The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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April 15, 2014

Pick 3: Cam Huffman's answers

Is Mike D’Antoni the best hire for Marshall basketball if the Herd can land him?

In a word — no.

I see the advantages of bringing D’Antoni back to his alma mater. Going from the most widely known franchise in all of basketball, the Los Angeles Lakers, to Marshall would certainly create some buzz. The Herd basketball program, which has been in the spotlight in recent seasons about as often as Milli Vanilli, needs a boost, and hiring D’Antoni would give it just that.

But how long would that honeymoon last? The 62-year-old Mullens native has never coached at the college level. He’s never traveled to gyms across the country looking for talent or sat in a living room trying to convince a mother that her 17-year-old son should spend the next four or five years of his life with him.

College basketball is largely about recruiting, and that’s something D’Antoni has never experienced.

D’Antoni would, of course, have some instant credibility when he explained to recruits with dreams of becoming professionals that he coached in the NBA for 15 seasons and instructed the likes of Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant.

But those 18-year-olds, who were too young to remember the success D’Antoni had in Phoenix 10 years ago, will only know his name based on what they’ve seen on ESPN. They’ll remember Bryant criticizing the coach, and they’ll likely soon see him run out of town.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe Mike D’Antoni is a good coach, and I can envision him having success with the Herd. But I can also see it going the other way when the luster fades. If that happens, it will be a public relations disaster for Marshall to find a way to fire one of its most famous graduates. The situation could get messy — and expensive.

Hiring D’Antoni — and breaking open the piggy bank to do it — is just too big of a risk. There are plenty of coaches on college basketball’s lower ranks waiting for a chance to take over a program like Marshall and put their mark on it. The Herd would be better off using the approach West Virginia used when it brought in John Beilein.

At least then, there would be a way out.

Two weeks into the season, do you like Major League Baseball’s new replay system?

I’m a baseball traditionalist, and I was convinced that I was going to hate replay in baseball. Why change such a wonderful game?

But two weeks in, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

The replays I’ve seen have gone quickly, and the ones I’ve seen have ultimately resulted in the right call. Sure, replay may stop a good manager tirade short, but other than that I see few negatives.

It’s not like they’re happening every inning. Once every few games is all we’re seeing early in the year.

So I’m fine with it. Get the call right, and get back to the game.

Is the new WVSSAC rule allowing practices throughout the summer best for the student-athletes?

I have mixed feelings about this one.

On one hand, I think athletes need a break. It’s getting to the point where kids aren’t allowed to be kids anymore, and it’s important to remember that most of the athletes won’t earn a living, or even a scholarship, from their efforts on the fields and courts. Sports are supposed to be fun, and constant practice can take that away.

But surrounding states have had similar rules for years, and not allowing coaches to work with their athletes during the summer puts those athletes who do have a chance at scholarships at a major disadvantage. While athletes in West Virginia are playing Xbox, those around them are improving their skills.

The key to making the new rule a successful one is to make sure the practices are truly voluntary. If kids have plans to go to the beach, they need to go. If they’re supposed to visit Grandma in North Carolina, there should be no negative consequences for making that trip.

If that’s the way it works, I’m all for it.

— E-mail: chuffman and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

Pick 3 is a regular feature of The Register-

Herald where two of our sports writers debate three major topics in the world of sports.

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