I didn’t know Dan D’Antoni’s Sunday comments about WVU — when he said the Mountaineers might not play as hard as Division II Newberry College — were going to strike a nerve. I didn’t know until Monday night, when I arrived at the Charleston Civic Center and everyone from members of the media to fans to coaches asked me about it.
So, with Gazette-Mail beat writer Doug Smock on vacation this week — it’s an off week for the football team — I drove to Huntington on Tuesday and asked D’Antoni about the comments.
His initial reply was amusing:
You ruffled feathers. They wouldn’t have heard if y’all wouldn’t have said anything. I don’t know why you all pin that on me, that’s you guys. I just said something and then y’all told ’em.
I love the game for multiple reasons: I’m a Charleston native, so I’ve been going to WVU-Marshall games since I was a young boy; it’s obviously geographically pleasing to the Gazette-Mail because we don’t have to commute to Huntington or Morgantown for this one; it’s generally fun, aside from the terrible Civic Center internet connection.
I also like trash talk. I didn’t understand D’Antoni’s post-game comments last year, but it made for good reading. I understood Huggins’ fiery response on his radio show a few days later, but hoped his threats to end the series were empty. I was baffled as to why D’Antoni would mention WVU in the wake of an exhibition loss to a Division II program on Sunday.
But I appreciate D’Antoni’s honesty on Tuesday. Above all, I appreciate his stance that the “friendly ribbing” won’t end anytime soon. My days are fun in this job, but a little smack talk certainly adds to it.