center.
Think it’s a coincidence that the tough-minded Herd that took a very solid William & Mary completely out of its game showed little resemblance to the woefully flat Marshall team that got hammered 104-67 at Maryland last Friday?
“At Maryland,” said D’Antoni.
“I didn’t think we played as a team. We played as individuals.”
So, he showed his players exactly what he was talking about during a film session prior to practice Monday.
“Normally, I’ll show them 10 or 15 minutes of the previous game,” said D’Antoni.
“But on Monday we watched three-fourths of the game, which is very unusual. We pointed out all the problems we had.”
The Herd listened and learned.
“We came out throwing punches tonight,” said MU star point guard Jon Elmore, following a game-high score of 26.
As opposed to being a punching bag at Maryland?
“I think I might have had the worst game of my career the last game,” admitted Elmore.
But he learned from it.
Elmore showed that midway through the first half by taking over the game during a span of 1:17.
First, he nailed a step-back 3-pointer from the top of the key with 12:45 remaining.
Then, 29 seconds later Elmore left a 25-footer on the front of the rim and, then, breathed a visible sigh of relief when it rolled in for a 3-pointer.
Finally, he drove hard to the rim refusing to be denied.
Then, just for good measure, Elmore drilled a step-to-the-left 3-pointer with only four seconds remaining in the half. It was a shot heard ’round a world that suddenly wasn’t flat anymore.
Elmore finished with 17 points in 17 minutes during the first half.
And that meant one thing.
It was on.
“Anytime we bring the energy we brought tonight,” said Elmore, “we will grind teams down.”
That’s precisely what occurred during the second half as William & Mary went from shooting 53.3 percent (16 of 30) during the first half to only 36.4 percent (8 of 22) in the second half.
“We got beat by a better team,” said Tribe coach Tony Shaver during a post-game press conference.
“I don’t know what else to tell you.”
Surprising after the flat Maryland performance?
Not to Rondale Watson.
“I think we learned a lot by the beat down at Maryland,” said the 6-foot-4 senior guard.
“When I came in I just tried to bring energy and do the dirty work.”
Watson accomplished both tasks, finishing with 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds in 29 minutes of action.
He was one of four double-figure scorers for Marshall and one of four players who grabbed five or more rebounds.
That’s what a team victory this was.
“We played good solid, hard basketball,” said D’Antoni.
Is it any wonder he said that with a smile?
D’Antoni didn’t need a jack this game.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com.