Mike D’Antoni could be on the move pretty soon, leaving a struggling Los Angeles Lakers squad that has suffered immensely under his lead and become the laughing stock of the NBA, along with the Philadelphia 76ers, of course.
Even Kobe Bryant seems embarrassed to be associated with the squad, going so far as to say: “I don’t talk to players on teams that are 20 games under .500.” The purple and gold are currently 24-47 and fifth in the Pacific Division.
According to a source, there is mutual interest between Mike D’Antoni and his alma mater, Marshall University, over the vacant head coaching position for the Thundering Herd. The University has reached out to the former New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns head coach to potentially bring the 62-year-old back to his native West Virginia.
“I would think his days are numbered based on Kobe saying he had no interest in playing for him next year,” a source told CBSSports.com. “If he isn’t with the Lakers, I believe he will be at Marshall because there is mutual interest.”
D’Antoni, who signed a three-year $12 million contract with the Lakers on November 12, 2012, might be lured away from Los Angeles as numerous donors to the Marshall squad are more than willing to cough up money in attempt to bring D’Antoni to the school to turn the program around.
The Marshall Thundering Herd went 11-22 overall and 4-12 in conference play over the 2013-14 season, losing in the first round of Conference USA tournament play to Old Dominion on March 12th.
D’Antoni played for Marshall from 1970-1973 and has not completely thrown out the idea of returning to the green and white.
“I hear from them all the time,” D’Antoni said of his alma mater. “I’m the head of their capital [fundraising] campaign. I’m close friends to them. Whatever they need, I try to do. But … who knows.”
Both the Wildcats of Arizona and Weber State clawed their way to the final buzzer, but Arizona was able to outlast a scrappy Weber State team 68-59 Friday in San Diego.
Despite a sluggish start for Arizona and a late-game run by Weber State, the Wildcats of Arizona held on behind a stellar performance from junior guard Nick Johnson who went for 18 points on the afternoon.
“[Weber State has] tremendous scorers,” Johnson told CBS following his team’s win. “We knew it was going to be a tough game…. We just had to punch back when they gave us punches. They are a good team and gave us a hard fight, but we pulled it out.”
Star freshman Aaron Gordon also chipped in 16 points to go along with four blocks and sophomore Kaleb Tarczewski added 10 points and five blocks for Arizona.
Weber State was led by Davion Berry who went 5-for-18 from the field and shot a perfect 10-for-10 from the charity stripe, amassing 24 points against the No. 1-seeded Wildcats. Arizona head coach Sean Miller praised Weber State and Berry in particular.
“Weber State is one of the best teams we’ve played all year,” Miller told CBS. “[Berry] is a tremendous guard. We couldn’t keep them off the glass. I’m glad we were able to advance and play on Sunday. You really have to enjoy the tournament. All of us do this for March…. We have to be a team that plays to win and enjoys being out here.”
Arizona avoided becoming the latest victim of upset on Friday after Duke was upended by Mercer and the Stanford Cardinal took down the Lobos of New Mexico. Aaron Gordon and his Arizona Wildcats found themselves with an eight-point deficit within the first six minutes of play, but his team was able to outrun the quick-trigger three-point shooting of Weber State to go into the half with a 32-20 lead.
Weber State proved they were not intimidated by a much larger Arizona team as the Wildcats in purple were able to outscore Arizona 39-36 in the second half behind Berry and sophomore forward Joel Bolomboy’s game-high 16 rebounds.
Arizona came into this game at 30-4 and Weber State was 19-11. Coach Miller’s squad will take on the winner of this afternoon’s Gonzaga-Oklahoma State game on Sunday.