Dan D'Antoni: Defensive Coordinator?

In an article on the Knicks' improved defense, Marc Berman suggests that Mike D'Antoni's older brother, assistant coach Dan D'Antoni, has taken charge of that grittier end of the floor. Dan-D'An (I can neither confirm nor deny that people call him that. I just hope it. A lot.) has always been part of the staff, but only this season, says Berman, has he been deemed a defensive coordinator of sorts.

"Mike is committed to defense and molds them. I might be more aggressive in that area," Dan D'Antoni said. "It's my personality. That's what I was in high school [in South Carolina], very aggressive and at you. That's who I am."

As Berman mentions, the younger D'Antoni famously balked at the hiring of a defensive specialist in Phoenix, so "appointing" that "position" from within (the organization and the family) seems like a decent compromise. The notion that Mike "doesn't teach defense" "because he has a mustache" has always been patently ridiculous, but his teams, especially in New York, have certainly never been particularly competent in that area. So far this season, New York is still in the lower echelon in defensive efficiency, but there's no question that they're improved and improving. At the very least, they block a buttload of shots. Games like Saturday's, in which they pretty much shut down Chicago in the fourth quarter, were few and far between in previous years.

Why is one brother more defense-oriented when they share 50% of their DNA and had roughly the same upbringing? That's easy: more D's. Dan D'Antoni was clearly preordained to be the defensive mastermind*. If all else fails, I suggest they hire this guy.

*Although one could make the argument that people are given certain initials specifically so that we can subtract them to lampoon their deficiencies. See Mike "Antoni", "Irk" Nowitzki, "Ason" Kidd, and "Eth" Rosenthal (because I have no soul).

(One more thing: I'm helping out at The Sports Section again this week. If you see my byline in those parts, don't be alarmed, and don't tell anybody there about that time I tried to grope you.)

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