Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MARSHALL BASKETBALL ; Guard or Forward, Point Well Taken; Nikolic Gives Marshall Versatility Heading into Opener

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MARSHALL BASKETBALL ; Guard or Forward, Point Well Taken; Nikolic Gives Marshall Versatility Heading into Opener

Article excerpt

HUNTINGTON - With his years as an NBA assistant coach, Dan D'Antoni can make some comparisons between his Marshall players and some well-known pro players. Not in talent level, but in style. D'Antoni sees one such comparison in Aleksa Nikolic, the 6-foot-6 1/ 2 Serbian who came to the Thundering Herd as a point guard.

"You know, he reminds me a little bit of how Boris Diaw started, D'Antoni said. "Boris was at point guard when he came from Atlanta [to the Phoenix Suns], we moved him to a point forward. I think that's going to be Aleks' natural position.

Coming off a medical redshirt season, Nikolic is vying to be one of the first men off the bench behind a lineup that likely will consist of Ryan Taylor, Terrence Thompson, Jon Elmore, Stevie Browning and Austin Loop. His role will be critical in the first third of the season, before C.J. Burks regains eligibility.

That begins Saturday, as Marshall begins the campaign at Cam Henderson Center against North Carolina Central. Tipoff is at noon.

Nikolic had his season cut short last year with a gruesome injury at Morehead State that required facial surgery. As his four fractures healed, the time off became more of a blessing - he was able to build up his frame to its current 218 pounds.

He came to Marshall as a 185-pound 19-year-old and ran the point. He started the last 25 games, averaging 5.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists a game. His assist-to-turnover ratio was only 1.17 - not good for a point guard - and he wasn't strong with the ball.

D'Antoni said that isn't out of the ordinary with European players who go straight into major-college basketball or the NBA. He brought up the example of Dirk Nowitzki, who went straight from Germany to the NBA and struggled early on.

The speed and physical nature of American basketball is different from the European game, and the transition can be awkward.

"It's a project I was willing to chance, D'Antoni said of Nikolic's recruitment. "I really had no alternative, to be honest with you. I just got here, I hadn't recruited. Scott [Rigot, MU assistant] had been over there, he had recruited. Mark [Cline] had been there, he had recruited. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.